Pottersville R US

Rich Cohen, exploring the dark side of It's a Wonderful Life in Salon:

Here's my point: I do not think the hidden message vanishes when the movie goes Hollywood and happy. I believe the resolution of the darker movie is, in fact, still there, wrapped around the happy ending of the classic. Look again at the closing frames -- shots of Jimmy Stewart staring at his friends. In most, he's joyful. But in a few, he's terrified. As I said, this is a terrifying movie. An hour earlier George was ready to kill himself. He has now returned from a death experience. He was among the unborn, had crossed over like Dante's hero, had seen this world from beyond the veil. In those frames -- "The Night Journey of George Bailey" -- I don't think he's seeing the world that would exist had he never been born. I think he's seeing the world as it does exist, in his time and also in our own.

George had been living in Pottersville all along. He just didn't know it. Because he was seeing the world through his eyes -- not as it was, but as he was: honest and fair. But on "The Night Journey," George is nothing and nobody. When the angel took him out of his life, he took him out of his consciousness, out from behind his eyes. It was only then that he saw America. Bedford Falls was the fantasy. Pottersville is where we live. If you don't believe me, examine the dystopia of the Capra movie -- the nighttime world of neon bars and drunks and showgirl floozies. Does Bedford Falls feel more like the place you live, or does Pottersville? I live in a place that looks very much like Bedford Falls, but after 10 minutes in line at the bank or in the locker room where the squirts are changing for hockey I know I'm in Pottersville.

Update: Link to Salon article broke; fixed now. That publication used to be good about maintaining links; bummer.

late troemers

Wrote this email to a writer who had seen my name referenced on the Brad Troemel "minor league" thread. The writer took the subject of Troemel's article to be how emerging artists are employing the internet (social media and blogs) to self-promote, a theme the writer had recently covered in an article.

Hi, _________,
Thanks for emailing. I am little outside the circles of promotion you describe in your article. I started blogging in '01 (after a longish gallery and print career) and it took the artworld 6 years to get online en masse (with the advent of Facebook). In those six years I mostly met and hung out with new media people, who were already online.
Troemel's essay is aimed mostly at new media people. Because a few of them showed at Spencer Brownstone gallery, for a one night only event, he drew the rather facile and incorrect conclusion that new media was a "minor league" feeding artists into the gallery system. As Paddy suggested in her comment, the essay shows that he is fresh out of school and doesn't know anything about the gallery system or artist motivations. If you gleaned anything else from the essay I'm happy to hear it!
Best, Tom

dump and judy

Was asked to explain the reference to Judy Chicago in discussing dump.fm's top 10 nod.

Short Judy Chicago synopsis:
Artist working in late '60s California paints with airbrush, combines late color field abstraction with biker, hippie, tattoo motifs.
In the large scale installation The Dinner Party (on permanent view at the Brooklyn Museum), that painting sensibility collides with early-'70s anti-painting trends: an interest in craft, history, narrative, process.
The Dinner Party is a collective work made by a large group of women who came together at a particular time and place to do the various elements of the installation: sewing, needlepoint, ceramics, writing, and historical research into significant past women from Susan B. Anthony to Gertrude Stein.
Chicago's "hippy abstractions," ranging from delicate mandala patterns to raging mutant vagina forms, are on plates at each historical figure's place setting.
The piece is an interesting, anomalous clash of sensibilities. Some have called it "feminist kitsch" but that's too easy. It is ultimately a fairly austere, minimal work for being so crammed with information.
In any case, there was later a bunch of fighting about who authored the piece: many of the women who worked on the craft and narrative aspects of it felt burned that it was going into the art history books as a "work by Judy Chicago." They felt it was a violation and betrayal that this work of feminist "anti-form," "anti-authorship" suddenly had a solo auteur with relatively anonymous subcontractors.

It'd be going too far to call dump.fm, with its screens full of dicks, feminist. It does, however, have an interesting gender balance of users, making it completely different from the cesspit of toxic masculinity, oh, pardon me, relational aesthetics bulletin board, that it is often compared to.