DYNAMITE IN ART FORUM
MARCH 26, 2006 6:38 PM

For those of you who don't know Ryan Thompson [aka warmest regards] and Matt Poole [aka regroup], they are part of, what seems to be, an ever evolving artist group called Dynamite Family[see: http://www.dynamitefamily.com].

While reading the new Art Forum I came across an article called Depth Perception by Mathew Stadler on Red76.

I found the article to be overly critical, but important, in that, many artist groups like Red76 and Dynamite have been popping up all around the world and evidence of their existense can be seen in the contemporary art world [and market?], yet there seems to be little dialogue around the idea of a conceptual artist group focused on the idea of community and human interactions.

The article concentrates on Portland, OR based artist group Red76. Stadler goes on to criticize "half-assed" and "uneducated" groups of artists who create/parttake in events with "no depth" that they intend to be art, specifically Ghosttown a series of events that took place in Portland, OR and NYC earlier this year. Some of the events he talks about are potlucks, movie festivals in people's homes, lecture series at laundromats, etc [sound familiar?].

"But Red76 or Learning to Love you More, 2002 - (the collaborative project of Harold Fletcher and Miranda July), or Dynamite (a broadly traveled live/work collective from Grand Rapids, Michigan) - artists who, with the exception of Fletcher, have little or no formal training - tend not to add depth but, instead, obsessively broaden their reach. Critics compensate by restoring depth to the image of the artist, enacting a shadow play of romantic heroism that concentrates meanings in the shell of these artists' sensibilities and inner lives, which are then targeted as sites of critique. This misreading is almost unavoidable wherever the task of art criticism is taken at all seriously - as it is here in this essay."

"The ascendancy of the horizontal - and note the absurd paradox of this formulation - is a turn that completely changes the possibilities and conduct of meaningful artistic practice. If we are witnessing the complete repudiation of depth or verticality as modes of making or interpreting art, this marks an important shift in art history, one with enormous political implications. Ghostown's indifference to struggle or the enactment of political and aesthetic depth suggests that this is, in fact, the new territory we are faced with."


I do seem to find something Romantic [yes, with a capital R] about groups like Dynamite and Red76 - the fact that everything is viewed as being so simple between people. Their projects tend to highlight the apolitical, idealized interactions between people, focusing or highlighting things that are "nice" or "ideal" or without worry. Being involved in or observing such projects evokes feelings reminiscent of watching a Woody Allen movie on a Sunday afternoon, while preparing to go to the record store to get the new Belle and Sebastian record and maybe some Thai food.

This autonomous nostalgic feeling radiating from these groups recalls certain aspects of Modernism that I found attractive, but uselss when thinking/talking about art history or aesthetics. To agree with Stadler, these groups and their projects really have no depth or aesthetic consideration [more so in retrospect due to critics of their 'work'], but is their intention to create an 'art object' or act within the art world?

Please feel free to comment and continue this dialogue with me. I have more to say, but I would like it to come out in some sort of conversation.

Comments (6)

GRAND RAPIDS --> CHICAGO
MARCH 15, 2006 3:42 PM

I found out on Monday that I have been accepted to the Masters of Arts Administration and Policy program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


I started looking at schools about 8 months ago, mostly urban design and planning programs. During this time I had quick read Making it on Their Own, and after reading it had many questions - so I emailed the editor, Brett Bloom. After a simple google search and conversations, I found out that he taught in the MAAAP program at SAIC. After researching the faculty, prior student thesis work and looking over the classes they had to offer, I felt that this was the only program I could really see myself studying in at this point.

After anxiously waiting, thinking the whole time I had no chance - i as accepted. More than likely, I will be leaving Grand Rapids this July - just for a little while.

Comments (9)


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