[For the next and, regrettably, last Duke-U-Menta (1997), 23rd Room asked me and a local historian to supply texts for a poster which was to serve as invitation and catalogue. The collective found my text unsuitable as an invitation and cut it from the poster. It was made available as a photocopy at the exhibition.]


Duke-U-Menta II


With all due respect to the historian across the page: History teaches us that everyone is already dead. And how are the dead remembered? They will never know. Our only hope as the pre-dead, the marginally living, is to risk pedantry and to speak (of course, I mean write) as clearly and precisely as possible. Only in this way might we escape our dependence on the crippled memories of others. Or we can just say fuck it and topple headlong into the grave, but I am not a nihilist. I have hope for a future when all the dead will return and populate the earth in all their grumpy and mutated forms. So to be stuck here and writing about visual art is something of a curse, but I am up to the challenge, for I have a theory. My theory is that visual art is the retarded cousin of writing, and the making of sculptures, installations, videos and whatever other little scribblings are offered up to us constitutes a debased form of authorship. Under this schema, Duke-u-menta is a little Kunsthalle of Pathology, each exhibit marking a micro-territory of wrong-headedness, unspecific neurosis and cultural vertigo, coupled in all cases with the inability to hold down a regular job. That is why we are so often forced to take solace in connoisseurship. Let me assure you whatever is not well-made is at the very least well-conceptualized! At best we can say that visual artists are rarely psychotic, for that is the realm of educators and chefs.

Sometimes you hear some stupid comment over and over again for many years until it becomes obvious the comment is actually referring to something else altogether. In bars and taverns, one such comment is that one does not buy draft, one merely rents it. I have heard this joke many times and each time it is exactly as funny as the first time I heard it, which is to say it is not very funny at all. Yet it demands a grunt of acknowledgment, particularly as it is often offered urinal to urinal, where civility must be adhered to without fail, yet a more obvious comradery is (usually) discouraged. I am here to tell you the truth behind that seemingly flip comment. The comment reveals the hidden social function of the tavern: to transform us into one giant drinking/urinating organism, diminishing all other physiological functioning, closing the faculties down one by one, squeezing all traces of thought and desire from our fraily mortal frames until all we can do is drink and piss, until drinking and pissing become part of the same cycle, indistinguishable acts with indistinguishable products: beer and piss. How appropriate then to hold an art exhibit in such an establishment! The individual may choose whether to drink after seeing the show or if they would be better off drinking before.