FAILURE: Idealism and Doubt

I’m happy to say that this post is brought to you from New York City. Here I am and there I go, looking for places to live, and reading on the subway...

So here are my picks from the second section of FAILURE: Documents of Contemporary Art.

Paul Watzlawick
On the Nonsense of Sense and the Sense of Nonsense//1995

This small excerpt accurately portrays a primary theme of Failure. That more is known, perceived, and gained from the absence of having a specific successful goal.
Ernst Von Glasersfeld writes in his introduction to Radical Constructivism:
“Somewhat more metaphorical would be the following analogy: the captain of a ship has to cross straits that he does not know and does not have a chart for nor navigational help such as a beacon, etc. on a stormy, dark night. In the circumstances only two things are possible: Either he sails into a cliff and loses his ship and his life; in the last moment of his life he realizes that the reality of the straits was not as he imagined and his course did not correspond with the actuality of the straits. Or he reaches the open sea; then he knows only that his course was accurate but no more. He does not know whether there could have been easier, shorter crossings than the one he blindly chose. And he does not know what the real condition of the strait was.”
Glasersfeld creates a metaphor that paints perfectly that it is impossible to know the true reality of the straits, to assume a single successful way through is impossible.
I like imagining art this way, that you sail through projects without a specific end in sight, that openness leads you to the open sea, making it clear how much more is gained from dropping a specific notion of success.

Now you know and it doesn't change anything., 2011, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches

Jennifer Higgie
The Embarrassing Truth: Matthew Brannon//1995

I really enjoyed the style of this essay. Higgie focuses on how Brannon’s non sequiturs play a unique role in his work. “Brannon also mines non sequiturs within an inch of their baffling lives: for example, the words ‘Steak dinner’ underline an image of bananas, while another picture of what appears to be a pot of fish is captioned “Compliance & Resentment’. A silhouette of a blackbird, some pencils, an ipod, paper clips and a coffee stain is accompanied by the words ‘Pigs Like Amazing what they found. Among the arugula, watercress, blue fin tuna, age dried steak. There it is. Your heart. And Look... a bunch of razor blades. Little Light bulbs. Cocaine. Little travel bottles. Anti-depressants. Your old untouched job application’. Fun right?

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