Day Phrases (2001)

At a going-away party July 30, 2001 for Director Marc Mayer of the Power Plant, Vera Frenkel told me of Freud’s habit of writing one sentence at the end of the day into a special diary, and challenged me to this practice. I took her up for a month. See the 5 September entry for my abandonment of this exercise.


Day Phrases

July 31
The film Hedwig and the Angry Inch makes me wonder: What is my aesthetic interest in the drag scene circa Jack Smith and Andy Warhol?

August 1
Spring Hurlbut’s The Final Sleep at the Royal Ontario Museum—I ask, where is the artistic soul in a literality that does not transform itself beyond the museum’s own classification systems, but only aestheticizes them?

August 2
Grand Expectorant, the interesting exhibition of drawings curated by Jay Isaac, shows that this work has the obsessiveness of art, but not its ambition: it is too mired in the eye-hand reflex, not the eye-mind transcendence; that is, it is automatic, not autonomic.

August 3
Carla Garnet’s exhibition Pools—Need it be said that curating is about finding the relation between disparate, not similar, things!

August 4
So many contemporary collections in Toronto are exactly alike, based as they are on German photography, as they used to be all alike in the sixties, dependent on American colour-field painting, which is no surprise: one-off, large-scale colour photography is the new painting.

August 5
If the magazine (as a variation on collage) for the last few decades has been the structural principle of art and, by extension, curating,  the question now is how to curate sequences of time, as duration is the new medium of art.

August 7
Stefan Brecht in his essential Queer Theatre claims perversions start at the age of fifty: Does this explain my interest in extreme queer art as my own sublimated inversion, or does it actually fulfill my perverse need for class mockery?

August 8
Hierarchies in institutions are defined by their philosophical readings: directors read Machiavelli’s Prince; curators cope with the Stoics and give themselves pleasure with the Cynics.

August 9
“But is it art?” (The Jesse Powers’ catkilling video case)—When one doctor abuses a patient, all doctors are not condemned; how different it is in art, where there is also a regulating body judging artistic acts: people forget, it is called criticism.

August 10
Hommage (Nietzsche)—“From the military school of life.—What does not kill me makes me stronger.”

August 11
Penitent erotic art—a survey of films of servantship: The Brothers Quay’s Institute Benjamenta; Guy Maddin’s Careful, Joseph Losey’s The Servant.

August 12
Is the present a baroque era?—conspiracy, hierarchies of bureaucracies...

August 13
What happened to criticism?—Seduced by theory, criticism lost its nerve, forgetting its own terrain of judgement.

August 14
Criticism has lost its effectiveness because it no longer judges, dares to say yea or nay.

August 15
Deleuze on sin: “We have forsaken moral existence in order to enter into aesthetic existence.”—We expect art to have an ethic, but not its reception, which is devoted to pleasure.

August 16
It is humbling when an artist is a better writer than one supposedly tenured to that craft by the practice of curating.

August 17
(Peter Doig at the National Gallery): Could we make an analysis of art following Tolstoy’s dictum “Every happy family...”?

August 18
Can anti-sociality be raised to a principle in writing and curating?

August 20
Artists and collectors—Some curators treat the artist as only the producer of a collectible object that is the real world basis of a transaction between the commercial gallery and the private collector; a museum would then enter this privileged scene to mediate the object’s further transition from private to public collection.

August 21
The persistent feeling that one does not belong, especially in one’s own domain, is a vital tonic to the creative impulse.

August 22
All the best philosophers work to save us from resentment.

August 23
In Vancouver art, influence on practice is contractive not expansive—a work derived from a detail can make a career . . . and then a detail of a detail.

August 26
Following philosophy, we can say that curating establishes natural or abstract relations between things: only the second is proper to it.

August 27
(Nadine Norman)—Why in the ’60s and ’70s when conceptual art was cheap (all one needed was an idea, a camera or typewriter) does it now need be such an expensive and elaborate operation?

August 28
Can curating be autobiographical? ...

August 29
Hommage (Schegel): “An historian is a prophet in reverse.”

September 5
Even to write only a sentence takes time to sit at a desk and to give the pretense of a writer’s existence.

September 7
Lola magazine profile on PM: Leibniz had a theory of possible worlds: in a apartment building, the many doors led to different possible lives of one historical character; I am the Robespierre who escaped beheading in the revolution, escaped to the country, led a mellow retirement and in old age tried to correct the faults of his youth.

September 8
Bruce LaBruce at Bailey Fine Art—At one time, the snapshot aesthetic merging with the fashion spread seemed to deframe art; now art needs its frame back, or entirely other ways of deframing itself.