Brain Pickings

Dear Art World: William Powhida’s Critique of Everything That’s Wrong with Contemporary Culture

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From Facebook to plutarchy, or what Mr. Softee has to do with the war on terror the 99 percent.

William Powhida is one of my favorite contemporary artists, but his latest gem seals him as one of today’s most compelling thinkers, too. Titled Dear Art World (Derivatives), it’s an unfiltered yet incredibly intelligent and articulate critique of today’s many sociocultural, economic, and political paradoxes, including the economy, slacktivism, remix culture, war, the Occupy movement and, of course, the art world.

For the copy-pasters and the search engine bots:

Dear Art World,

I feel you sitting there trying to process the CRAZY shit going on. I’ve been there for months, and it’s driving me INSANE. Fuck it, it seems counterproductive to EVEN talk about this shit, because EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS WHY “SHIT is REALLY FUCKED UP,” or why I’m wrong.

BUT, I’ve come to some conclusions about shit. One is that we spend A LOT of time BLAMING each other for not understanding WHAT the problem actually is — TRANSPARENCY, Barack Obama, mandates LOBBYISTS, immigrants, RESPONSIBILITY, FREEDOM Truth, LIZARD PEOPLE, FLUORIDE in the water… TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE OF ANY OF IT.

I mean, everyone ALREADY has the Answer, it’s just that every ELSE just has ‘it’ all wrong. It’s really simple, apparently, to fix everything by applying some JESUS™, REGULATION®, or CONSTITUTION™ to it. If only we’d just free the Market, convict some bankers, spiritually channel the Founding Fathers, regulate derivatives, STOP eating GM corn syrup, spend more…time with your Family OR LEGALIZE DRUGS.

EXCEPT WE don’t do shit*, because this is AMERICA, Land of the Mr. Softee® and home of the BRAVES® where we are FREE to ARGUE about the CAUSES of social and ECONOMIC inequalities until the grass-fed cows come home. We argue in comment threads, on Facebook™, and twitter™. AND, when we aren’t arguing, We agree with our favorite ‘experts’ on FOX®, CNBC™, and CNN™ as we slide into RECESSION 2.0.

One of the OBVIOUS conclusions I’ve arrived at is that a very FEW people LIKE it that way. WHILE SHIT is bad for MOST of us — 9%+ unemployment, $14 TRILLION+ debt, and a perpetual War on Terror® — *THEY* hope we’ll all just pull a lever next fall ‘PROBLEM SOLVED’ and argue some more about the INTENTIONS of the CLIMATE, BECAUSE the 1% is doing fine.

The only FACTS worth stating are that 20% of the population controls 85% of the net worth and earned 49.9% of the income last year. IN the AMERICAN SPIRIT™ of BLAME and recrimination I’m going to point the finger at…deREGULATED CAPITALISM®! IT is in the very spirit of Capitalism to ACQUIRE MORE CAPITAL. To quote @O_SattyCripnAzz, fellow citizen and member of #Team #1mmy [?], “Money is money no matter how u get it.”

Unfortunately, the same 1% also supports the rest of us by BYING shit and funding almost everything else (museums, residencies, grants…) putting some of us in an awkward position (YOU TOO NATO and Pedro), BUT that doesn’t mean we should SHUT THE FUCK UP, take their MONEY, and say ‘Thank you!’ The Art World is NOT separate from SOCIETY and THIS is how SHIT gets all FUCKED UP — PLUTARCHY, motherfuckers.

So, in my useless capacity as a tool artist, I’ve made some pictures about this SHIT that are FREE to look at**, and they’re ALL DERIVATIVES.

Sincerely,

[signed William Powhida]

*#OWS?
** Bring a chair

The work was part of Derivatives, Powhida’s solo show at Postmasters Gallery, which ran through November 26. Also from the show:

For more on the implicit and enduring tensions of art in the age of commerce, see BBC’s excellent documentary, The Mona Lisa Curse.

HT this isn’t happiness; images courtesy of William Powhida / Postmasters Gallery

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