Saturday, January 23, 2010

Our Little Baby, Alls Grown Up: Claire Fontaine @ Reena Spaulings

Much like the art of their fictive gallerist, Claire Fontaine's new work has managed to become "better" in the same sense that an art student's gets better in the 2 or 4 (or 8 to 10) years they spend on the receiving end of pedagogy. Unlike most doe-eyed students, the paperback-moniker'd "artist" clearly announce their artistic inauthenticity, preferring to d├ętourn contemporary art's familiars into Tiqqun-fueled "agency." With earlier work, cleverness aside, these appropriated idioms rarely ceased in their banal overfamiliarity despite Claire's politicizing efforts. This became especially evident as the work was plunged into a commercial context flooded with artists and gallerists peddling neo-traditional art objects as contextual deterritorializations—same stone, different book (do they still do that or are we onto post-boom cultural anthropology?).

Years later though, after accelerating through the known repertoire of usable artistic norms, Claire now settles on an approach that almost feels—much like a student having effectively synthesized their formative influences—individuated and self-actualized (again Reena Spaulings has also "accomplished" a similar feat with her recent show at the Liz Dee of Europe—i.e. desperate for publicized legitimation, Sutton Lane). Of course, some may mourn for the impish days of yore when it was all fun, kinda dumb jokes, the venerable "demo" years before hourly labor entered into the picture; when one could doubtingly sink their fingers into Claire's ragged seams and praise her ability to effectively conceive ineffectual objects while simultaneously dispersing subject-identities like hootch in Cocktail—RSFA's then stock in trade. However, Claire's slick synthesis of phantom/jeune fille subjectivity with the neoliberal doctrine of self-improvement is a daft "accomplishment." It subtly counters the familiar creative regimes initiated by such a lift-yerself-up-by-the-bootstraps doctrine, aptly demonstrating how subjectively-endowed "lives" needn't be "real" to cohere to the folktales of immaterialized polities. Well, that or she started ripping off Chinese artists—

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