Tuesday, October 06, 2009

OCTOBER 129: Chan and Buchloh

I don't normally read OCTOBER. And not because I don't admire it. I was raised on it, but for some reason I just forget it exists sometimes. Reading some of the current issue, I was very moved by Paul Chan's "The Spirit of Recession" and Benjamin Buchloh's "Raymond Pettibon: After Laughter." Chan is one of the most intellectual and politically minded artists I know working today, and his piece goes to show it as he takes apart the cultural politics (if not the obscure economics) of 'recession' through recourse to autobiography, essay, and polemic about the state of visual arts. Buchloh's "After Laughter" is a brilliant and clear reading of Raymond Pettibon's oeuvre situating the artist's work within a tradition of fine art and political caricature. His basic argument: that Pettibon goes beyond caricature in order to invent a rhetorically slippery drawing practice that can adequately respond to post-70s Right-wing 'spin' and (post-) Reagan-era power dynamics. Not having written (or even had an intelligent conversation) about Pettibon's drawings before, but always having admired them, I was very moved to read something that so clearly expressed my own intuitions towards Pettibon's work. Buchloh's article makes me wonder who is taking-up Pettibon's rhetorically astute caricature among a younger generation of artists. And what writers/poets have a sustained drawing practice in the service of their politics.

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