Artforum covered DIS Magazine last year and gushed:
What DIS had discovered -- but what much of the art world still didn’t know -- was that exclusivity had become obsolete. “Cool” wasn’t cool -- the old downtown underground had lost its appeal. The goal was no longer to subvert the mainstream, but to refashion it in subversion’s own image. To be sure, DIS’s impact was more to rebrand cool rather than to actually obliterate social and aesthetic hierarchies, but its rebranding was not without worldly consequence. On the heels of a downtown era defined by Ryan McGinley’s vampire sidekicks and Purple’s aging pornographers, the culture propelled by DIS and affiliated parties like GHE20G0TH1K felt like a life-affirming, gender-fluid, multiracial utopia -- the legatee, in some ways, of earlier art-music-nightlife moments, from disco to the Club Kids, but filtered through the Internet era’s more expansive potential for commingling.
In the article, Artforum reprinted a photo of the DIS staff, posing as annoying hipsters, barefoot and wearing beige casualwear.
On the present blog, this self-aware (yet somehow utopian?) image was paired yesterday with a photo of people riding a conferencebike. Sincere-sincere downscale corporate culture meets fake-sincere, with fake-sincere (yet somehow utopian) coming out rather the worst for the comparison, I thought.
In the chat that follows, dis explainer (name changed to protect the innocent) accuses this blog of not getting that DIS is playing double-head-fake, 6th dimensional taste chess. Read and learn:
dis explainer that dis photo had me dying
tommoody that was in artforum!
tommoody at least online
dis explainer which part
tommoody it was an essay about Dis
dis explainer with those 2 images next to each other?
tommoody no just the Dis staff
dis explainer oh yeah
dis explainer well that's an old photo
dis explainer from like 2010
dis explainer old hat
tommoody i don't care if it's old - it's still stupid
dis explainer i think it's self aware [explanations of irony mechanics omitted for brevity]
Artforum describes DIS as a "magazine" (obviously with an "art" component) and recites its "origin myth":
In late 2009, a year after the crash, a group of friends working in various corners of New York’s culture industry saw their freelance work dry up. Suddenly, they had a lot of time on their hands, and the idea emerged through an email chain to start a digital magazine. “It was an interesting moment,” Lauren Boyle told me in a recent interview. “People were still afraid of tweeting too much! At that time, DAZED, ID, Interview—they weren’t picking up the people we were interested in. We started organizing the community a little bit.”
Lauren and her partner, Marco Roso, an artist who sidelined in advertising, would host big evening meetings at their house on Hooper Street in South Williamsburg. The meetings would mist into parties, and the parties would morph into photo shoots. Eventually, the meetings/parties/shoots were whittled down to a core group of seven, including, in addition to Roso and Boyle: Solomon Chase, who had been doing fashion styling for print and TV; David Toro, a research assistant and art handler; Nick Scholl, a web developer who for years served as the magazine’s webmaster; Patrik Sandberg, a writer; and Samuel Adrian Massey III, a product developer.
Four of the founding editors had attended art school and had chosen to live in New York City over pursuing traditional art careers. “If I had wanted to paint,” said Boyle, “I would have gone to Philadelphia or Baltimore or Berlin.” Roso, who was a bit older and had an established art practice, moved to New York from Spain after spending eight years burning through various artist residencies. “When I lived in Europe, my life was just linked to grants—one grant after another. You hit a point where you go through all the grants.” Not that Roso thought artists in America were much better off—they were dependent on the gallery system. In New York, though, you could find freelance work in fashion or advertising while pursuing art on the side.
The editors decided to organize as an LLC rather than as a nonprofit because they didn’t want to rely on donors or grant-giving bodies. Instead, they nursed the dream that some day their magazine would make money.
So it's barefoot-people-but-not-really running a magazine-but-not-really. People could have differing ideals for how an arty quasi-magazine should present itself, however. Back to the chat with dis explainer (redacted for brevity):
tommoody you can't do barefoot and say it's a joke
dis explainer joke isn't the right word
tommoody i like when magazine staffs were ugly people behind the scenes
tommoody journalists didn't make themselves part of the story
tommoody indulge in narcissism
dis explainer dis magazine was never about journalism, or even blogging.
tommoody i thought it was a magazine
tommoody with stories, etc
dis explainer it's a magazine in the same way saturday night live is a tv show
tommoody mad magazine's staff called themselves "the usual gang of idiots"
dis explainer it's more a culture, a group of people making shit.. an evolving collective
tommoody yeah but barefoot and beige clothes --- YUCK
tommoody it's not funny
tommoody and it was written about in Artforum
dis explainer so because u think barefoot is dumb or gauche or something that means...?
dis explainer that artforum shouldn't write about it
tommoody artforum anoints their hokey statement as "art"
dis explainer so what?
tommoody so i paired it with a conferencebike
tommoody i prefer the conference bike as a goofy corporate statement
dis explainer because i thought the pairing was a lighthearted commentary making fun of when satirizing corny consumer culture gets serious.. not a vitriolic debasement of "taste".. something which you of all people should know really is a fluid thing
tommoody "a lighthearted commentary making fun of when satirizing corny consumer culture gets serious" - that sounds right
tommoody but at the expense of Dis, too
dis explainer so don't become a dick about it saying who deserves what based on the fact u dont like something as trite as pastels
tommoody i'm not being a dick by disliking the Dis schtick
tommoody i have that right
Update: minor corrections to who-said-what