Is it possible to equate art and crime? Our company just received this publicity for Canson Infinity paper which is sponsoring John Botte for his tenth anniversary 9/11 photographs. It’s being held at the Morrison Hotel Gallery and is curated by Timothy White, a well-known photographer as well. To have corporate sponsors on a subject matter as tragic as this is a bit odd. Its like Margaret Bourque-White having a sponsor for her dead Nazi photos in 1945. That Botte has chosen to aestheticize 9-11 is also a bit questionable. But then Canson is a French company; and the French have a love/hate relationship with American culture which involves a cultural snobbery of criticism made meaningless by groveling over some of the more vulgar elements of U.S. lowbrow culture. Typically, this is a harsh criticism over mass-market dietary choices, yet they pack their suitcases with Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines instants. So, you have to wonder if Canson is giving us the “botte”.
” Ruins bore me. And when they interest me, it is not in their being ruins, but in their being interesting forms or figures, even if ruined. ” -Paul Valery
The theory is that the ruin, destruction, permits a form to speak its truth, it so called narrative script and assigned role being torn away. The form becomes articulated and emancipated free of previous intention. Free from the constraints of architecture, the form finds a purely formal role not part of a greater aesthetic story and a given context. The ruin then becomes a purifier of form; a kind of abstract expressionism or minimalism rising out of the nihilistic act of destruction. So, the ruin is a liberating of form from its slavery to function and practicality. In the wake of 9-11, forms such as doors, pillars, awnings etc. remain in the debris, but they recapture there so-called self-hood as forms while their functions are pitched literally into oblivion; the scrap heap of history.
William Osborne: Stockhausen mentions that a journalist misconstrued his statements, but I wonder if that is true. He was dismissed from the festival, not because of what the journalist reported, but because the festival’s administrators were also at the press conference and heard exactly what he said. If it had been so harmless as he suggests, I doubt they would have taken the draconian measure of canceling his concerts.
In any case, I found an article in German with more of Stockhausen’s statement about the recent terrorism. It also exemplifies the cycles of revelation, destruction, remorse and rebirth that characterize patriarchal transcendental idealism. After Stockhausen described the WTC bombing as “the greatest work of art ever” a journalist asked him if he equated art and crime. He answered:
“It is a crime because the people were not agreed. They didn’t go to the ‘concert.’ That is clear. And no one gave them notice that they might pass away [draufgehen]. What happened there spiritually, this jump out of security, out of the everyday, out of life, that happens sometimes poco a poco in art. Otherwise it is nothing.”…
…Again we see an artist-prophet’s transcendentalist view that art must be a revelation, a process of spiritual death, remorse and rebirth, or it is valueless. It is interesting in history how often artist-prophets have confused human life itself with the material of their “creations.” I think this form of transcendental idealism that objectifies human life has played a large, but unacknowledged, role in the development of western art music. Perhaps it is most noticeable in the way large numbers of musicians are instrumentalized under the absolute authority of the “inspired” patriarchal conductor in symphony orchestras. (Think of the of the conductors who terrorized their musicians, such as Reiner or Toscannini.) The human, in effect, becomes a fantasy of the conductor’s own mind. This might be seen as one manifestation of patriarchy in music. Read More:http://www.osborne-conant.org/documentation_stockhausen.htm
There is one other point. Whether it was “the greatest work of art ever” or “Lucifer’s greatest work of art,” why would someone want to refer to an act of mass murder as art? ( Osborne)
Julie Spinola: Asked at a press conference on Monday for his view of the events, Stockhausen answered that the attacks were “the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos.” According to a tape transcript from public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk, he went on: “Minds achieving something in an act that we couldn’t even dream of in music, people rehearsing like mad for 10 years, preparing fanatically for a concert, and then dying, just imagine what happened there. You have people who are that focused on a performance and then 5,000 people are dispatched to the afterlife, in a single moment. I couldn’t do that. By comparison, we composers are nothing. Artists, too, sometimes try to go beyond the limits of what is feasible and conceivable, so that we wake up, so that we open ourselves to another world.” Read More:http://www.osborne-conant.org/documentation_stockhausen.htm …In a circular letter sent out by e-mail, the Italian playwright and Nobel laureate Dario Fo also stated his opinion on the attacks: “Big speculators joyfully splash about in an economy that lets millions of people die every year in misery. What are 20,000 dead in New York by comparison? … Regardless of who carried out the massacre, this violence is the legitimate daughter of the culture of violence, hunger and inhumane exploitation.”
While Fo’s statement is evidence of a cynical anti-Americanism, Stockhausen’s words appear as the monstrous result of radical artistic egocentrism. To the victims of terrorism, both the composer’s mental descent into hell and the aging left-wing writer’s stale, calculating spite must seem like hideous mockery.( Spinola )