The Orange and the Grey…

During the summer I will be posting chunks of research for a series of articles I would like to write, a series of long narrative essays about the New York art world since Andy Warhol’s death. Rather than attempting to catalogue the entire history I will zero in on a few key moments, try to describe them in as much, and as realistic detail as possible and then unpack why these moments are important. The first is about relational aesthetics and Rikrit Tiravanija’s Untitled (1992) Free . Relational aesthetics bother me, and I don’t quite understand why, so my first stab at this will attempt to unravel where this discomfort comes from.

From ArtNet - image by David Zwirner Gallery

Here’s a skeleton of an article I’m writing…

* When Dinner Tore Art from the Walls *

SoHo has since molted and shed all but a few select morsels of grime, but in 1992, five years after Andy Warhol had died, the old manufacturers’ cast iron pillars looked as if they were about to topple, needle-drug-users still nodded off in the alleyways, and there were real live artists living and working in the lofts above. Galleries too. But the art on display in those was wanting for something vital. (TKTK quote) Money was one of the reasons why. Prices had soared during the 1980s. Various crazes had swollen and crested bringing with them a glut of mediocre imitators; and then the market collapsed, (tktk proof) wiping out the small timers and scaring the established. By 1992 prices had yet to recover. (tktk somethign about art prices being X fraction of what they used to betktk) But there was more than a lack of money haunting New York’s art scene. It was bleaker and darker and more dangerous than that. Andy [Warhol] was dead. Basqiat died a few months later. Keith Haring had died in 1990. AIDS was devastating New York’s gay community ; artists were murdering one another (TKTK art murders club murders race riots); violent crime levels were peaking and everything, everyone in the community was obsessed with money, gloom and death – and it seemed like all the art work reflected this.

((examples of said art work – Peter Halley, Kiki Smith, hard edged geometric abstraction and weird relationships with the human body – like bottles of aids blood; also something about the Brits – Damien Hirst et al were all graduating Goldsmith’s around then))

On a Thursday afternoon gallery crawlers snaking their way through SoHo’s 89 Greene Street caught a whiff of something strange but… rich, complex and delicious. (TKTK quote) As they made their way around the tight columns on the xx floor toward the 303 Gallery they saw, not a white walled gallery but a small Asian man stirring a tureen of bubbling yellow curry and rice steaming in large pots, and the gallery itself was… nothing, just filled with garbage bins and filling cabinets and people clutching TKTKTTK and swallowing chunks of warm, nutritious curry. Strangest of all, this warm, nutritious food was free. They were ladling out to anyone who wanted any…

((interview with attendees))

From here I would like to talk to people who attended the dinners – i.e. was the food any good, what was the scene around it, how special of a moment was it…

Then I will talk about what the work means:

(analysis of the work then – what it meant in 1992)

-an inversion of an art gallery, back office stuff items pushed forward into the gallery space, back office converted into a makeshift galley which served Thai food

-meaning nutrition etc. moved forward again… against the idea of body as an abstraction or the abstract relationship with the body that abstract art has

-the food was free, anyone could sit at the same table as the artist… hierarchies destroyed, the marketplace pushed away

-mocking Andy Warhol’s factory, mimicking Gordon Matta-Clark

-the creation of community, the dinner as a communal thing creating a community

After talking about what the work meant then, I’d try to ground it with a little historical context:

(historical context))

Yves Klein: Blue Monochrome (MoMA - New York)
(Photo courtesy of Sergio Calleja)

-long history of intervening in the body – Yves Klien once handed out cocktails laced with methylene blue, a chemical which dyed gallery-goers pee blue

how Rirkrit staged the project again and again, altering things slightly, hiring surrogates, playing with racial and social dynamics

– the 2007 recreation of the project

((then my sort of spin on what relational aesthetics has done))

– the naïve painting that followed (e.g. his ex-wife Elizabeth Peyton who painted faux teenage rock stars etc)

-how relational aesthetics was corrupted by/contributed to the institutionalization of art

– identity politics in art

-how it hurt abstraction

End on a dinner scene of some sort

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Portfolio

The Gelatinous Death of the Jet Age (Return with the Elixir)

You’ve reached the portfolio belonging to James Brandon McGirk. This visit may be recorded and its analytics used as fodder for anxiety and speculation. What would you like to do today?

Read his writing.

See his images.

Explore his interactive games.

Interactive Serious Games

Saffron (a serious spice).

ImpactGames

PlaytheNewsGame, Winner of a James Knight Foundation Best News Game)

GeoVol

All that remains is this news story.

WikiStrat

Most of the older blue bordered reports have substantial contributions from yours truly.

Parametric Press

NB: This is a work in progress, Parametric Press has commissioned this game and I’m in the process of working with them and their team. (Link to working outline)

The story I want to write is very location- and decision-based which is why I think it needs an interactive interface – plus I like the idea of the decisions being made having consequences for the reader/player. There was a Native American college in Oklahoma (Bacone College) that used to be one of the best in the country, particularly for a kind of peculiar style of art called Flat Style painting — a kind of sleek modern 50s interpretation of Native American visual culture — they used to let artists live on the campus in exchange for letting them teach a few classes and that they left some of their work. Fifty years later and the campus is destitute, they can’t pay professors, yet it’s filled with dusty, decaying art. 


You play an adjunct art professor. I’d like to write what seems like crime drama taking place in the college (in that the inciting incident would be deciding to make off with some art work) but gradually would explore some of the complex racial and financial dynamics at play in a ruined Southern Baptist tribal university. South Eastern Indian culture was so thoroughly eradicated that what remains is largely a construct; there’s also the ethics of stealing, and then the escape itself. 


My technical skills aren’t too bad. Besides a somewhat experimental body of work (my most recent creative essay was for a cryptocurrency magazine and was a ‘decentralized history of Bitcoin’) I have experience writing copy for games (I used to be the editorial lead for a serious game called PlaytheNewsGame). And I would imagine keeping this to about four potential endings (meaning lots of overlapping forks). My programming skills are limited to basic HTML for now but am willing and eager to learn.

Return to Portfolio page

Read some writing

View some images

Read his writing…

(Tbilisi)

There’s a lot of it. You’re welcome to dive into the pile. But the damn thing is riddled with bit-rot and paywalls. So let me offer suggestions and an occasional link to a Google doc or Web Archive.

Care for some awful situationist poetry? (Why We Trash Hotel Rooms). This one is better: (Armour Brand Thyroid Bottle). This one was given the Gordon Lish treatment by a teenage editor but was better for it: (The Op in the Expanded Field) and reprinted by Wake Forest Press in a handsome volume.

Before I forget: here’s a combination of personal memoir with archival images I found from grandfather’s exploration of the Amazon: My Grandfather’s Imposter.

Here’s a link to my Amazon page: (James McGirk) There you’ll find my Kindle Singles. Here’s a piece I did for The Paris Review. (Satan Comes to Oklahoma City: Facing Fears in the Sooner State).

If you read my personal statement you’ve already read the first place winner of the 2016 Oklahoma Society for Professional Journalists Best Writing Award. This one, published in the much-missed THIS LAND PRESS, is typical of what I enjoy writing the most: (The Horror of the Ouachita Mountains). Here’s one about Vaporwave: (The New Flesh PDF, page 95). I gave a condensed version of it as a speech at the Oklahoma Innovation Institute’s annual conference — which was a massive thing sponsored by Texas Instruments and I was sandwiched between three pipeline corrosion experts and my slide show of “sexual golf” was deemed quite peculiar.

Let me close with a link to my last Bitcoin story, it’s interactive, I wrote a deconstructed history of Bitcoin for 21Cryptos Magazine (A Deconstructed History of Bitcoin’s Last Decade). 1F24KqhGNCnEVvAPcq2Z41BkrAb8PRq91h

Return to the portfolio page

Look at his images

Read about his work with interactive games

Exchanges in the Crosshairs

https://www.21cryptos.com/product/21-cryptos-digital-magazine-december-issue-14/
Check out my latest article in 21Cryptos describing the SEC’s crackdown on the crypto.

The Next Bull

Check out my latest cover story in 21cryptos magazine. I spoke with a couple of experts who were approaching crypto from different philosophies and found they both came to a remarkably similar conclusion. Plus analysis with behavior economics, 4chan/biz mythology and tiny bubble lore.

Supermodel!

The Plot(s) to Stabilize Venzuela

Latest article for 21Cryptos magazine. Saving the world’s worst economic crisis with Cryptocurrency – discusses a few recent attempts by crypto-currency companies and foundations to stabilize Venezuelan hyper-inflation by increasing the adoption of crypto-currencies.

Internet 3.0 will start in the third world | 21cryptos

Why the developing world will likely leap-frog the west when it comes to adopting to the “internet of money.” 

“The New Flesh” essay in Angel City Review

PDF link to the magazine.

Awarded Art 365 Grant

Amy and I were selected as 2017 Art 365 artists by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

Art 365 is an exhibition from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition which offers five Oklahoma artists a year and $12,000 to create innovative artwork in collaboration with a nationally recognized curator. The artists work with a guest curator for one year to create a body of original artwork for the exhibition.