July 27, 2015

7/23/15 – Fadell Redux

Artist: Greg Fadell

Location: My house

GF – Soda water

SRS – Coffe (black), soda water

Here’s what happens every time Greg Fadell and I get together: two hours or more disappear. We are a deadly combination of myriad keen interest, philosopher spirit, and probably a touch of the ability to shine on, if you want to double-edge that sword. Which tends to result in far-ranging and enthusiastic conversation whenever we meet.

Greg came over to check out the hoarder dollhouse, so we talked for a while after that about hoarding. I have said before, it is my favorite mental illness, because it’s so vividly externalized. Most other mental illness manifests as feelings, visions, or other ephemeral disturbances–hoarding is intensely physical, as though the insanity that is generally confined to the head of the sick person has jumped the banks and gotten everywhere. It sort of forces any visitor immediately within the headspace of the hoarder, by surrounding them with their artifacts.

There’s a set of Encyclopedia Britannica in my dining room, which caught Greg’s eye. He thinks that in the future, as internet resources become increasingly compromised–either by restricted access or tainted information–that hard-copy knowledge will return as a status symbol. Good to know I’m ahead of the game. To me, the encyclopedia set represents something more poignant; they were snagged off Craig’s List for me by a friend, who tells me the man who gave them away to her spent “his life savings” on them (I think at one point, buying a direct set of EB was, like, $2,000 or something? It’s hard to comprehend, because they are basically worthless now). Anyway, what strikes me about the act of purchasing an encyclopedia set is that it’s basically an attempt at control. What they sell you on is the idea that contained within these couple-dozen volumes is all the information. Everything you might need to know. Which then, by extension, makes it seem attainable that you might be able to know everything. The spine of Volume 1 of this set is well-worn, but the rest are in pristine, untouched order–what that says to me is, this man set out to read them cover to cover, to know everything…and gave up pretty quickly. And while it seems laughable to try to buy information, when we’ve become so accustomed to having the world at our search bar, but Greg’s perspective is quite valid–internet has basically trained us, in a very short window of time, not to know anything. It’s hard to get through a meal without people pulling out their smartphones to confirm some detail, verify a fact, remember a name. What if that all went away? What if it cost $1 every time you needed to do that? Will we still have the collective mental wherewithal to carry information inside us, if our mental back-up were disabled? I think the tone of conversation would fall off pretty dramatically, actually. Use it or lose it.

Greg and I also talked about the politics of self-promotion, which is a game he understands pretty well. I’m still processing the full set of implications from the Creative Capital workshop, but Greg is a good case study in applying the classic Detroit hustle to one’s professional art practice, rather than spreading oneself out across three part-time jobs (ahem, like me) to support a “pure” art practice. And, I mean, whether luck or connection, pure hustle or sheer talent, Greg is doing pretty well with that, it seems. His work is certainly strongly conceptual, and it benefits me as a viewer to hear about the thought he puts into it, because there is a lot of nuance–a lot of the work Greg does involves thinking about his process, the art world in general, and different systems of valuation.

We compared some of my bowls–one by local (amazing) ceramic artist Susannah Goodman, and one mass-manufactured bowl that I’ve had for almost 20 years and to which I am insensibly attached. Our examination of “art value” versus “use value” as components of “value” ties in with one of Greg’s favorite subjects: Antiques Road Show. I need to get back to the MOCAD while his solo show is still up, and rewatch the video take-off he’s made about ARS. I will report back with further thoughts, once I’ve done so.

We talked about time-compression, something Greg thinks about as “wormholes.” At one time or another, we all act as wormholes for other people or things on Earth–that is to say, we act as a vehicle that draws people through time or distance more quickly than they would usually be able to do. His example was picking up a turtle stuck in the middle of the road, and taking it across. That is, like, going warp speed for a turtle. That is flying. He kind of likened this to a successful art practice, too, saying, “You have to go out into the road, even knowing that turtles have died there before. It’s the only way you might be able to fly.” Maybe art in general is a kind of wormhole, having the ability to transport the artist through time and space (if you’ve experienced that ‘flow’ state, you know what I mean), and then also the viewer, through ideas that they might take much longer to have on their own…bears more consideration.

We had just scratched the surface of Jeff Koons, when we realized we both had to go. Dodged a bullet there, maybe, or maybe just planted a seed for a future conversation. If Greg’s wormhole theory is right, I think it’s possible that we are mutual wormholes, with the uncanny ability to make 2 hours of each others’ time disappear with remarkable quickness.

‘Til next time, Fadell!

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