"Dan Graham has always pointed beyond in his work: beyond the art object, beyond the studio, beyond the medium, beyond the gallery, beyond the self. Beyond all these categories and into the realm of the social, the public, the democratic, the mass produced, the architectural, the anarchic, and the humorous."
Text cut-and-pasted from the website of the Whitney Museum, describing the catalog for its recently-opened Graham retrospective. The pounding rhythm and faulty parallelism amuse, but also epitomize the kind of priestly incantation spoken or sung over contemporary art. We must be assured and soothed that every market player in the art world is in fact anti-object and anti-gallery, a selfless Walt Whitman-like figure that embraces, nay, merges, with the democratic mass, doing good works over a lifetime of artistic philanthropy. In earlier posts we have experimented with the above copy, reversing the nouns and adjectives to make the artist sound like an egotist, running permutations of the false parallels, and comparing all the "beyonds" to statements in a newspaper article that suggest that Graham is not really so beyond as all that. We need a New, Improved way of talking about art: the reflexive populism is starting to creak.