from mike kelly minor histories:



The Artist clarifies his environmental goals: I want to present an atmosphere—an ambience—which is so peaceful and so beautiful that you’re shattered when you leave. My feeling is that the only way you can make things better is by showing how good things can be.
I like to work in a way that people mis-see. I like people to mis-see. I like puns. I like them to mis-hear. I think Arthur Koestler said something about mistakes being the route to creativity. I notice that in myself. I make a mistake—I mis-see or I mis-hear—and it’s much more creative than had I understood it correctly. If I can possibly provoke an instance for people where that can happen spontaneously, I want it to happen.

For a recent show (1980), “A Lot of Little Paintings,” Thek turned down the gallery lights, spotlit an extravagant orchid plant ringed by delicate gilt chairs, attached goose-necked museum lamps to the paintings, and stuck punch-tape labels on sham gold frames. The effect was as glamorously artificial as Marlene Dietrich’s platinum Afro in Blonde Venus, and almost as outrageous. But it was also a delicately sensual reminder that paintings do not have to be lit as if they are about to be combed for microbes; that they unfold by degrees rather than in the white light of an instant. As is usual with Thek, the message was a massage—at once invulnerably assured and naturally humble.

The Artist elaborates on his exhibition strategy and the limitations of self-evaluation: I wanted the room to look good for people. I was tired of going into galleries and feeling like I was in a lineup. They’re all so brightly lit and there’s no place to sit down, and the gallery people are all peering through their windows—what a hostile environment. So it seemed the first thing to do was to humanize the environment; then you can look at a work of art. And, of course, you do that by turning down the lights, giving people some chairs to sit on, and not having the art restricted in any way.

The Artist declares his preferences and prejudices: My favorite art is regional art. One of the things that drives me crazy is the “international style”; I find that so boring. I’d hate going to Sicily and finding the local kids doing stuff out of Nancy Hoffman or Pace. What’s happening in America now is just a lot of slapdash, tomfoolery chic. Just because, traditionally speaking, an artist is frequently the contemplative, removed from the world and devoting himself to an idealized and perfected image, doesn’t mean that art can’t be very much from the world as well. So, I believe in regional art. You do what has to be done when you’re there.


"Dumpster diving" generally refers to the practice of anti-consumer and freegan activists who reclaim items such as food and clothes from the waste stream as a form of protest against consumer culture. “Waste picking” generally refers to activity motivated purely by economic need.

The mechanisms of the gin

Ian Abbot

Sixteen teeth, set
in a lurid, iron smile.
Chained to the earth, anchored
into black soil, nonetheless
its everyday, simple grin sustains itself.

Its mouth spills feathers.
White bones tumble from it
one upon another: numberless
but laid like runes across the ground.
The great jaw of the badger, skull of the grouse,
an endless filigree of weasels. Yearly
it raises cairns that honour
no more than its own eternal memory.

You tend it with utmost care. Intimately prime as your father did
its double jagged sickles and its tight-sprung mouth, arrange
its hidden ribbon of links. Then turn for home, moving
heavily downward into sleep.
Only to dream of iron laughter shouting in the wood
and the spare, insatiable gaze
that will see your own flesh folded in the earth
and then will sit back patient, waiting;
grinning till the wandered, bone-white stars begin to fall.


"You would be hard-pressed to come up with a more New Labour idea if you tried: industrial decline and class conflict solved by turning the entire country into Islington."

"The temptation to conclude that art is useless a mode of critique in a post-Fordist 'creative economy' is strong, but must be resisted."

an old one but a good one 

"These artworks see capital with the eye of a luxury consumer. They refuse to acknowledge necessity under capitalism. “Capitalism” for them is a bad choice, not something that you’re is compelled to reproduce because you’re hungry. It complains about capitalism just as it might about a scratched DVD being delivered from Amazon, only to cling to the scratch because at least it proves the thesis, just as the consumer clings to evidence in order to validate an insurance claim. But just like all insurance, all that is secured is the continuance of the present state of things."

thanks n.p





The constellation of cultural tropes that most paradigmatically manifest in the form of the cupcake are associated in particular with infantilization. Of course, looking back to a perfect past that never existed is nothing if not the pained howl of a child who never wanted to be forced to grow up, and the cupcake and its associates market themselves by catering to these never-never-land adults’ tastes. These products, which treat their audience as children, and more specifically the children of the middle classes — perfect and special, full of wide-eyed wonder and possibility — succeed as expressions of a desire on behalf of consumers to always and forever be children, by telling consumers not only that this is OK, but also that it is, to a real degree, possible.


“Keep Calm and Carry On”

Something became clear to me in the aftermath of the London riots in 2011, when I saw thousands of people take to the streets with brooms at the instigation of a twitter hashtag (#riotcleanup), and “clean up” the effects of the anger of the rioters, which was already in the process of being dismissed and demonized in the media as opportunistic looting long before the police would find a way to have their murder of Mark Duggan legally declared as its opposite. This realization was that if you wanted to found a fascist reich in Britain today, you could never do so on the basis of any sort of ideology of racial superiority or militaristic imagery or anything of the like. Fascism is, if nothing else, necessarily majoritarian, and nowadays racism is very niche-appeal (just look at how laughable every EDL march is, where the anti-fascists outnumber the alleged fascists by a ratio of more than two to one). But you could get a huge mass of people to participate in a reactionary endeavor if you dressed it up in nice, twee, cupcakey imagery, and persuaded everyone that the brutality of your ideology was in fact a form of niceness. If a fascist reich was to be established anywhere today, I believe it would necessarily have to exchange iron eagles for fluffy kittens, swap jackboots for Converse, and the epic drama of Wagnerian horns for mumbled ditties on ukuleles.
Fascism is, properly understood, a certain sort of response to a crisis. It is the reactionary response, as opposed to the radical one. The radical response is to embrace the new possibilities thrown up by the crisis; the reactionary one is to shut these possibilities down. In bourgeois society, thus, fascism will always mean the assertion of middle-class values in the face of a crisis. Because this assertion must mean shutting certain other emerging sets of possibilities down, it will always involve a sort of violence, although this violence can of course be merely passive-aggressive.
The 2011 riots were a sort of response to the present global financial crisis, and one more radical than reactionary. They were directionless, yes, but they were the product of a summer of simmering tension produced by the austerity measures the government had imposed as its own reactionary response to the financial crisis, which threatened and still threatens to eliminate the futures of every young person in Britain, especially those from poorer backgrounds — the majority of the rioters. Against the possibilities thrown up by the riots (if nothing else, the possibility of expressing real anger), the participants in #riotcleanup passive-aggressively asserted the very same middle-class values that informed the imposition of austerity.
There is no better expression of all this than in the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On,” which of course adorns everything cupcakey (“Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake” is almost as prevalent a poster as its ur-meme original). The association is a profound one on many levels. The “Keep Calm” poster was originally designed as a propaganda poster during WW2. It plays on similar appeals to vintage nostalgia that the notion of “having a cupcake” does. It appeals to an idealized past that was never experienced by the longer-afterer. It is also a past that never could have been experienced, since the “Keep Calm” poster was never actually used. It was rediscovered in 2000 and was quickly found to have a vast appeal based largely on how much the slogan cohered with an idealized image of the 1940s. In fact, the poster had never been used because it was considered by those who saw it at the time to be patronizing.


All the way to massive, blockbuster instances of the phenomenon such as the recent Coca-Cola #ReasonsToBelieve campaign which was full of such obviously insidious expressions of cupcakey positivity as “For every tank being built . . . there are thousands of cakes being baked,” and “for every red card given . . . there are 12 celebratory hugs.” The advert also features a scene in which a man high fives a cat.
cheers reece: