Another year, another jetset sun destination at the tail end of hurricane season,i and another wonderful excuse to travel from far and wide to meet up with fellow internet nerds to talk about art (and gossip about Sam). Welcome to Miami Art Week 2022: where the sand is soft, the bodies are hard, the parties are punctual,ii and consumerist-capitalism lives on as if it were immortal. And maybe it is!
Which is just to say that the logic of modern industrial capitalism is at the very least alive and well in the 305. For as long as there are parties all over town, art exhibits as large (and temporary) as possible, “must attend” events more numerous than ever, supporting infrastructure as broken as can be,iii and the art (ie. means of status distinction) evermore fragile,iv then we’re in business, baby.
In this sun-drenched world, the biggest flex is the most fleeting flex. The winner is he who denies durable physicality and whole-heartedly embraces the transience of all existence, no matter an object’s pretences to longevity. Thus comes the drive for goods that are ever cheaper (in the qualitative sense) yet ever more expensive (in the quantitative sense),v all so that the alpha can look death in the eye by denying the mere possibility of immortality, as he always has. Amor fati is sexy, cool, and priviledged, now as ever. Today it just feeds on art fairs (and fashions shows) instead of battlefields and gladiatorial arenas.
How did we get here? And where are we going from here? Well, we got here because the Boomers bought all the physical stuff anyone could possibly use in ten lifetimes (or the planet could possibly sustain in ten of its lifetimes), and they’re only too happy to pass their hand-me-downs to Millennials and Gen Zs, which frees up the younger generations to buy “experiences” and “digital assets.” But hey, maybe it’s more environmentally sustainable for us to spend all of society’s excess creative capital on indulgences like global travel, ultra-short-term art exhibitions, super-fragile JPEGs, and “concerns” du jour, but you have to admit that it can be a bit anxiety-inducing for the uninitiated. Now what if all the anxiety of our moment – both within Miamivi and more broadly – is a feature not a bug? I mean, it either motivates us to work harder, or it shuts us down and that’s one less mouth to feed, right?
Which brings us neatly to the sense of the moment that the esteemed Shumon Basar is calling “Endcore.” Shumon is very, very astute – almost certainly more astute than your humble author in most ways – but I think that I aspire to be a bit more positive than he does so I’m going to push back on his label and reframe it as “Andcore,” because we just keep adding more and more and more of everything, pushing our creative imaginations to their limits as we try to jam it all into our presumably fixed bandwidths in an increasingly time-constrained context. Of course Shumon and I are ultimately saying the same thing but we differ in our lenses and so too in our abilities to share our respective stories in our efforts to establish them as truths.
So what’s more powerful, dear reader, fear or love? What controls more nodes on the network? Who has the power to 51% attack the other? Let me make my pitch for love with the help of a poem from Peter Cole that’s relevant here,vii entitled “Vav: for Geoffrey Hartman, in memorium”
This upright letter bows its head
Ever so slightly out of humility
Much like Geoffrey
Toward the page
It’s fixed itself too
As though by a hook
Or being hooked
Really a summoning from within
If for him
To listen hard to what’s barely there
And maybe not quite yet
Between the lines
Taking a stand
And when to bend
So we come not to the end
But once again
Y’see it’s not that just that one grand Empire is decaying and dying, it’s that a thousand new Empires are sprouting forth and emerging. It’s not that one movie in the box office is the focal point of a new generation of young people, it’s that a million memes are. It’s not that the inverted demographic pyramid is leading to ossification in the West and China, it’s that the demographic winds of fortune now favour the geopolitical relevance of Africa and India. It’s that we receive by giving and we achieve great heights by searching for humility. It’s that contrast and tension create existence and meaning. Only when we empty our cups may we refill them anew.
In this light, the metaverse of the future might then rightfully be the world of the fragile, the world of the empty, the world in need of constant repair, where the vagabond is reified, the gypsy is glorified, in which we’re all rootless Wandering Jews, even those of us who are megalomaniacal performance artists. Maybe especially so.
So if you think our current world is fast and furious, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This is the artviii of our times: Andcore, the humbling of ourselves before the world; the emptying of our selves that the world may add, well, and.
- The weather app is psyops, btw. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s 1984-level of EMERGENCY WEATHER NOTICE always and everywhere now. My suggestion? Opt out! You can’t change the weather tomorrow no matter what the percent chance of suckage is, so just look out your window, look at the sky, watch the rustling of the trees, and figure out what the fuck to wear. Stop being such a little bitch. ↩
- It drives me fucking nuts but literally half the parties I went to shut down and pre-determined times even though the vibe was fabulous. Like what the fuck are the security and service staff unionised or am I missing some bizzare Floridian cultural cue? IT’S A FUCKING PARTY SO LET’S PARTY YO!!!1 ↩
- The traffic during Art Week Miami continues to be horrendous, which is why I bicycled everywhere all week! It was also consistently +25C and I was feeling energised at having left my home city (where it was -25C), but also cycling was the fastest, most cost-effective, and by far the most enjoyable way to get from A-to-B during the automobile clusterfuck that was Miami Art Week.
Of course “supporting infrastructure” can also refer to things like digital art displayz, which were no longer just confined to Tezos booths at Art Basel but now also to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Miami where Yuga Labs just donated Blonde Bob VR Cryptopunk #305 to the museum’s permanent collection, celebrating the occasion with a hopelessly small display of her next to a Warhol silkscreen portrait of another blonde woman.
(Rando normcore guy shown for scale). But even from the other side of the glass here you can see how washed out the “custom” screen settings were, how distracting the asymmetric shadows were, and how hilariously awful and self-righteous was the arbitrariness of Noah Davis’ “1 inch = 1 pixel” logic. Like, if this museum was in Europe, would it be 1 cm = 1 pixel? But it’s okay guys, because Davis “thought this through v carefully” trolololol.
Is it any wonder that Christie’s (under Noah’s direction), hung postage stamps of Punks at their big auction preview last year? ↩
- You thought porcelain was fragile? Ha! We still have porcelain from thousands and thousands of years ago – even if most of it is in fragments – whereas we retain only a small of fraction of the data encoded on floppy disks just a generation ago. Kevin McCoy really nailed this point in his panel discussion at NADA alongside Malcolm Levy, Makayla Bailey, and Eileen Isagon Skyers. ↩
- Which explains both Balenciaga’s and Richard Mille‘s unequivocal success. ↩
- Though again, if you’re not overbooking yourself and you’re bicycling from one event/fair/gallery/show to another, it’s really a very chill vibe!
- Forgive the formatting, it’s transcribed from his interview with the great Zohar Atkins. ↩
- To quote James Carse:
Art is dramatic, opening always forward, beginning something that cannot be finished. Because it is not conclusive, but engendering, culture has no established catalogue of acceptable activities.