Regarding the press copy for Boris Groys' upcoming lecture at SVA, "Everyone is an artist," as the blogger Atrios might say, "The Stupid! It burns me!!!"
Contemporary art has become a mass cultural practice. Millions of people create their own archives and present them to others. Artistic rights have begun to manifest themselves as general human rights. Joseph Beuys' famous maxim, "everyone is an artist" is no longer a prediction of a utopian future but rather an accurate description of the status quo.
For "artist" substitute "surgeon," "air traffic controller," "poet," "novelist," or "serialist composer" to get the full flavor for how bad this passage is. With instant censorship on YouTube and the destruction of federally-funded artist grants the climate for "artistic rights" remains as poor as it's ever been in the US. When we artists killed formal criticism in the '80s (which is not the same as "formalist" although the two overlapped) we made ourselves sitting geese for shaky shoulder-held missile launchers like Groys. Any other field would not tolerate this kind of loose, "happy talk" writing about what its practitioners do. Odd that the School of Visual Arts participates in its own de-certification in this way.
Concerning the Beuys quote, can't remember where this comes from but it's relevant: "There's a saying in Bali, 'no one is an artist,' which is to say everyone is." Well, the US is not Bali. Puritan roots are as embedded here as hookworm. Sharing your pics on Facebook does not make you polymorphously perverse. Or good.
Update: Attended the Groys lecture at SVA and his rap wasn't as bad as the press release (he has a sense of humor). He didn't say a word about "Artistic rights have begun to manifest themselves as general human rights" --who the heck wrote that? Notes on the lecture are here.
Update 2: Am now reading Groys' book Art Power. There is a chapter called "Equal Aesthetic Rights" but no statement in it as idiotic as ""Artistic rights have begun to manifest themselves as general human rights." "Equal aesthetic rights" is ironic: another term for what's been called "unibrow"--a mix or leveling of so-called high- and lowbrow. Will update again about this, but it's looking like Groys could sue SVA for making him sound like a dork.