Social Practice: What’s at Stake?

This conversation between Randall Szott and Sal Randolph began in the wake of Open Engagement, an annual conference on art and social practice held in Portland, Oregon in May of 2012 and is published as part of a series of conversations on social practice, criticism and the professionalization of art that took place between Randall Szott and a group of artists, organizers and collaborators over the course of several years.

Randall Szott conducts mystic experiments in divination (writing), conjuration (design), evocation (aesthetics), transmutation (cooking), illusion (philosophy), and enchantment (regenerative agriculture) in a small grey house in a small Vermont town. He was a merchant mariner for nearly a decade and now is the Chef and Farm to School Coordinator for a tiny village school. Szott is currently developing a ten acre parcel of land into a functioning agroecological system and as a possible site for ongoing seminars in #soilpractice + #socialpractice.

Sal Randolph is an artist who lives in Brooklyn and works between language and action.  Her projects have been seen recently at Raygun Projects in Toowoomba, Australia, at the Moore College Galleries in Philadelphia, and in the pages of Cabinet Magazine. New language work is in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Pith, Otolith and on Twitter.

Randall: So I feel like we need a pourquoi story for this conversation. Right now I’m on a boat at the mouth of the Mississippi River, without cellphone service and you, well I’m pretty sure you’re in New York City. We last saw each other five days ago in Portland, Oregon. We were there for each other, well not for each other specifically, although we sort of were. As I imagine it, in this retelling we were there for an experience of connection.

We’ve met in person before. I wanted to see the occupation of Zuccotti Park firsthand, and I wanted to meet you in person for the first time. We have “met” before, you even interviewed me and yet…

It seems to me there was something lingering, something that needed to be tested in experience, a felt need as John Dewey says, that led us to meet in person. We could’ve just continued along exchanging emails, or commenting on some blog, but it seemed like something more…dare I say it? …real needed to transpire. Whatever that is might clue us in on this question you’ve raised.

Where was I going with all this? Oh yes, I am trying to explain this conversation, why it is happening.

So when you left Portland. I had already employed something you explained to me as the “french leave.” I left to catch a redeye flight across the country and in that time of solitude I began to process the conference, to send out those friend requests, to write my follow-ups, my thank yous. I wrote to tell you once again how happy I was to have had time together. Conference panels always seem to pale in comparison to the stuff on the margins, the dinners, the drinks, the conversation. Open Engagement is no different in that regard, and yet maybe there is some difference, something that we are now trying to address. And so this very long story of why, this introduction, that sheds almost no light might start us exploring your simple question to me in your email reply — Social Practice, What’s at Stake?

Sal: Here’s me, today: Memorial day, I’m in the studio, boxes littering the floor from a move and reorganization I can’t quite finish.  It’s 90 degrees, and the window is open letting in the sounds of a basketball game across the street. Cars go by. Distant voices, bird sounds, the tiptap of the basketball hitting the asphalt. Beep of a car horn.  I’m spending my afternoon trying to translate the sounds outside the window into a kind of score for voices, an alphabet code that could be sung or spoken (think Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate meets field recordings). 

I’m thinking about this question of what’s at stake.  Could we translate it as “what do we think is worth arguing about? worth going to the mat for?”  In the new ecology of both social practice and the current art world(s) the question of art and nonart is no longer worth arguing about. Everything intermingles. “Projects” which don’t define themselves in those terms abound. As do practitioners and producers.  But I feel an uneasy sense that there’s a layer of general good will and inclusiveness that covers up real questions and differences that are, indeed, worth arguing about.

Randall: Your message finds me with the sun rising over the Gulf of Mexico. I wish I could say it is beautiful, but it is mostly lonely. This is where the great deluge of agribusiness waste begins its toxic bloom, the start of the nearly 9k sq. mile dead zone. There is an eerie lack of seagulls here although porpoises can be seen rolling in the waves from time to time. The drone of the diesel stacks is constant as is the shipping traffic. The crew of those global trade vessels and the very occasional sport fisherman are about the only folks to ever see this part of the world.

Funnily, not only are our physical locations so different, so are our opening points of view. I still don’t buy the idea that “everything intermingles.” I see an art world that pays lip service to this, but in practice, the old habits are fully entrenched. How else does one explain the Hammer Museum “acquiring” a ping pong table from Mark Allen (as revealed at a panel at the Open Engagement conference)? Most folks don’t “acquire” a ping pong table from an artist, they “buy” one from Walmart. Sure, there are people leaving the art world and leaving the language of exhibitions, projects, work, studios, etc. behind, but the art/nonart conversation is alive and well. Although I do agree it is certainly not worth arguing about.

I guess that leads me to my second objection. I’m not sure I want the idea of something “worth arguing about” to define the notion of having something at stake. As we discussed briefly about Shannon Jackson’s talk at the Open Engagement conference, I really find the glorification of antagonism misguided. I think it fits too neatly into a romantic self-image of the artist as avant-garde soothsayer. I believe there is something at stake in love, in the good will and inclusiveness you are lamenting. In fact, I find much more at stake in that than in some angry jeremiad against global capitalism. Although for me to be complaining about jeremiads is a real kettle calling black sort of moment! I am interested in the latter half of your proposed translation — “worth going to the mat for” — and I think that as MFSB might say, love is the message…

Sal: What I meant by “everything intermingles” is that projects which do not define themselves as art now abound in museum spaces.  I was just at the ICA in Philadelphia with a show “First Among Equals.” One of the curators walked me through the exhibition making a point of noting which participants & collectives didn’t see themselves as artists and had to wrestle with being part of a show. One of my favorite long running internet spaces,, was at PS1; this year’s Documenta had as many anthropologists, writers, and social activists as it had artists.  It’s become common to see “nonart” of all kinds in the biggest art shows.

Flipping it around, at Open Engagement we saw countless projects by artists working with the public or in public spaces, adapting to those contexts in ways that often made the art-content invisible or irrelevant. The art worlds I tend to be a part of operate in this way all the time.

I agree that acquiring a ping pong table as a social artwork is pretty funny. But not funnier than Felix Gonzales-Torres hijacking collectors into buying mounds of candy and giving it away.

By “worth arguing about” I don’t mean the antagonistic “style” that favored in some art worlds and not others (Shannon Jackson really nailed this one).  I don’t mean shouting, though I suppose it could come to that.  But I pretty much never read an interesting book without arguing with it in my head — it’s one of the ways I know I’m interested. Sometimes the book’s argument gradually wins me over, sometimes I end up very critical.  Either way, when it works it’s a passionate engagement.  That, to me, is where the fun is.

Randall: I’m going to resist my old habits and not take the intermingle vs. co-opt route.

Instead, I’d like to understand what it means to argue with a text/project/person/practice. The strange thing to me is, those who know us would probably assume that I would be the one in favor of arguing and you would be the one hesitant about it. I wonder if this relates to an idea of criticism as a sort of dismantling, or struggle — despite my best efforts I fail miserably at avoiding this kind of criticism. I really want to live up to Carl Wilson’s propositions:

“What would criticism be like if it were not foremost trying to persuade people to find the same things great…It might…offer something more like a tour of an aesthetic experience, a travelogue, a memoir.”


“…a more pluralistic criticism might put less stock in defending its choices and more in depicting its enjoyment, with all the messiness and private soul tremors – to show what it is like for me to like it, and invite you to compare.” 

I’m likely completely misinterpreting you.

I think your last lines are really where we agree. I am more interested in fun than academic throwdowns. And I honestly have to say that it is hard to believe that shock tactics or intellectual argumentation accomplish much politically. To me, play, fun, and pleasure are more democratic sensibilities than the antagonism that so-called political/activist artists and critics like to champion. I mean by this, that they are too limiting and privilege (surprise, surprise since most of those folks are products of academia) the intellect, a tiny sliver, of the vast range of human experience. Or as Gregory Pappas puts it “…political theorists [or critics, curators, artists] must avoid the intellectualist temptation that has plagued the history of philosophy: the reduction of experience to the cognitive realm…How we experience each other in our everyday local and direct interactions is something more inclusive than how we talk and inquire together.” I marvel at how uncomfortable it makes the smarty pants set to deal with projects that are too “nice.” Or that aren’t “critical.”

I think that it is precisely the “open” of Open Engagement that seems to make some squirm. MFA programs or Curatorial Studies programs tend to  favor talking/writing over listening/researching. I mean research is fine, as long as it produces something, as long as it is used as support for an argumentative position. And the ambiguity, awkwardness, and/or inarticulate fumbling that sometimes happens with these projects drives hard-hearted academics nuts. The whole point is to critique, deconstruct, attack, reveal, investigate damn it! Not to embrace, consider, smile, bond, or agree!

As an aside, I wonder if when we (not just you and I, but many others) were expressing various disappointments with the conference panels, we weren’t taking a broad enough view. Were we considering the conference itself enough? I think it would be hard to argue that as a “project” it failed to deliver engagement…

Finally, although I am fine with the “open.” I think you might have really hit on something with the phrase “passionate engagement.” What would a Passionate Engagement conference look like? Would the stakes be higher?

Sal: Sure, I’ll give you co-option. But that assumes that the movement into the (singular) art world only goes one way, as politically (or otherwise) potent social practices are brought into the museum/gallery/biennial circuit and their very resistance exploited by the familiar machineries of class and capital.  This of course happens. (Andrea Fraser had a quite keenly thought through essay in the recent Whitney Biennial on how this plays out for artists; Boris Groys has also taken it up in Art Power.) But to stop there is to miss the way that contemporary social art and social practice has been enormously influenced by artists and critics whose work lies at the center of that world (from Joseph Beuys, John Cage and Allan Kaprow to Rikrit Tiravanija, Ben Kinmont and Tino Sehgal, from all the heavy hitters of critical theory to Nicolas Bourriaud and Claire Bishop, (and now Shannon Jackson, plus what must be another dozen other critics with books just going to press in time to influence the next batch of social practice MFAs). Social practice draws its inspiration from the the worlds beyond art, but it still derives much of its raison d’être from the discourse and practice of art proper.

But, back to arguing about arguing (which I love).  One of the reasons I enjoy the company of academics is precisely because they’re not afraid to argue, and not so worried about doing harm during the course of tussling about ideas. That is my idea of fun.

Essentially, I believe I feel as pluralistic as you do about art — let a thousand practices bloom.  To use your metaphor of cooking, I wouldn’t expect my affection for Indian curries to “win” over your love of farm-to-table American classics.  And for that matter, I can, and do, love both myself.  And many more.  But that doesn’t mean I think there’s nothing at stake in how we eat, and what and why — to me there’s plenty to argue about.  It goes beyond mere intellect into questions of politics, aesthetics, sociality, and what makes life worth living.

I do like the idea of a “Passionate Engagement” conference, but it’s not the “open” in  Open Engagement that’s the problem (in fact, I’d probably argue for a much more radical form of openness).  “Open” doesn’t equate with “nice.”  To me “open” is actually a critically active place, the way public space can be.  It is the empty stage where play and argument take place. The open is where it happens.  But what exactly, do we want to have happen there?

Which brings me back to the question of what is at stake.  Why does it matter if we have one kind of social practice or many? Whether we find some work engages us passionately and other work leaves us tepid? What does it mean to say these things aren’t worth arguing about?

Randall: I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned the word “co-opt” as it likely implies some kind of purist position on my part and also probably makes it look like I have more of an investment in the issue than I do. Or to say it more like a bumper sticker — “Obviously I’ve been mistaken for someone who gives a shit.”

And again I will resist my old urges to tackle some of those folks you mention, the ones with the big words masking small ideas… I realize that in disavowing them, I’m still indulging my worst instincts. And of course this sort of encapsulates my messy relationship with art.

I wrote the two paragraphs above 20 days ago and it has been 25 days since you last wrote me. I had plenty of time to think about the issues you’ve raised, and perhaps most importantly, time to not think about them. I guess I’m coming to see that the not-thinking is my most compelling point of view. You ask why social practice matters if it isn’t worth arguing about, and I want to ask why it matters if it isn’t worth experiencing.

During my time away from this conversation, I co-managed 30 plus kids for my son’s seventh birthday party; had several lakeside picnics — including one for breakfast on Father’s Day; I went to a pre-Father’s Day outdoor dance party with margaritas in the blazing sun, kids everywhere, pop music blasting, live mic sing alongs, after a dinner break the setting sun led to firefly chasing, which led to bedtime for the kids and the adults stayed up late into the night drinking around the fire, stargazing and telling stories of wild animals, the Northern Lights and getting old amid cigar smoke and satellites passing overhead;  I visited small towns built along rivers, made a pass through the Green Mountains and did a little butterfly chasing by a roadside waterfall; just before returning to the boat I attended my sister in-law’s 50th birthday party at a 19th century hilltop farm comprised of 154 acres.

That party, with its local band playing covers under a tent with paper lamps; with dear friends gathered from around the country; with kids chasing guinea hens and playing some indecipherable version of tag; of free-flowing wine and watermelon mojitos; of family squabbles barely hidden beneath the surface; the smell of pigs and the final calls of redwing blackbirds at dusk; of mothers dancing with their sons; that party in which kids devoured cupcakes and marched down the hill to a twenty kid sleepover, that party was the key…

There was nothing to “argue” about, but it was urgent and beautiful. As I was eating my care package alone (my son did not want to participate in the sleepover so I put him to bed at my in-laws), savoring this thoughtful gesture of grilled chicken and feta orzo salad on a translucent blue plastic plate, I realized that social practice, in walking the age old art/life line, needed to drink a little more, to fall off that line, to tumble out of art and into life.

When Allan Kaprow died, I really felt a loss, but a loss in only the way a stranger can. I never knew him personally and my interest in him was never in his art. In fact, I hate happenings, much like I hate most social practice projects. I loved Kaprow’s constant attempt to escape his happenings, his struggle to move from artist to unartist. I identified with his apparent envy of non-artists (this is complicated, but there is a way in which art intensifies access to experience, but also creates a barrier of intellectual abstraction). I believe in the latter years Kaprow became more of a mystic, although I hear he was a bit of a crank as well (sounds familiar!). When he died, I posted this quote from Jeff Kelly’s introduction to Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life:

Sensing the obsolescence of his newly invented art form [happenings] as early as 1961, Kaprow wrote: ‘Some of us will probably become famous. It will be an ironic fame fashioned largely by those who have never seen our work.’ He was right. Happenings soon became a species of mythology, the subject of rumor or gossip. Hoping to prolong his experiment into the meanings of everyday life, Kaprow reconciled himself to letting go of the avant-garde genre he’d become identified with, confessing: ‘I shouldn’t really mind, for as the new myth grows on its own, without reference to anything in particular, that artist may achieve a beautiful privacy, famed for something purely imaginary while free to explore something nobody will notice.’ Indeed, as the century draws to a close, one still hears the question, ‘What ever happened to Allan Kaprow?’ Life has happened to Allan Kaprow, his life, ‘something nobody will notice,’ and it has happened to him as the subject matter of his practice as an artist.

While finishing that grilled chicken from the party, I thought of our conversation and how it had lapsed. I thought about why it was stalled…what had happened? Life happened. That I guess is my impossible standard for social practice — for it to achieve “beautiful privacy” for it to become “something nobody will notice.”

Sal: I’m so tempted to stop there, to let life have the last word.  And beautiful privacy. But its been weeks, and I’m still arguing with you in my head. Please forgive, in advance, the ridiculous length of this as a side effect of slowing down our back and forth.

So. Here are a couple of things that have happened to me since I last wrote:

One June afternoon I walked out of a bright day, through a courtyard with an overhanging tree, a picnic bench, hammock, and a few smokers, and then through a door (someone motioned me in) and a dark hallway, finally stepping into a room so black I was blind.  Dazzled by the darkness.  “Ch!” Ch!” “Ch!”  behind me and to my left, loud plosives. “Tk!” “Tk!” ahead and to my right.  A beatbox of voices around me in the room.  I could hear bodies, at first a sudden scuffle of feet and then a loud thumping shaking the floor as they danced.  Frightening, the intense motion of all those bodies running and jumping in what to me was complete invisibility. I stand very still — I can see nothing of them, but they can surely see and avoid colliding with each other and me.  Trust.  One comes up behind me, “Ch!” “Ch!” “Ch!” so close her breath (by her height, a woman?) puffs against the back of my neck sending waves of tickling sensation down my back and up into my scalp.

Five minutes later my eyes have adjusted enough to make my way gently across the room, through the forest of dancers. Living shadows. I find a perch in the far corner and watch. They are telling a story now, or maybe it’s an essay, each trying out personal variations on the phrase, “the money I make doing insignificant things is not insignificant,”  Sometimes an attempt, a variation is met with a group chorus of “no” and the voice tries the sentence a different way.  Then they are making rhythms again, and they start singing — the pale moon of one woman’s face turns to me, she is singing to me, and I recognize the opening words of “Good Vibrations.”  It’s disconcerting, and intimate, and good.  And then they are all dancing and singing the chorus, and when the next verse comes she’s a little close, and singing, again, just to me.

All this while new people are stumbling into the room, blind and stripped of their certainties.  Now that I can see them, I feel a tenderness towards my earlier state, towards them in their own particularity, towards them-as-me.  There is much more you could say about this piece (Tino Sehgal’s “This Variation” — I was in Kassel, Germany, visting Documenta 13) but the part I’d most like to talk about is the least describable, resistant in almost every way to representation, even in language (our last resort when pictures fail?).  The experience of the experience.  The coming-into-sight from blindness and helplessness in this field of sound and action, voices and bodies.  But also the coming-into-community from the from the solitary place of the (blind) observer.  I was alone in the dark (quivering with attention), then found and sung to (almost too much), then, a bit later, dancing and making sounds with the troupe.  It seemed, if I stayed long enough, I’d become, in every way, part of the piece.

Which is to say, yes, experience, but experience (intense, interesting, altering experience) belongs to art as much as it does to ordinary life.  And if art experiences fail to live up to a great party with people we love then I think art (in that moment) has failed, or we have failed it (given that the experience is created as much by the “viewer” as by the object).

Here’s another place I found myself, two or three weeks further into the deepening summer.  It’s July. Now I’m Pennsylvania, at a complex of buildings set on a hill overlooking a long green field, surrounded by deep forest, This is more difficult describe, not because of its ineffability, but because the experiences are so various that the whole becomes elusive.  Maybe a few quick scenes will catch some of it.  One: waking to very early light in a Thoreau sized wooden shack. Above my head, two taxidermied birds meeting beak to beak in a glassed shadow box; on the shelf beside the bed, rows of natural history guides, complete sets from several publishers, well worn copies gleaned from countless used booksellers.  It’s a tiny house, the bed raised up so you have to clamber into it, sandwiched between storage areas above and below to make a cozy nook, curtained for winter or privacy.  There’s a wood stove, a small desk, a full naturalist’s library, tools for fishing, observing, cataloging, the companionship of a few more stuffed birds and animals including an otter rearing on his hind paws and an unnaturally large orange and white guinea pig sporting what appear to be artificial fangs. I pull on a big shirt and make my way past the barn to wash in the outdoor shower, looking out over the valley to a wooded ridge as it catches the morning sun. Or: its the last day of the week before the new farm CSA box appears and its time to make dinner for a dozen or more.  Only a few potatoes are left, some cucumbers and chard, but there are bushel sized bags of dried goods and someone has started a hearty lentil soup.  The potatoes will go into that, and the chard and cucumber into a salad.  But what else? Everyone is hungry. There’s a beautiful bowl of eggs in the refrigerator, so I take those out, hunting around for something that will turn them into a supper. One by one I pull out all the lovely bowls and glass jars that have been stacked and arranged in the fridge to make it a kind of installation.  I find cheeses in decorative aperitif glasses with saucers as lids: blue cheese, goat, something aromatic and indefinable.  I find tapenades, and a wonderful lemon curd. I find a small jar of marinara someone made, left over from the dinner two nights ago — this is good, an inspiration. In the crawlspace there are cans of real italian tomatoes.  I heat them with the marinara into a sauce, pour that into white baking dishes, crack the eggs in a pattern, sprinkle some scavenged mozzarella and parmesan, and slide it all into the uncertain oven for baking. In the end the eggs come out with the browned cheese bubbling and are spooned from their baking dishes into bowls of the soup, and it all feels like a magic trick. Or switch scenes: now, bright day, sitting & lying on the grass under an old apple tree which has grown next to a big pine, a circle of us, talking intently into a second hour while our stomachs growl for the lunch we are delaying — reporting to each other the subtle qualities of an aesthetic experience we have all just shared, listening and talking as we fiddle with clover leaves and bits of twig.  We’ve had days of this, looking and talking and looking and talking.  In between, groups have met to explore Feldenkrais movement, to write together, to read thick stacks of pages about the ontology of objects (thing theory).  There’s already too much whirling around in our heads, but no one wants to stop.

These flash scenes are small parts of the living “complexity” that is Mildred’s Lane, an experiment in radical pedagogy, communal living, and place-centric art/life that was founded some years ago by J. Morgan Puett and Mark Dion. If the Tino Sehgal piece at Documenta positions itself as a work of social and choreographic “visual” art, Mildred’s Lane is closer to a real social “practice,” something situated in doing rather than claiming, something made emergently by the small actions of many, as close to “life” as it is to “art.”  Mildred’s Lane intentionally mixes the experience of landscape, the aesthetics of living spaces, the daily work of cooking and cleaning (“workstyles” Puett calls this), with art making, conversation, theory, argument, teaching, and learning.

So, I would argue (argue! yes) that there is plenty of experience to be had with art.  And plenty to be had with social practice. One thing I was struck by at Open Engagement is that the descriptive language used by many social practitioners is an impoverished one.  Project statements are written largely before the fact, as proposals and as ways of gathering participants.  We may have a tendency to forget, collectively, the rich and largely indescribable experience of actually being a part of them.  We’re used to evaluating more historically familiar art forms on the basis of their claims about themselves, and in the case of some kinds of conceptual art these claims themselves become the work.  Social practice doesn’t contain itself well in these sorts of statements.  

Social practice has also tried to resist (rightly, I think) the display of documentation, pushing (to the inconvenience of museums and galleries) for the presence of live people doing things.  Better something transplanted live, if awkwardly, from a non-art context than a long row of photos and wall text, or a forlorn video screen. But this may have contributed to the problem I felt. There hasn’t yet been an urgent investigation of the chasm between the lived experience of works like these and the constricted voice of their own P.R.  Performance art, by contrast, has been grappling with this problem far longer.

I’ll stop myself here.  Lots of art has happened to me since we last wrote, and lots of life as well.  Maybe if we think of “practice” as just meaning something we do, something we do on purpose, and if we feel that our purposes matter, its easy to see why there’s something we care about that’s at stake in all this.

Randall: As usual Sal, you’ve made an eloquent defense of art’s ability to create meaningful experience(s). Although I would say you’re cheating just a little bit with Mildred’s Lane as the “art” part of it is way too messy to fully claim credit. My problem is that I find life so full of amazing poetic moments that I don’t need or want someone to go about trying to create them for me. Aesthetic experience is everywhere and I’ve found that art is too often about pointing to that experience, describing that experience, dissecting it on the latest critical altar, documenting it…

I mean, take your commentary about the “impoverished” descriptive language for social practice  —  I think we are getting dangerously close to agreeing here! I would argue that is precisely to the degree that social practice tries to generate “project statements” and “proposals” and that it tries to adapt itself to the “historically familiar” art practice of making claims by which it can then be judged in some intellectual way, is the degree to which it fails to become anything other than another genre, another art fad waiting to fade from the limelight…

It is indeed the vast “chasm between the lived experience of works like these and the constricted voice of their own P.R.” that is the very structure of contemporary art itself! Art has basically become a truth in advertising test — did the ad accurately convey the experience of using the product? Did the advertiser make false claims about the product? Is that all that is at stake?

I keep finding myself thinking/feeling that all of the things that distinguish an art project from some other thing/experience in the world are all of the things that make it less interesting, not more, that make it less vital, less luminous, less magical.

To invoke Kaprow again:

I would like to imagine a time when Tail Wagging Dog could be experienced and discussed outside the arts and their myriad histories and expectations. It would be a relief to discard the pious legitimizing that automatically accompanies anything called art; and to bypass the silly obligation to live up to art’s claim on supreme values. (Art saves the world, or at least the artist.) The arts are not bad; it’s the overinflated way we think about them that has made them unreal. For activities like Tail Wagging Dog, the arts are mostly irrelevant and cause needless confusion. … But in the foreseeable future, complete detachment from art culture is unlikely…It can’t lose its parentage so quickly. The best that can be hoped is that a gradual weariness with the art connection will naturally occur as it appears, correctly, less and less important.

Maybe it is like National Lampoon’s Vacation, in it, Chevy Chase is determined to get to Walley World, along the way a series of mishaps occurs. These mishaps are all of the things beyond Chase’s control, and they are the things that make the film comedic, the vain attempt to stay on course, to stick to the plan, while life gets in the way… If art’s failure to fully control experience, to meet its own demands in the face of a recalcitrant life, were more like Chevy Chase forgetting to untie the dog from the bumper of his car before leaving the campground, then maybe I would find it more engaging. Instead, I’m left feeling sorry for the (tail wagging) dog.

Sal:  Ah, Randall, it’s so hard to leave it there, with you feeling sorry for art. And very funny for Chevy Chase to be given the last word. I just want to keep arguing, throwing the ball back and forth.  I want the game to keep going. And that’s, in the end, how I feel about art, too.




There are no comments

Add yours