“In modern times, cinema became the tenth muse. Why? Because it’s nourishing itself from literature, from architecture, music, philosophy… What that means is that even if you don’t know it, you have to deal with those elements. New technology brought to us the consciousness of making images. Today you have any still camera, any video camera, you push a button, things happen automatically. Today film students don’t know anymore how to realize an image. At the beginning, the so-called photographers had to practice, they had to study how to do it. The same thing was for cinematography. You grow up in learning how it’s possible to use a piece of mechanic and some chemistry to turn an idea into a realized image. Today, nobody knows. You don’t need to know. You push a button and get an image.”
Can one identify the intellectual tools that made progress possible? I think so. The first is a belief in “discovery”, in the very possibility of intellectual progress. There was no such belief, there were not even words meaning “discovery” and “progress”, before the discovery of America which shattered the long-established conviction that there was no important new knowledge to be had. Moreover the discovery of the New World was the achievement of semi-educated sailors — it brought about a new cooperation between intellectuals and practical men, a cooperation particularly fostered by the mathematicians who taught the skills of navigation and cartography and who had long believed in the importance of useful knowledge.
“By the numbers, museums have become thriving enterprises, competing and ballooning into what we might call a museum industrial complex. Today there are 3,500 art museums in the United States, more than half of them founded after 1970, and 17,000 museums of all types in total, including science museums, children’s museums, and historical houses. Attendance at art museums is booming, rising from 22 million a year in 1962 to over 100 million in 2000. At the same time, and hand in hand with these numbers, billions of dollars have been spent on projects that have largely focused on expanding the social-service offerings at these institutions—restaurants, auditoriums, educational divisions, event spaces—rather than additional rooms for collections. At the present rate, the museum of the future will virtually be a museum without objects, as new non-collection spaces dwarf exhibition halls with the promise that no direct contact with the past will disturb your meal. As London’s Victoria and Albert Museum once advertised, the museum of the future will finally be a café with ‘art on the side’.”
Jonathan Foreman: “If you have had much to do with liberal intelligentsia in the U.S., they like to think they are above their own country, and they often have contempt for their compatriots, and they think they’re better. They think that being super-critical of the United States exempts them. When they talk about Americans, they don’t think they’re talking about themselves. They’re the same people who are always vowing if Bush wins the election, they’re moving to Italy. They never move to Italy.”
Sarah Boxer: “There are great women artists. They are not only ‘as good as the men,’ as male critics used to say in the 1950s; some of them have altered the very terms of art, going where no man has gone before. To see what I mean, let’s walk through two starkly different all-women exhibitions.” (Oh, and by the way, “Women sculptors are funnier than men sculptors.”)
Is this “woman artist” stuff a good thing? (Was Jackson Pollock a “man artist”?) Elaine de Kooning once recalled a party where she and another painter, Joan Mitchell, were asked, “What do you women artists think … ?” Mitchell interrupted, “Elaine, let’s get the hell out of here.” That pretty much sums up some people’s feelings about all-women exhibitions. Let’s blow this ghetto! We can’t win here.
She clings to the possibility that dance is a universal language, one that can transcend race, sex, class, and even time. She is fond of a story of Fred Astaire begging Michael Jackson to teach him to moonwalk, musing that “a great dancer has no time, no generation, he moves eternally through the world, so that any dancer in any age may recognize him.”
“It was bad enough when our capacity to produce and read great stories collapsed. Now it seems we’ve turned around and loved magazine writing to death.”