Contributed by Matthew Weinstein / I really hope people get to see Chris Moss‘s show at Theodore:Art in Bushwick. I own a painting of his, and I love it. It makes me laugh. It’s hanging by my front door. It’s a crazy little square face; a sort of impasto emoji that signifies nothing. It’s like a mirror of how ridiculous I am that I see every day as I leave my apartment. Chris’s new pieces, based on Peanuts cartoons, are equally teasing.
Most of the art that is supposed to be funny now isn’t. It mostly consists of gigantic cynical gestures placed into a gigantic cynical reality. Right now I think it’s more difficult to make someone smile than it is to make someone nod in disgust or weep. That is, for people who don’t smile at stupidity.
Chris’s show is one of those art gifts where you go, and you laugh, and you wonder what this person does all day. He dignifies one of the most neglected and snobbishly overlooked threads of American culture: The Cartoon. He makes cartoons of cartoons by adding abstraction. So he brings children’s cartoons into an adult world by eliminating the messages and narratives, but keeping the innate surreality of cartooning.
My dread is that art now is going to exhibit a sense of responsibility to this tragic moment, which is actually one of the most irresponsible ways to think about art. It’s as bad as cynicism and bad jokes. If you have to try to respond to this moment, you already don’t get it. If you think people need your tears and/or cynicism you should enter the world of daytime TV drama.
Chris isn’t making jokes. He’s making jokes not funny; like witty ghosts who disappear before the punchline. He’s making art that expands into existential paradox, much like Richard Prince’s unfunny jokes (for me, his best work) that have a broader, more melancholy and absurdist humor.
Funny art is not interesting to me now. It seems on the side of the victor. Things aren’t funny now. I don’t relate. I’m not sheltered enough. Not funny art that ruminates on ‘the funny’ and runs from the tragic is of interest to me. It seems to suggest how to survive with dignity.
Great show, Chris. Everyone should go see it if they can.
“Christopher Moss: Pfft,” Theodore:Art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Through January 28, 2017.
Note: On Saturday, January 28, Theodore:Art is hosting Ginger IRL, a series of performances and readings by Martha Wilson, Gracie Bialecki, Andy Monk and others throughout the course of the day.
3-5 pm / Activism Teach-in: Discuss the inauguration weekend protests, connect and share ideas about resistance.
5-7 pm / Resource Skillshare: Briefly share what kind of work you make and tools that help you accomplish it, whether that’s technical resources, materials, funding sources, etc.
7-8:30 pm / Panel: Friendship, Social Activism, and Creative Practice. Orit Gat, Jessica Lynne (Recess, ARTS.BLACK), Rebecca Jampol (Solo(s) Project House, Gateway Project Spaces), and Jasmine Wahi (Gateway Project Spaces, Project for Empty Space) will discuss how social groups impact artistic and activist practice, production, and exhibition.
About the author: Matthew Weinstein is a visual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He makes 3D computer animations and assists in the creation of non-narrative animated cabarets, which are aimed at the technical and narrative concerns of the art world. Weinstein contributes regularly to ARTnews and other publications. This post originally appeared on his Facebook page.
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