Friday, October 3, 2008


video via The Art Enthusiast

text via Coagula

The artist collective “Finishing School” has taken up a residency at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (L.A. MOCA). What that means is that MOCA is too ossified and insular to know what the fuck is going on and finally realize that simply asking Paul McCarthy and Chris Burden for new ways to stroke Paul Schimmel’s ego by adding their friends, lovers and former students to the permanent collection isn’t getting the museum anywhere. If the piece of rat shit that is the Martin Kippenberger retrospective currently on view at their Grand Avenue building is any indicator, old curator Anne Goldstein is even more out of touch with anything that has a pulse in regards to art.

So to happily mix metaphors, the new blood is a breath of fresh air at the cathedral of those old farts. Finishing School’s first project was entitled EXECUTIVE ORDER. The piece was to stage a participatory event outside in MOCA’s sculpture plaza. They set up a karaoke machine with familiar songs (Like a Virgin, I Will Survive) and had people sign up to sing on stage, where behind them was projected images of George W. Bush. The participants were then to sing along to the familiar tunes, but the “lyrics” were word-for-word Executive Orders of the Bush Administration. From topics as diverse as terrorism to Trout preservation, the participants tried to articulate the bureaucratic machinations of power in familiar melodies, to absolutely comical, pointed results. The members of the Finishing School Collective were dressed as referees and happily judged the efforts by the participating gallery-goers.

Art is charged to engage the public, the world is begging for meaningful political art that does not pander, preach or submit to illustrate the whims of a manipulative force. Art that is not fun is inevitably going to be ignored. Finishing School has solved so many problems embedded in contemporary art with one great night out on the town. It was absolutely shocking that MOCA would have such an event, vitality and current-ness being the last thing on the aging pink whale’s mind. ON a night with the political debates and a Dodger playoff game, a huge crowd turned out to enjoy art that involved, critiqued, satirized and hit home. It seemed so simple, but it took 22 years of boring MOCA shows to arrive at the point where the light bulb finally went off over someone’s head that nobody was buying the bullshit printed on the stupid wall labels rationalizing the egomania and insider status of assholes like Kippenberger as worthy of examination by the art audience.

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