Magazine article Artforum International

Steven Shearer

Magazine article Artforum International

Steven Shearer

Article excerpt

BLUM & POE

In seventh grade, when whip-sexy Butch Lauer informed me that Kiss had really wanted to call themselves "Albatross Shit," I thought I had finally made it. Despite never having been a big Kiss fan, I've never not remembered the band's secret name and the guy who clued me in; and when my eye fell on an adorable snapshot of Steven Shearer beaming in full regalia (black-and-white makeup, Klingon-like costume) amid the long wall of photos and photocopies that make up Scrap #2, 2003, I felt punch-drunk love. (Has anyone come to terms with what's cauterized--a psychic as well as libidinal branding/ staunching--during adolescence through response to culture [all kinds]?) Another photo from Scrap #2: three stacked Black Sabbath 8-tracks (red 8-track on top of black on top of white), titled Masters of Reality, Sabotage, and We Sold Our Souls for Rock "N" Roll. When Shearer's portrait and Sabbath 8-tracks are pinned near hair-rocker Randy Rhoads, an ad inquiring, DOES DAVID BOWIE GIVE YOU

NIGHTMARES????? and another warning x ROCK EXPLOSION / THE PUFFROCK SHITEATERS; when the penultimate item is the cover of a book entitled The Sexualized Mormon Children and the last a scrawled note--SORRY STEVE, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT CELEBRATING CULTURAL DIVERSITY WE DON'T MEAN YOURS where does this leave us? Is Shearer a headbanging Prufrock, walking the littoral between death metal and puffrock, trying to make sense of that cradle of filth (as well as the golden shag pleasures) called culture?

When positioning Shearer's work, critics have invoked everyone from Marcel Broodthaers and Gerhard Richter to Hans-Peter Feldmann and Richard Prince. But this veneer of recent art history--and, by implication, "criticality"--does nothing but obscure Shearer's project with what Avital Ronell has called the "excess that we commonly call meaning." A reference to Prince, for example, only highlights how Shearer's systems are not similar to a Prince "ganging." His indexing of every picture of Left Garrett or Shaun Cassidy presents the sign (if not the actuality) of the fan's all-encompassing obsessive collecting, the dandy's highly edited arrangement Shearer's blatant wish, in fact, may be to circulate the imponderability of Cassidy, Garrett, and Kiss as embodiments of nonbeing resistant to theorizing, to cherry-bomb and "sabotage" the idea of culture as necessarily redemptive and therapeutic, instead of an entity that eternally dismembers and consumes. …

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