March 31, 2014

New art jargon: Overculture



From the press release for William Powhida's second solo show at Postmasters (pictured above):
Overculture 1:
(noun)
1.a small cultural group (artists) within the larger culture, often affirming the beliefs or interests of the ruling class (collectors).
"The two parties thus engage in an uneasy courtship around unspoken divisions and unacknowledged aspirations, where each seeks the perceived (and performed) freedoms of the other." -David Geers
(verb)

1. a negative or ambivalent feeling about culture often in relation to socio-economic conditions.

"If art comes from everywhere and everyone thinks differently, why does so much of what we see these days look the same?"
--Jerry Saltz

"We have a great big art world with a lot of stupid people in it. It's just about sales. We don't do negative reviews. We love everything. It's all mainstream. Look at what's out there. I don't think that's good, but that's the way it is."
--Dave Hickey, semi-retired art critic

Recognition of overculture is necessary to avoid misidentifying it as subculture (marked by resistance to ruling class values). Overculture and its capital may be identified as the cultural knowledge and commodities traded between members of the overculture, raising their status and helping differentiate themselves from the majority culture or resistant subcultures.

The sphere of the visual arts has increasingly become associated with overculture in a market-oriented ontology where price functions as the sign of absolute cultural value (Art) that subordinates all other relative cultural values (creative labor). The principle form of judgment in overculture is an expression of capital through the market. Price functions as a single variable for the success (or failure) for the participants in the exchange (artist to collector, seller to buyer, reporter to public).

"The danger here is less that this art promotes an illusory autonomy or cynically concedes to the market than that it reveals the discourse of art as now consisting of nothing but the market."
-- David Geers

Overculture poses significant challenges to the visual arts. It proposes that art no longer has any role in theoretically resisting the 'superior' values of the ruling class and market-orientation has turned it into a closed system of exchange between members that ceases to be relevant to the larger culture.

"Want to see a very big show of very bad art? Sure you do, to be up on present trends in bigness and badness...Gigantic in scale and pipsqueak in imagination, the show must be seen to be properly disbelieved. You'll want to talk about it."
--Anonymous Critic, New Yorker
In-case-you-were-wondering Department:
Because Powhida is primarily known for his pencil drawings of notebook pages, artists speculated that he hired a Chinese paint mill to make the paintings rather than painting them himself, but he told me that all the paintings were made in his studio. "No one individual made any painting except me," he said. "Whitney Kimball and Eric Trosko assisted on the hard edged grid, lines, and color comp."


"William Powhida: Overculture," Postmasters, Tribecca, New York, NY. Through April 19, 2014.

Related article:
Jerry Saltz on Stefan Simchowitz, the Greatest Art-Flipper of Them All
"They bring their skill set, honed on IPOs and flips, to make some fast money, draw attention, and gain social currency. Simchowitz admits it: 'The art world has become the new movie business — it's the new cool ... the de facto definer of social hierarchy in Los Angeles.' There’s a saying in the poker world that, if you don’t know who the sucker is at the table, it’s you. Any gallerist or editor who thinks that Simchowitz puts art first — or is anything more than an opportunistic speculator — is handing him money."

Related posts:
Don't kill Bill: Powhida at Charlie James in LA (2013)
#class demonstrated the unequivocal power of social media...but now what? (2010)

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1 comments:

overculture
I love this shit
brilliant

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