[Update 4 October 2014: See the bottom of this post for a bit more.]
This is a response to Dianna Dragonetti’s recent post here, which is itself a response to Janey Smith’s “Fuck List,” originally published at this site. It’s also a response to the numerous comments on Dragonetti’s post. Because it seemed to me that, as of this writing, a lot of the debate over Smith’s post, and the book that’s apparently resulted from it (which I’ve not seen), has taken the form, “Is what Smith did art?” Mind you, I doubt this post will settle that debate, but I hope it provides
- some historical context I think relevant to Smith’s post;
- plus an argument why, at the end of the day, I don’t think that it really matters whether Smith was making art.
I guess I should also note, in passing, that my name was the first name on Smith’s “Fuck List” (thanks to the magic of alphabetization). Since I find myself (along with numerous others) the object of some obscure desire, perhaps I can offer a few thoughts on the subject.
“Every day your relationship with death changes.”
“You’ve got to be oblivious to other people-the push and pull of other people’s opinions, the way other people measure success. It’s then that you realize you are 100 percent who you are and you have to use that who-you-are 100 percent in order to create great things. And that’s very difficult because everyone wants to be better than they are. You’ve really got to get down on the floor with yourself and get low in order to make great art. I think you’ve just got to accept who you are and do the most unbelievable things.”
“I sometimes feel that I have nothing to say and I want to communicate this.”
“Artists are like everybody else.”
“And I think, you know, I like it, so I can’t understand it, I think if you’re gonna have this stuff going in your ears, you might as well have some stuff going in your eyes.”
“I wanted a shark that’s big enough to eat you, and in a large enough amount of liquid so that you could imagine you were in there with it.”
“There’s always something you missed or something you didn’t notice or somehow you got wrong… I don’t really have a beginning.”
“Architects don’t build their own houses.”
“I always feel like the art’s there and I just see it, so it’s not really a lot of work.”
“I’m more interested in why people are frightened by Jaws and why Jaws was such a hit than saying Spielberg’s my main influence.”
“Sometimes when you’re drunk you can see better.”
“I always liked the fact that you get these totally unacceptable images, but they’re taken by a really expensive photographer, with great light, and in terms of the quality of the photograph it’s a great photograph, but in terms of imagery it’s unacceptable, and I like that contradiction.”
“People say to me that my work’s sensational. And I go, “What’s wrong with sensation? It’s like touching skin.” Sensation is an element of what I do, and why not? It’s not sensational for the sake of being sensational, but it’s sensational art.”
“I don’t think I invented anything. It’s like I just saw it, just because I did it first. The road was there. It was going to happen.”
“It’s good to have a title that’s not just one word. If you’re gonna title it, you might as well try and say something.”
“There’s no possible way you can get what you want.”
“The great thing about painting now is that I’ve gotten to the point where I can forget everything just by doing it. And I never used to be able to do that.”
“I just wanted to find out where the boundaries were. I’ve found out there aren’t any. I wanted to be stopped but no one will stop me.”
“I don’t mind if it falls over… if you break the glass you replace the glass, if the sheep falls out you can always get a new sheep.”
“Warhol said a brilliant thing. He said if anybody slags anything off, make more.”
Every morning I pass a paint splatter that makes me think of the Misfits, but in my version the man had syphilis, an affliction which eventually corrodes the skull. I don’t like punk, or at least I don’t understand it; feels bourgeois almost, like not wearing a shirt and screaming seems like a privilege, and if you still have food at the end of the day, then thank you Safeway and why you bitchin’? When I was 17, it was a pretty bad year. I was listening to hair bands, reading Penthouse letters, and testing my small yellow middle-finger for the first time.
What you don’t see are decaying leaves on the pavement, as I cropped them for aesthetic reasons. So a long time ago on Tennessee and 22nd st. in the “Dogpatch” area in Potrero district, a painter spilled some white paint on the sidewalk, maybe even accidentally stepped in it, then walked away; he was a contractor probably, who just painted a house he didn’t live in so it didn’t really matter. Maybe that’s god, some guy who painted skin on us, then walked away.