Wiretap: A Walk through the Whitney, or What We Really Say When We Talk about Art

Article excerpt

--This looks different than when I was here before for some reason.

--That wasn't lit up. What is that.

--Don't scream, Mother, I can't stand it. It's lurking here, lying in wait, ready to spring at any moment. Quiet, Mother. Now you understand the state I'm in.

--These guards are so obnoxious. There must be six or seven guards in this place.

--To become a child again a helpless child, to have to be fed, to have to-

--This is the most famous work, the pants shitter. It's not caught up in this nonsense about taste that the rest of the show is; it's about shitting your pants. I think It's funny for someone whose work is about a blue-collar heritag of taste and value and esthetics to make these works and have people respond to them like they're his critique of Color Field painting or something.

--old and gray haired like that, and you might die and I should be left alone or the doctor said I might live for years you see, he called it "softening of the brain" or something of the sort--

--I don't know if that's really his point of view, but someone said this was about Color Field painting.

--I don't always know where he's coming from. The stuffed-animal thing--there's really too many of them.

--It's like a carnival.

--oh, Shylock--

--I myself had a dream about stuffed animals giving birth. Maybe the best way t see work like this is on the Sonic Youth CD folder Kelley did, or that kind of context, because then it's about an image Instead of an object.

--I think it's good for young people to feel that failure is available to them.

--What's the stuffed-animal stuff supposed to he about on an object level? Mixe ideals, or--as if somebody was a janitor and found a bunch of trash, estimating the value of it--an old trick; that myth of people thinking time will tell the truth about art. The only reason it wouldn't he a myth is because people really believe it.

I can't decide with these self-portraits If he thinks he's attractive or ugly. What do you think.

--You mean do I think he is or isn't, or what do I think he thinks he is? I think anyone that features himself as much as he does has got to be a raving narcissist.

--This one color photograph has--I mean sometimes I think portraiture works.

--He looks good in that picture too, don't you think? He doesn't usually look too great. This is Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose "manipulating masturbatory idealized objects." See, Bob's art makes sense to me. In a lot of ways what I relate to in this work I relate to through what I feel for Bob's work. Because it's a milieu of sensibility I'm sort of half alienated from and half sympathetic to. This is the other thing I don't get, he's got all these projects--"This is from the project Half a Man...."

--Having projects makes him sound like he's an institution. These two photographs are interesting--the stuffed animals make sense now they're having sex.

--What does "spelunking" mean?

--"Sometimes you have to go on all fours."

--Here's a lot of little stuffed puppies.

--You were supposed to get those when you were sick, it was like signing your cast? They were I think a brief phenomenon in the lower middle class. I guess w must have been lower than that, because I never got one, but they look like something I should've had. Back then, of course, they wouldn't have been humpin and kissing in a line. Do you like them?

--They're better than a Koons at least. I now think you can only understand wha Koons is as an artist in terms of his custody battles....

--It's all pathos and failure, like Candyass and those distressed--object people, little crashed cigarette packs and dust in the corner--Karen Kilimnik, Cady Noland.

--My friend Laura looked at this and said even David Salle was more interesting But they're both Cal Arts in a way; the dark side of Disneyland. …