A Law of the Commune

In the nineteenth century Leopold von Sacher-Masoch created the term “A Law of the Commune,” a collective guarantee and the modus operandi of a Dionysian Weltanschauung with its characteristic autochthony of collective somatics. It is precisely this, in the opinion of the father of masochism, which fermented relations within peasant families, collectives and agrarian sects. Such forms of corporeality, under the conditions of their transplantation to an urban milieu, proved to have a rare gift for converting the other into the same and manifested an appetite for autonomy, for collapsing in upon themselves (ghettocentrism).

Immediately after the Revolution, Lenin issued a requisition order for city apartments (especially in the central areas) in order to divide them up among the poor: the norm was set at one room per person. By 1924, this norm was reduced to eight square meters per person. Following Lenin’s death in 1924 and the concurrent curtailing of the NEP (New Economic Policy) in Soviet Russia, there began a period of collectivization identifiable with the initial steps of the so-called Stalinist revolution. The peasantry, which in pre-Revolutionary Russia had constituted the overwhelming majority of the population, was, for the most part, forcibly recruited into collective farms. The remainder were either wiped out or banished to distant regions of the country to perform forced labor. A significant number were compelled to migrate to urban areas. This last phenomenon engendered a housing problem of enormous proportions, one that even today awaits a solution. Stalin exploited this situation in order to further his project of de-individualizing the consciousness and the daily life of the Soviet people. City apartments, as provided by law, became as populous as anthills. This “uplotnenie” reached its climax when two or three different tenants were compelled to live in one room. Families of every social, national, and culture-ethnic group were forced to cleave together into a single communal body.

The urban peasantry of Stalin’s epoch not only swallowed and assimilated other forms of class identity (such as the proletariat and intelligentsia), but also “erected” their own “house of being” known as “communal speech corporeality.” In this (pseudo-Heideggerian) “house,” as Kabakov said, “the degree of the helplessness of communal life before the outside world is horrifying. No one in a communal apartment will fix a loose board or a broken faucet, because all these functions from eviction to repairs are performed by it.” (2) Alongside the communal speech that immeasurably dominated transplanted urban domiciles, homo-communalis knew another (Apollonian), extra-communal speech: the voice of power (the rhetoric of the polis) that blared from Soviet radios. On the level of artistic practices, this voice reified itself in the form of what, following Max Horkheimer, may be called the “affirmative culture” of Socialist Realism. Interrelations between the latter and communal speech gradually evolved from dialogical to antithetical, i.e., from a Bakhtinian “two-world condition” to a binary opposition (the de-individualizing imperatives of “A Law of the Commune” versus the ultimate individualism of autocratic power as personified by Stalin, Krushchev, or Brezhnev). The gap that divided these clashing rocks provided a niche for a third language. Both Monastyrsky’s conceptualism and the actions of the CA group gravitated toward the textuality of this scheme.

An attempt to grasp the essence of Russia prince Vyazemsky

One hundred and sixty-two years ago in an attempt to grasp the essence of Russia prince Vyazemsky remarked, “from thought to thought one must gallop hundreds of miles.” This idea confirms that the perception of space in Russia has always gravitated to the extremes with total disregard towards what lies in-between. After the Revolution, this polarity acquired hysterogenic dimension which was caused on the one hand by the suffocating closeness in the relationships between the tenants of overcrowded communal apartments, and on the other by the overwhelming presence of the vast caesural territories. In the former USSR, the notions relating to a sense of space (such as migration and travel) would frequently be substituted for or confused with those connected to temporality (be it Futuristic sentiment or searching for “temps perdu”). Reflecting upon this phenomenon, the Moscow artist and theorist Andrei Monastyrsky places Ilya Kabakov’s conceptualism and his own performances of the late 1970s and early 1980s within what he calls the “ontology of surface (space).” He contrasts this with Western conceptualism which for him evolves within the framework of the “ontology of action (time).” Now that it is no longer unthinkable for Russian artists to travel abroad, the dichotomy between Western and Eastern European paradigms of conceptualism seems to be losing its rigidity and sharpness.

Kabakov and Monastyrsky belong to the ranks of the most influential figures in alternative Russian culture. Along with Komar and Melamid, they may be regarded as the founders of Russian conceptualism. If the Kabakovian paradigm of art as idea is based upon a metastasizing narrativity, then Monastyrsky hypostasizes conceptualism as discourse, as a theoretical enterprise. In the seventies and eighties Kabakov and Monastyrsky were chiefly responsible for the initiation into the alternative Muscovite artworld of a new generation of creatively engaged young people, a tight group of conceptual artists who announced themselves as the MANA (Moscow Archive of New Art) circle, or in a later transcription, NOMA. To designate the artists’ place in the history of Muscovite (neo)conceptualism, as well as that of the CA (1) performance group led by Monastyrsky, an excursion into the past is called for.

Group exhibition floorplan resembles a rabbit warren

Almost any group exhibition floorplan resembles a rabbit warren but entering the Temporary Contemporary one actually looked down on the display, over and into the cubicles and dividers separating artists’ work according to museological custom. Given this vista, an overview of the themes of “1965-1975: Reconsidering the Object of Art” was also possible: On Kawara’s magenta triptych mingled political and linguistic orders with the text “ONE THING / 1965 / VIET-NAM”; to the left, a wall of Bernd and Hilla Becher water towers stood for photographic and serial processes interrupting spontaneous markmaking; meanwhile, a gush of blown air from above, courtesy of Michael Asher, reminded you to keep alert to the often effaced management of institutional space which produced the scene in the first place. A neat and tidy packaging of conceptual art, so far.

However, it is debatable whether Asher’s piece signaled a blast of fresh, bad or hot air as a comment on Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer’s curating of the exhibition. His drafty, barely sensible presence at the vistapoint made me recall installation procedures of old. Photographs of early group exhibitions from the period covered show works in crowded, indiscriminate jumbles – canvases, pinned photographs and typed texts by different artists sharing wall space, mounds of string, junk and other things on the floor. Goldstein and Rorimer avoided those “things” (no example of what they call “materially defined” sculpture was included) and kept canvas to a minimum (Kawara, John Baldessari and Allen Ruppersberg excepted). As well, they put stress on bringing together short, distinct intervals from individuated oeuvres, so the show became a series of solo arrangements linked by a flow-through principle. With a roster of fifty-three individuals and two groupings (N.E. Thing Company and Art & Language), coordinating coverage according to such a principle is inevitably difficult and puts a definite premium on names and positions.

The curators met this with a casual approach to precedence and ranking, and an agenda to revise the membership while retaining the concurrence of the canonical conceptual art club. Cross this attempt to redo and revise with the implications of categorizing work as either/or linguistic, photographic and institutionally critical, and you have an exhibition that tries to achieve a lot by applying fairly conventional, officialized criteria. Each work bore an imaginable caption, as if this one were the architectural critique (Gordon Matta-Clark) while this other was the whimsical reconstruction using odd materials (Ed Ruscha’s Chocolate Room). You could say that while conceptualism rethought the art object, its curators saw little need to rethink the idea of the artist as equity.

Their strategy made some improvements on Claude Gintz’s unfocused and hardly revisionist “L’art conceptuel, une perspective” from 1989, even as it brought problems of emphasis. Bowing to recent interest in retrieving body arts, videos by Joan Jonas and Yvonne Rainer were exhibited, although this begged the question of the formative context of Fluxus, minimal art and other anti-conceptual performative and phenomenological pursuits in determining the body’s “artfulness.” As well, where was Chris Burden amid a decided local enthusiasm for Californian artists? True, such regard gave Bas Jan Ader and Eleanor Antin deserved attention, but Bruce Nauman suffered from the exclusion of sculpture and there was little reason to include William Leavitt’s California Patio. In general, European artists were ill-served by the sculptural restriction too, for the materials in arte povera and related activities crucially “reconsidered” and pointedly, by a jejune nomadism, “politicized” art. On the up side, the domesticated palms and colonial exoticism of Marcel Broodthaers’ Un jardin d’hiver held more “old world” irony in Los Angeles and one could tour the city (by car) and rarely seem far from one of Daniel Buren’s striped bus benches providing a condensation of the deeply disturbed civic ambiance.

Some fairly predictable entrants were extremely well-served, with a considerate selection of early Richard Long walks and much crisp, obviously reprinted, documentation of Vito Acconci “private” and institutional performances. The Dan Graham selection was limited to his publishing projects, to good effect, while Lawrence Weiner was the only artist permitted to roam the galleries – his signage showing up in several locations. Others, puzzlingly, were represented in almost slighting fashion: a single 1973 Sol LeWitt wall-drawing in a cramped alcove when his mid-sixties sculptural projects had immense significance for any turn to serial procedures; a trio of Stanley Brouwn drawings with no indication of the parameters of their production. Both these presentations mislead; so does Acconci’s remaking and forgetting that Long has continually made palpable sculpture and that Weiner used to act out some of his statements. (One might also ask why Graham’s Sadean Base Ball Piece got cut?)

I may have overstated the tidiness of this picture of conceptual art because there appeared to be little conflict over (or reconsideration of) artistic practice in the installation. Moving from gallery to gallery was like proceeding along a receiving line, meeting renowned figures and some lesser-known faces – all rather formal – and followed a paradigm wherein conceptualism fills the gap between minimalist installation and socially attuned interventions under the rubric “postmodernism.” All is to the good; liberal piety is satisfied and remains as intact as the art market that so skillfully, and with conceptualists’ participation, made the pieces of paper into objets de luxe. Approaching conceptual art from a concentration on those objects – faithfully repeating period rhetoric – may be an efficacious way to mount a show of this scale, yet it ultimately replaces the masterworks’ title with the artist’s proper name.

Luckily, Lucy Lippard qualifies this approach in her catalogue essay and, although admitting to an untrustworthy memory and centering on Manhattan, she does acknowledge political contention in the Art Workers Coalition as well as “certain (unprecedented) support for the feminist program” among male conceptual artists. Not only does this counter the predisposing of conceptualism as apolitical and masculinist, it encourages Lippard to discuss activist art which Goldstein and Rorimer mostly ignored. Coincidentally, up the hill at MOCA’s permanent site, several of the women artists Lippard mentions – Martha Rosler, Mary Kelly and Mierle Laderman Ukeles – were represented with period work in a touring exhibition called “Division of Labor.”

To suggest that conceptual art exhibitions should look like masterpiece shows, where Rubens rubs up against Van Dyke or Manet hangs with Bouguereau, may sound heretical, but the installation here dramatically proved the inadequacy of galleried isolation. One could conceive of the decade covered as the time when the avant-garde moved from the indiscriminate, multi-media group exhibition to personalized, cellular gallery divisions. Robert Smithson, in “Cultural Confinement,” asked whether “certain exhibitions have become metaphysical junkyards? Categorical miasmas? Intellectual rubbish?” His provocative categories are too harsh for this exhibition whose flaws stemmed from an uncritical address to a fundamentally critical art. The most salient example of thoughtlessness was the late announcement of the sponsorship of the exhibition by Philip Morris, noted cancer and Jesse Helms encouragers. In the protests that followed, Hans Haacke posted a statement by his infamous Shapolsky et. al. piece noting Philip Morris’ nefarious actions and arguing that to pull out would be to concede the curatorial function to the corporation. The day I visited, Adrian Piper requested that her room be cordoned off and proposed an alternate installation of photographs of her parents, both recently dead from respiratory diseases. At least the sequestered installation permitted this aggrieved resistance.

The Most Famous Canadian Comedians That Started In Sketch Comedy

Some of the most famous people in show business hail from the great country of Canada. This includes many entertainers who have made it big from Canadian comedy clubs to some of the biggest shows in sketch comedy in America. There are few comics that have launched to super-stardom the way these guys have:

Jim Carrey Blossomed on In Living Color
Although the show In Living Color was only around a few years, most people who remember the nineties remember the show. It was the only sketch show to rival the ratings of Saturday Night Live. This is where where Jim Carrey first demonstrated is wide-range of physical comedic skills, and he become a household name. The show launched him into several major movies that were major box office hits, such as Ace Ventura and The Mask. In terms of pure financial success, there aren’t any other Canadian comics that have been paid 20 million and more for one film.

Mike Myers Transitioned Nicely From SNL
Similar to Jim Carrey, Mike Myers was able to launch from SNL into major movie roles. The main difference, however, is that his major career launchpad was based off of a sketch from SNL–Wayne’s World. The movie was one of the largest grossing, comedic films of the nineties, and it sent Mike Myers and his co-start, Dana Carvey, into a whole new realm of fame. Mike Myers was able to accomplish what many American SNL alumni did and launch a big movie career based on sketch-like characters that you’d find on shows like SNL. His financial success is similar to Jim Carrey’s. Even though he hasn’t had the big, single movie paychecks, his overall net worth exceeds Carrey’s by about 25 million.

Dan Ackroyd was a Pioneer of Sketch Comedy Success
For someone who was very religious at a young age and considered the Priesthood as a career, Dan Ackroyd’s success in comedy may be an unlikely story. He was one of the pioneers of SNL as one of the original members of the cast when the show launched. Like Myers, he successfully used his characters from the show, particularly The Coneheads, to make a mega box office movie. Ackroyd has enjoyed a lot of success in and out of comedy, having been the member of an award winning blues band and being nominated for an Oscar in a serious movie role. He’s spent a lot of time as a supporting actor, but he’s also had a great deal of financial success.

There are a lot of other very successful Canadian comedians, many of which have had a lot of movie and financial success, but few have had the impact of the above-mentioned comics, especially when coming up from a career that started on a sketch-comedy show.

Native Indian Art Conveys A Story

Browse the beautiful Native Indian art world and you will find it replete with fascinating pieces of high quality, vivid colors, and authentic touches. But what many are surprised to find is that there are stories behind the art. Most art work is known for beauty or statement; the authentic artwork of Native Indians, however, will nearly always tell a story as well.

Mythologies
Much Native Indian artwork tells stories from mythology. From creation myths to the power of the wind, from women who become mountains to waterfalls representing tears or veils, the stories of the Native Indians show up in their artwork. Skywoman, in all her various forms coming from the mythologies of numerous tribes, is a popular choice in Native Indian artwork. From carvings of trees on turtles’ backs–representing the part of the story where Skywoman lives on a great turtle’s back before land is created for her–to beautiful paintings of Skywoman talking with the animals who helped her to survive, mythology-based artwork shows an interesting part of Native Indian stories.


Corn

The many fruit-depicting still-lifes that novice artists practice their craft on aren’t like still-lifes in Native Indian art, where the simplicity of corn can tell a story. Many Native Indian cultures have stories of corn coming to the people. Called “Indian Corn” or “Green Corn” or “Maize”, the corn in artwork represents the blessings of having struggled and prevailed in life. This idea comes from the story of Wunzh who fasted for seven days, and in his visions wrestled with another brave and prevailed. The brave told Wunzh to bury him and corn would grow from the ground that he was buried in. Corn can also represent Corn Goddesses who represent the fertility of the land and people.

Nationhood
Another popular theme in Native Indian art is the concept of Nationhood. Many people don’t understand that Native peoples are part of sovereign nations unto themselves. The art, however, shows this in vivid ways. Often, Native Indian art shows the strength of their past when they conquered others or prevailed against invaders. Or the art will depict a specific animal to represent the nation and the animal will be shown with specific native art techniques, showcasing the Nation’s individuality and purpose.
The art coming from Native Indian Nations today is an effort to combine the stories that make them who they are with modern sensibilities of who they can become. Current Native Indian art wants to throw off the shackles of prejudice and stereotype, and so often portrays simple humanity so that everyone can understand something more about themselves. For more information, speak to experts, like those at Cheryl’s Trading Post.