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Saturday, August 20, 2011


vik muniz, cloud cloud manhattan

vik muniz, earthwork

I have just come away from a video I found on YouTube, Vik Muniz: Art With Wire, Thread, Sugar, Chocolate. Vik Muniz flows freely through the art of the late 20th Century in his mind games that become art. He's an abstract expressionist, a pop artist, minimalist and conceptualist in one. Both of the above images attest it. Much of what he does is temporary and he makes a photograph of the image, then the photograph is the work of art. I'm guessing he hired a pilot familiar with sky-writing to make the outline of a cloud over Manhattan. He got photographs of it from the ground. His work is truly original while referencing other artists before him, like Christo made his life as an artist wrapping things, which Man Ray had done back in Surrealist times in Paris.

Vik Muniz follows Robert Smithson and some others doing earthworks. Smithson used the timeless universal symbol of the spiral making the Spiral Jetty, which is now underwater still visible from above. Muniz uses things like the lines of an envelope, a paper clip, scissors in his earthworks, things everyone on earth connected with civilization recognizes. He is dedicated to the art in the mundane like Claes Oledenberg, who made sculpture of a giant pair of pliars, a safety pin standing on its head at least 25' into the air and the pointed end sticking out at a 90 degree angle, a giant clothespin standing straight up. Vik Muniz works with the familiar objects in the spirit of play, like Oldenberg in that way too. While Muniz is referencing these artists before him, he has his own eye, his own mind, his own humor, his own spirit so uniquely that none of the referencing is copying. At netflix I found a film called WASTELAND made either by Vik Muniz or about him making art from things found in the dump in Rio de Janerio in Brazil, where he's from, though living now in New York. Wasteland should be here one day next week.

Today's movie was a documentary, The End Of The Line, having to do with the earth's oceans being fished out. What I learned from the day's viewing is the race to catch the last fish is happening all over the world. It's not far off, either. Cod have been fished down so low they can't come back. A kind of manta ray is becoming thick in the area, because the cod ate them. Now the rays are the crop. Due to the end of the cod, lobsters are coming in thicker than ever, increasing the lobster business. Bluefin tuna are now gone. Remember Charlie the Starkist tuna? He's dead. The people studying the rate at which the oceans are being fished out are saying 90% of the oceans fish have been eaten by us. Only 10% of the underwater life is left. Ten more years and we won't have any more fish. That is, if it keeps on going like it is. Nothing, no power, no government can stop the fishing fleets that are largely pirates. When fish become rare, prices go up, fishing increases going for the big bucks. We can hunt individual fish now with hi-tech sonar, so the last fish is a near at hand likelihood.

Things, however, have a way of changing. Maybe if we have a financial meltdown all over the world, fishing will decrease. It's quite amazing to see the gigantic trawlers that scoop up huge nets heavy with wiggling fish. Like everything else in our civilization's excesses, it doesn't seem right. It's like the Christmas tree business here; everybody knows why our county has the highest cancer rate in the state. Nobody does a thing about it, because a handful of men are making mightily multiple millions on Christmas trees at everyone else's expense, poisoning mountain spring water at its source and fouling the landscape. That's the way it is with the fishing industries around the world. Billions are made all around the globe on fishing the deep blue sea. A dozen or so billionaires around the globe aren't going to put an end to the source of their wealth until there is nothing left. Now we have an unbelievable number of frozen bluefin tuna warehoused toward the time when the ocean is fished out, to be sold at highly inflated prices to people able to pay it. A whole new business. At whose expense is this? Everyone on earth, including the people doing it.

We've come into the time when all our dues are coming due at once. I've been seeing it in my mind since the 1960s that we humans on earth are collectively in a big jet plane flying into the side of a mountain at full speed. It seems by 2011 the nose-cone is making contact. The plane being the planet itself, it makes the calendar year 2012 look like a pretty good guess at when the humans render the planet unable to take care of us any longer. It could be ugly. I'm not going to play prophet and make a guess at a possible scenario when many are possible, and at least one it will be, probably a conglomerate of all possible. The Age of Oil has brought us to this. I have an idea that something will happen to save us from certain extinction. Maybe after this time of the plane hitting the side of the mountain will be the time of melting down military equipment, tanks, ships, guns, and making farm equipment toward mindful crop growing. No more Capitalism. No more Communism. Living more altruistically, looking to the well-being of all concerned, including self. The Age of All For Self didn't last very long.


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