I’ve decided to try something new around here: a daily outtake, a snippet of the day that could lead to something larger–a meatier post, an article, a project–but might also lead to nothing more than the post itself.
Because if I wait until I have time to write a full post here, I’ll never get around to posting; because I like the idea of using the blog as a scrapbook for filing notes; and because you never know what tidbits of daily life can produce really interesting conversations.
And that’s what I’ve always wanted this space to be: a place where the words I share serve as invitation for you to tell me what you’re doing, reading, thinking, and experiencing.
So today’s outtake is a quick thought about “One of a Kind,” the current exhibit by Stainless that’s showing at The 8th Floor, a Manhattan gallery for Cuban art. This was my first time seeing the collective’s work and I’ll admit I was a bit underwhelmed, though I did find the video installation piece pretty funny.
Sometimes it’s the case that the idea of an exhibit is better than the exhibit itself, and that’s how I feel about “One of a Kind.” The questions the exhibit raises, which are articulated most clearly by Ted Henken in his essay found in the show’s program, are pretty compelling, especially in the context of Cuban art, but also, more generally, in the context of, as Henken says, in “the digital age, when virtually any media product…can be perfectly reproduced and endlessly shared an unlimited number of times at negligible cost in a multiplicity of formats[.]”
“Does the value we give an ‘original’ diminish, erode away to nothing in this context…?” he asks, or “does our praise for the ‘one of a kind’ in fact increase in direct proportion to our ability to copy and share (sub) ‘versions’ of it with our ‘friends’?”
The way that Stainless insinuates these questions is by showing works that are “displayed as one of an unknown number of copies, rather than a singular inimitable object.” Now that I find intriguing, as it challenges the system by which art has traditionally been marketed and sold. But the works themselves feel banal to me, especially “Cosmos Advertising,” which depicts stars, planets, and galaxies as brand logos.
So would I recommend seeing this exhibit? If you’re going for the work itself, no. But if you want to challenge basic assumptions about art as merchandise, then yes; the exhibit is worth your time.