Part of our SVA summer school program is the Friday series of talks by visiting lecturers. The most recent was by Clifford Owens, a black American photographer, talking about his own work in the context of mind-body connections. Unfortunately, he (like art critic Jerry Saltz, the previous week’s speaker) couldn’t seem to connect with any part of the body apart from genitalia. Come and get it, girls! I want pussy, and you want me! (Well, not everybody. At least one woman left at this point.)
What is it with these guys? Is NYC so cat-starved that they can’t get no satisfaction? Or do they just lack any sense of social context and professionalism? Or is the context in NYC so different that what they’re doing is actually acceptable?
Once Owens moved past this, and showed his own vulnerabilities as a person and as an artist (including his self-admitted ego), he provided some useful insights into his art-making practice, and the challenges he faces doing performative work at the edges.
I’m reminded of watching musicians. The younger guys are all struttin’ their look-at-moi stuff, but the older guys are just happy to play. They’ve passed the stage where they need to establish their bona-fides. Their music is so much better for it. Take a lesson, Clifford.