While I plan to return with my own statement, I want to tip my hat to Clive Robertson for his intro.
This addresses several of the profound challenges in the concept of the Eternal Network, especially as Robert Filliou and George Brecht conceived it.
Robert ultimately withdrew into the monastic life of Buddhism, dying on a five-year retreat. George withdrew to a nearly monastic life, answering his phone only when someone made an appointment by postcard, and nearly never going out. In theearly 1970s, Dick Higgins suggested that I find a way to make a living outside the art world – I dipped in and out of the art world for some years, but I found a day job that suited me in the 1990s: it suited me so well that I have mostly stayed away from the art world, doing my art privately. The issues involved are quite complex – nearly everyone needs to make a living, so we all do something, and it sometimes touches on art. This is the case for Clive, too. He teaches art and art history to make a living.
There are several questions I plan to address, dealing with networks and network effects, and globalism as distinct from globalization. Clive is in essence raising aquestion that Robert (Filliou, 2004: 16) asked in his 1966 manifesto, “A Proposition, a Problem, a Danger, and a Hunch.” Robert called for a “A refusal to be colonized culturally by a selfstyled race of specialists in painting, sculpture, poetry, music, etc....”
You can get it in PDF format at this URL:
But there are many sides to this coin. I don’t know if there is a good answer, or even a happy one.
Clive ran one of the loveliest spaces, projects, and publishing entities in the not-quite-eternal network of the early 1970s, W.O.R.K.S. in Calgary. I’m always amazed at how much more intelligent and free things are when we don’t need to fund them through the governments and governmental systems that require us to become professional artists. This is what leads to the problem that Clive identifies so well: “The network as shared in the early 1970s preceded the formalization of artists spaces that confronted / was confronted itself by network issues. The network itself was open to abuse as an alternative or oppositional disguise for self-promotion but remains I think a very different concept than what often poses now as reforms or improvements to a re-established hierarchical and exclusionary art system.” That, in essence, is the price in a world where professionalization and the submissive role are quite close to the same thing.
My day job turned out to be quite a good thing – I was good at it, and it suited me better than I could have imagined. No life is perfect, but the next best thing to living the life of a monk is working as a scholar and researcher.
Two or three times in the past few days, I have had occasion to think of another Zen monk, Han-Shan (1966: 49), a 9th century Buddhist and poet. I’ll close with his words for now:
When men see Han-shan
They all say he’s crazy
And not much to look at -
Dressed in rags and hides.
They don’t get what I say
And I don’t talk their language.
All I can say to those I meet:
“Try and make it to Cold Mountain.”
Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | University Distinguished Professor | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Australia | [log in to unmask] | Mobile +61 404 830 462 | Home Page http://www.swinburne.edu.au/design/people/Professor-Ken-Friedman-ID22.html<http://www.swinburne.edu.au/design>
Guest Professor | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China
Filliou, Robert. 1966. “A Proposition, a Problem, a Danger, and a Hunch.” Manifestoes. New York: Something Else Press, p. 16. [Reprinted 2004.] Free digital copy available at Ubu Classics URL: http://www.ubu.com/historical/gb/index.html Accessed 5 February 2013.
Han-Shan. 1966. Cold Mountain Poems. Translated by Gary Snyder. In Riprap and Cold MountainPoems. San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation.