Saturday, September 18, 2004

Noontime Chat, Sept 15 

Wednesday, Sept 15: Corporate Culture vs. Individual Identity

In the upper stories of the Wieden & Kennedy building, Erin Boberg led a discussion with Northwest artists Andrew Dickson & Khaela Maricich about their relationship to the corporate realm. The intersection between art and business is a topic I have been migrating towards during the past year for two reasons: firstly, because I have been working with my husband to create a small business specializing in graphic design software, and secondly, because I have been engaged in extended discussions about the great potential for artistic infiltration in more commercial realms as a means of reclaiming the art market.

I wrote earlier about Dickson’s eBay Powerseller performance, and I must admit that the lecture didn’t resolve my ambivalence towards the fact that his work rests in a no-man’s land between post-modern displacement and the Modern notion that art is life and life is art. He admitted that his work is largely without critique, perhaps with the exception of the obstacles faced by artists in Portland and the U.S. who try to eke out a living in a system unendowed with the kinds of grant-giving, artist-friendly infrastructures of places like Europe. I’ll be interested to see what direction Dickson’s work will take now that he has transcended economic hardship as an eBay Powerseller–will he use his newfound position to continue bringing commercial paradigms into the art world, or will he find new ways to infiltrate the business world as an artist?

I have not seen Maricich perform, though I have heard of her performances under the monkier, The Blow. She discussed a project she has been researching during her residency at the Wieden & Kennedy building. From what I gather, she is giving a presentation on a fictitious Swiss company, Remosch, which specializes in developing physical daily conditioning routines for individuals as a way of treating mental illness and, in Marichich’s words rebuild “the fiber of yourself.” These routines are based on an elaborate taxonomy of individual social “types” (e.g punk, conservative, old, young, etc.) that Maricich has derived from her own observations in town. Though she is building a real business that sells videos according to these methods, it is unclear exactly what is at the core of the project. She grew up in the midst of her own family’s successful small business, and as a result has naturally gravitated towards the American entrepreneurial spirit. Like Dickson, she was not prepared to admit that she was staging a critique on either business practice or the art economy. Though she attempts to carry out her art projects within an elaborate business structure, the conceptual basis for her use of these business structures gives way to poetics and performance.

--Katherine Bovee

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