William Powhida at Schroeder Romero

by Art Fag City on April 16, 2009 · 57 comments Events + Reviews

art fag city, paddy johnson, william powhida
William Powhida, Relational Wall, 2009, watercolor, 40 x 60 inches. Image via: Schroeder and Romero

A testament to the migration of cliche online behavioral norms to the offline world, William Powhida presents an uncensored portrait of the art world from a fictious Thai jail cell, circa September – December 2009 at Schroeder Romero.  If you’re part of this community, the show is literally like staring into the sun: you can’t turn away.   Hand drawn notebook pages with text on the art world fill the gallery, many of which contain jewels of insider knowledge and reflections on the art world. I spent a good half hour looking at Powida’s, Relational Wall, an annotated watercolor painting depicting virtually every art celebrity in town.  “I like to party”, reads the text under Alexis Hubshman of the Scope fair, while dealer Jeffery Deitch sits at the center of the piece.  As those in the scene already know, this version of the future isn’t all that different than it is today, but then social economies rarely transform themselves so completely over the course of six months.

On a related note, the exhibition’s press release necessarily references art scholar Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Art, a term identifying works based upon the inter-human relations which they represent, produce or prompt.  While appropriate, my hope is that an academic with a better understanding of online culture updates these theories for the fine art world.   Powhida’s work may reflect the development of complex social networks lessening our interest in privacy but his mirror is hardly unique.  It’s simply one more product in the giant Facebook economy.  And even within said marketplace, the idea that this kind of personal information has any lasting or substantive value has been questioned.

Editor’s note: Thanks to artists William Powhida and Jennifer Dalton for including Art Fag City as one of three remaining art publications in NYC in 2012. ArtForum and Gallery Guide were also named.

  • http://schroederromero.com Sara Jo Romero

    Thanks for the insightful shout out PJ!

  • http://schroederromero.com Sara Jo Romero

    Thanks for the insightful shout out PJ!

  • long

    very true. this was very insightful. especially this part:

    “Powhida’s work may reflect the development of complex social networks lessening our interest in privacy but his mirror is hardly unique.”

    An understatement indeed.

  • long

    very true. this was very insightful. especially this part:

    “Powhida’s work may reflect the development of complex social networks lessening our interest in privacy but his mirror is hardly unique.”

    An understatement indeed.

  • William Powhida

    Hey Paddy,

    The journal pages in the show come from a possible future for William Powhida after he’s bottomed out in the flailing economy while the relational wall is generally a reflection of the last three years of the art boom. It’s an outcome of Powhida’s forced reflection while sitting in a Thai prison cell. Certainly facebook, which my art dealers are probably scouring right now, has informed the structure of the work, but all the images (including the surrounding wall of prints) are primarily from celebratory art world photographs from Artforum diary and Artnet while all the information is based only on gossip, supposition, and personal knowledge. I included the 2,500 plus portraits (the last 3 years of Art forum Diary) around the painting to suggest that there isn’t going to be much lasting value in most of what the art world takes so seriously. The relational wall is a paranoid, obsessive snapshot of the art world at the height of our inglorious gilded age funded with all that money that disappeared when the stock market nearly halved itself. That money is gone, and may never come back. Certainly not without heavy taxes on the wealthy. Still, I completely agree with you that many of the major players will still exactly be right where they are in the hierarchy with only the supporting characters changing and exchanging roles in a year or even five years and I’ll still be doing whatever it is that I do. My hope, like most of my work, is that it reflects my actual cultural experience during this period. I pulled Bourriaud’s quote because it suggests that the relational wall is Powhida’s self-portrait. Anyway, the game isn’t over, as Bourriaud suggests it won’t start over until the ‘social setting radically changes’. That would probably require an alternative to capitalism. I hope the painting didn’t cause any permanent damage.

    -Cheers,

    William

  • http://williampowhida,blogspot.com William Powhida

    Hey Paddy,

    The journal pages in the show come from a possible future for William Powhida after he’s bottomed out in the flailing economy while the relational wall is generally a reflection of the last three years of the art boom. It’s an outcome of Powhida’s forced reflection while sitting in a Thai prison cell. Certainly facebook, which my art dealers are probably scouring right now, has informed the structure of the work, but all the images (including the surrounding wall of prints) are primarily from celebratory art world photographs from Artforum diary and Artnet while all the information is based only on gossip, supposition, and personal knowledge. I included the 2,500 plus portraits (the last 3 years of Art forum Diary) around the painting to suggest that there isn’t going to be much lasting value in most of what the art world takes so seriously. The relational wall is a paranoid, obsessive snapshot of the art world at the height of our inglorious gilded age funded with all that money that disappeared when the stock market nearly halved itself. That money is gone, and may never come back. Certainly not without heavy taxes on the wealthy. Still, I completely agree with you that many of the major players will still exactly be right where they are in the hierarchy with only the supporting characters changing and exchanging roles in a year or even five years and I’ll still be doing whatever it is that I do. My hope, like most of my work, is that it reflects my actual cultural experience during this period. I pulled Bourriaud’s quote because it suggests that the relational wall is Powhida’s self-portrait. Anyway, the game isn’t over, as Bourriaud suggests it won’t start over until the ‘social setting radically changes’. That would probably require an alternative to capitalism. I hope the painting didn’t cause any permanent damage.

    -Cheers,

    William

  • Art Fag City

    I updated the post to include the Thai jail cell bit of background to the show, as I shouldn’t have omitted it. That said, I also don’t find that aspect of the work very interesting, (sorry). It provides rationalization for the form of the work, but there’s no surprises within that framework.

    In any case, where ever the fictional version of you makes the work, I feel like it wouldn’t exist at all without the Internet. I don’t think this kind of candor was socially acceptable 15 years ago.

  • Art Fag City

    I updated the post to include the Thai jail cell bit of background to the show, as I shouldn’t have omitted it. That said, I also don’t find that aspect of the work very interesting, (sorry). It provides rationalization for the form of the work, but there’s no surprises within that framework.

    In any case, where ever the fictional version of you makes the work, I feel like it wouldn’t exist at all without the Internet. I don’t think this kind of candor was socially acceptable 15 years ago.

  • alikelove

    I’m not sure why this is talked about in terms of relational esthetics- I think it’s an over simplification of Bourriaud’s to try and connect this show to Relational Esthetics. It seems so self-indulgent, but not in an excess is fascinating kind of way. My read is that this work is only considered and noticed by his subjects (or those who envy his subjects), as an act of vanity. (i.e. your editors note) That may be Powhida’s intent, but still, I sense a desperation in this show with I believe is genuine, not a part of a social critique.

  • alikelove

    I’m not sure why this is talked about in terms of relational esthetics- I think it’s an over simplification of Bourriaud’s to try and connect this show to Relational Esthetics. It seems so self-indulgent, but not in an excess is fascinating kind of way. My read is that this work is only considered and noticed by his subjects (or those who envy his subjects), as an act of vanity. (i.e. your editors note) That may be Powhida’s intent, but still, I sense a desperation in this show with I believe is genuine, not a part of a social critique.

  • Art Fag City

    @alikelove I’d agree with that.

  • Art Fag City

    @alikelove I’d agree with that.

  • long

    @alikelove. Yes, very nicely put. Any artist who speaks of themselves in the third person reeks of pure and genuine desperation.

  • long

    @alikelove. Yes, very nicely put. Any artist who speaks of themselves in the third person reeks of pure and genuine desperation.

  • William Powhida

    alikelove

    The painting in the show is not a relational work. I find Bourriaud’s analysis of how art acquires meaning to be compelling, but I am not in the gallery producing a set of systems or encounters that might comprise a social critique. It’s more of the underlying assumptions about art that Bourriaud exposes in just the first chapter of the book. “If we nudge Daney’s reasoning a bit further, form is the representative of desire in the image. It is the horizon based on which the image may have a meaning, by pointing to a desired world, which the beholder thus becomes capable of discussing, and based on which his own desire can rebound.” You aren’t just sensing desperation, it’s clearly there. I am desperate, not to be Jeffery, Larry, Takashi, Jeff, or Dash, but to make (non)sense of the world around me and to make work that provokes reflection. I think each viewer brings their own set of experiences to the work and is constantly referencing their own knowledge, opinions, and ideas based on what’s presented. It’s a place for the viewer to orient themselves in the social hierarchy. That we are discussing this on a blog probably indicates that we aren’t on the map. Paddy is doing an excellent job of establishing herself in the art world largely through her exercise of judgment, which in many ways Relational Aesthetics wants to transcend, but Bourriaud is judgmental as hell in many ways of others to advance his theory of artistic production. It’s why I like his book, and why I enjoy reading Paddy. She doesn’t even pretend to have an objective voice and I know what to expect when I read the blog. She has a perspective that I certainly relate to.

  • http://williampowhida,blogspot.com William Powhida

    alikelove

    The painting in the show is not a relational work. I find Bourriaud’s analysis of how art acquires meaning to be compelling, but I am not in the gallery producing a set of systems or encounters that might comprise a social critique. It’s more of the underlying assumptions about art that Bourriaud exposes in just the first chapter of the book. “If we nudge Daney’s reasoning a bit further, form is the representative of desire in the image. It is the horizon based on which the image may have a meaning, by pointing to a desired world, which the beholder thus becomes capable of discussing, and based on which his own desire can rebound.” You aren’t just sensing desperation, it’s clearly there. I am desperate, not to be Jeffery, Larry, Takashi, Jeff, or Dash, but to make (non)sense of the world around me and to make work that provokes reflection. I think each viewer brings their own set of experiences to the work and is constantly referencing their own knowledge, opinions, and ideas based on what’s presented. It’s a place for the viewer to orient themselves in the social hierarchy. That we are discussing this on a blog probably indicates that we aren’t on the map. Paddy is doing an excellent job of establishing herself in the art world largely through her exercise of judgment, which in many ways Relational Aesthetics wants to transcend, but Bourriaud is judgmental as hell in many ways of others to advance his theory of artistic production. It’s why I like his book, and why I enjoy reading Paddy. She doesn’t even pretend to have an objective voice and I know what to expect when I read the blog. She has a perspective that I certainly relate to.

  • William Powhida

    @long

    You complete me.

    In some ways Paddy, you’ve brought the whole show into the realm of the Internet which wouldn’t have been possible fifteen years ago. This encounter wouldn’t have been possible. Your type of candor wouldn’t have been possible in traditional media. Long wouldn’t have a platform to rail against my ‘pure and genuine desperation’. None of us here have proven to be really any different. Long’s goal, your goal, and my goal all reek of desperation for recognition. It’s one of those things we seem to be in denial about in the art world, that we are all seeking recognition for our images and words, that they matter in some way. We are all in competition, which often makes us look pretty ugly. I suppose, Long, that’s why I am implicated in my narrative. I didn’t create a purely fictional artist to make work about so my own complicity in the game would be called into question, and you question it. You are now part of the game and it expands the work as any criticism does. It becomes part of the form and shapes it. Please keep cutting away, you are shaping it, changing it, making it yourself.

  • http://williampowhida,blogspot.com William Powhida

    @long

    You complete me.

    In some ways Paddy, you’ve brought the whole show into the realm of the Internet which wouldn’t have been possible fifteen years ago. This encounter wouldn’t have been possible. Your type of candor wouldn’t have been possible in traditional media. Long wouldn’t have a platform to rail against my ‘pure and genuine desperation’. None of us here have proven to be really any different. Long’s goal, your goal, and my goal all reek of desperation for recognition. It’s one of those things we seem to be in denial about in the art world, that we are all seeking recognition for our images and words, that they matter in some way. We are all in competition, which often makes us look pretty ugly. I suppose, Long, that’s why I am implicated in my narrative. I didn’t create a purely fictional artist to make work about so my own complicity in the game would be called into question, and you question it. You are now part of the game and it expands the work as any criticism does. It becomes part of the form and shapes it. Please keep cutting away, you are shaping it, changing it, making it yourself.

  • Art Fag City

    It’s true that comments encourage dialogue, but to be honest, I feel like my review fails to engage the art sufficiently. Your show isn’t about the Internet or this online discussion — that’s simply an extraneous idea brought up by its subject matter. I should have been discussing the effectiveness of the fictitious version of yourself set up, the specific ideas evoked by the quote used in the press release (rather than the larger ideas within the book it came from), and how compelling the art itself is. Conceptually, I think this work is flawed. Even those creating the stories at magazines know stories about art celebs aren’t substantive. That stuff simply sells papers. I just don’t see how this version of the future (as pertaining to the images) is telling us something we don’t already know.

    I also don’t see the point of drawing out the paper you used to write on in the cell, except to underscore the point that it’s a fictional story and to create a more saleable object. It’s fine to emphasis these aspects of the work, but the choices are too predictable.

    That said, the amount of detail and insider knowledge on these works is impressive and likely illuminating for outsiders. You’re taking the well trod Sean Landers road though. Be careful.

  • Art Fag City

    It’s true that comments encourage dialogue, but to be honest, I feel like my review fails to engage the art sufficiently. Your show isn’t about the Internet or this online discussion — that’s simply an extraneous idea brought up by its subject matter. I should have been discussing the effectiveness of the fictitious version of yourself set up, the specific ideas evoked by the quote used in the press release (rather than the larger ideas within the book it came from), and how compelling the art itself is. Conceptually, I think this work is flawed. Even those creating the stories at magazines know stories about art celebs aren’t substantive. That stuff simply sells papers. I just don’t see how this version of the future (as pertaining to the images) is telling us something we don’t already know.

    I also don’t see the point of drawing out the paper you used to write on in the cell, except to underscore the point that it’s a fictional story and to create a more saleable object. It’s fine to emphasis these aspects of the work, but the choices are too predictable.

    That said, the amount of detail and insider knowledge on these works is impressive and likely illuminating for outsiders. You’re taking the well trod Sean Landers road though. Be careful.

  • William Powhida

    Paddy,

    By drawing out the paper used in the fictional narrative, what do you mean? The paper isn’t drawn like my previous work. The paper was fabricated this time, so the paper could function more like an artifact and be an object/installation. I think it works against what a number of people have been attracted to; the simple illusion of the paper, which also seemed like a redundant activity since it’s a larger narrative. The biggest concession I made to the dealers was allowing for the possibility of it being sold as chapters, since they are the episodic ramblings of a crazy person.

    The two drawings of rendered pages in the show were done before the prison narrative fully developed. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to include the two New York Times paintings in this show that set up the background for the narrative arc.

    I met Sean Landers at a studio visit at Hunter years ago, but I’ve never read his novel. He definitely presented himself as a character during his lecture and my then professor encouraged everyone to think critically about that, not just accept Sean Landers at face value. His recent work seems to be more about painting than language or any specific narrative though. That said, I’m aware of the danger and James Kalm wondered aloud in a review awhile back about it, but it’s part of the risk taking for me. It’s a different kind of risk-taking than say Dana, who changes her texture and it’s the rotation of the earth changed. I think I’ve tried to be more explicit about framing the art as fiction, making use of the narrator and characters, to treat the practice more like writing and occupying the authorial role. I think of Philip Roth writing about a Philip Roth, which is not some crazy practice.

    I think my interest in the social aspect of the art world and its attendant focus on celebrity doesn’t come from tabloid culture and entertainment value, but how it operates within the art world. Artforum diary is hugely popular and yet reduces art to an ongoing series of openings, galas, benefits, and events where things start looking rather self-satisfied. It’s part of the art world whether we agree with it or not. Gossip, speculation, and perception drive the art world.

    I also disagree with the idea that is encounter is extraneous to the work, since the work is about gossip, insider information, and the ways in which we collectively generate the value around the art and the public personas of artists. At a certain point the artist’s story becomes as much of a part of the mythology of the work as the work itself. Warhol cultivated his, while Pollock allowed the media (life magazine) to define him, inadvertently, as the greatest artist in America. I find that irony sort of wonderful. This is part of intervening in places that construct value, instead of passively accepting what is happening.

    I really appreciate your feedback though, because it is critical, smart, and makes me think about what I’m doing. I’m not just close to it, I’m in it and while I address criticism, i can’t criticize the work with any objectivity. I can just offer some explanation for my decisions. You say the work is compelling, and yet you don’t stop there, you raise questions and offer some analysis, and that’s what an artist wants to hear, not empty platitudes or hollow jabs.

    Thanks for your time.

  • http://williampowhida,blogspot.com William Powhida

    Paddy,

    By drawing out the paper used in the fictional narrative, what do you mean? The paper isn’t drawn like my previous work. The paper was fabricated this time, so the paper could function more like an artifact and be an object/installation. I think it works against what a number of people have been attracted to; the simple illusion of the paper, which also seemed like a redundant activity since it’s a larger narrative. The biggest concession I made to the dealers was allowing for the possibility of it being sold as chapters, since they are the episodic ramblings of a crazy person.

    The two drawings of rendered pages in the show were done before the prison narrative fully developed. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to include the two New York Times paintings in this show that set up the background for the narrative arc.

    I met Sean Landers at a studio visit at Hunter years ago, but I’ve never read his novel. He definitely presented himself as a character during his lecture and my then professor encouraged everyone to think critically about that, not just accept Sean Landers at face value. His recent work seems to be more about painting than language or any specific narrative though. That said, I’m aware of the danger and James Kalm wondered aloud in a review awhile back about it, but it’s part of the risk taking for me. It’s a different kind of risk-taking than say Dana, who changes her texture and it’s the rotation of the earth changed. I think I’ve tried to be more explicit about framing the art as fiction, making use of the narrator and characters, to treat the practice more like writing and occupying the authorial role. I think of Philip Roth writing about a Philip Roth, which is not some crazy practice.

    I think my interest in the social aspect of the art world and its attendant focus on celebrity doesn’t come from tabloid culture and entertainment value, but how it operates within the art world. Artforum diary is hugely popular and yet reduces art to an ongoing series of openings, galas, benefits, and events where things start looking rather self-satisfied. It’s part of the art world whether we agree with it or not. Gossip, speculation, and perception drive the art world.

    I also disagree with the idea that is encounter is extraneous to the work, since the work is about gossip, insider information, and the ways in which we collectively generate the value around the art and the public personas of artists. At a certain point the artist’s story becomes as much of a part of the mythology of the work as the work itself. Warhol cultivated his, while Pollock allowed the media (life magazine) to define him, inadvertently, as the greatest artist in America. I find that irony sort of wonderful. This is part of intervening in places that construct value, instead of passively accepting what is happening.

    I really appreciate your feedback though, because it is critical, smart, and makes me think about what I’m doing. I’m not just close to it, I’m in it and while I address criticism, i can’t criticize the work with any objectivity. I can just offer some explanation for my decisions. You say the work is compelling, and yet you don’t stop there, you raise questions and offer some analysis, and that’s what an artist wants to hear, not empty platitudes or hollow jabs.

    Thanks for your time.

  • http://www.aids-3d.com Daniel Keller

    I really enjoyed Relational Wall. I, like Paddy, found myself entranced by all of the gossipy details, reading compulsively much like I would Facebook.

    Interestingly enough— despite taking up enormous amounts of our time, user-generated content sites like Youtube and Facebook are losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

    So…now for the actually relevant question… How were sales, William?

  • http://www.aids-3d.com Daniel Keller

    I really enjoyed Relational Wall. I, like Paddy, found myself entranced by all of the gossipy details, reading compulsively much like I would Facebook.

    Interestingly enough— despite taking up enormous amounts of our time, user-generated content sites like Youtube and Facebook are losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

    So…now for the actually relevant question… How were sales, William?

  • http://davidmcbride.net David

    hm. I saw a lot of comments and got the bug. I have very hard time with the show, which pulling a quote from the AFC review can help to explain: “If you’re part of this community, the show is literally like staring into the sun: you can’t turn away.”

    It’s navel-gazing, I think, and though I’m very sympathetic to William’s sentiments, the idea that such a practice is worth anything is not one I share. It’s the vacuum sucking us deeper- if you’re not “part of this community”, does that imply your experience of the work suffers or is rendered inadequate? Is it for those who are not part of this community that this is a drawing show, so some form of virtuosity is there for appreciation (when ultimately a presentation strategy utilizing photographic material would have sharpened the versimilitude of the magazine/computer screen)?

  • http://davidmcbride.net David

    hm. I saw a lot of comments and got the bug. I have very hard time with the show, which pulling a quote from the AFC review can help to explain: “If you’re part of this community, the show is literally like staring into the sun: you can’t turn away.”

    It’s navel-gazing, I think, and though I’m very sympathetic to William’s sentiments, the idea that such a practice is worth anything is not one I share. It’s the vacuum sucking us deeper- if you’re not “part of this community”, does that imply your experience of the work suffers or is rendered inadequate? Is it for those who are not part of this community that this is a drawing show, so some form of virtuosity is there for appreciation (when ultimately a presentation strategy utilizing photographic material would have sharpened the versimilitude of the magazine/computer screen)?

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    Daniel,

    I like how you’ve framed your question but the answer is at the gallery. It’s only interesting in so much as which work has or hasn’t sold. I’ll try and entice everyone to go back to find out for themselves, but the answer relates to this thread.

    David,

    Thanks for coming to the show first of all. I don’t know how to answer your question about not being part of this community affecting your ability to experience the work in any way, but i’ll try. I don’t think it matters if you personally don’t find it necessary to situate or assess your own place in the art world as you proceed through it (or find any value in doing so).

    I really envy your detachment and perhaps an ability to see beyond the ‘vacuum’. I’m always thinking about what each association means between artist, dealer, collector, and so on. I have more feelings and experiences than the painting depicts, which is about a sort of public face of the boom and my character; a particular perspective of things that makes the art world look fairly ridiculous. I would have to make another (much larger) painting to depict who and what I respect (even if the art world doesn’t).

    I think the more important question for me is the second one, which seems to be more about the merit of the show as drawings/paintings, and not their references/sources? You are correct in pointing out that these are formal objects that can indeed be judged, just as your paintings seem to reference photography but remain resolutely about painting and representation. I’ve tried using the Internet itself as part of a work that ultimately lead to some drawings, but also continues to exist as its own thing, without rendering the results as a ‘painting’ or ‘drawing’. (No one has ever asked if it’s for sale). I wasn’t trying to painting a giant computer screen with Relational Wall, but an analog wall, like some weird paranoid dude (version of me) sorting out a conspiracy. It could’ve functioned as a giant C-print of the all the sources or been painted in a way to suggest a greater approximation of reality, but I hope the comic effect and sort of failure of representation makes it more human in some way. I’ve always been drawn to the slightly pathetic, since I generally feel pretty pathetic. I painted them, and it was tough since I’m not particularly talented or consider the formal delivery to be of much importance by itself. I tried to paint the portraits as well as the photographic prints on the wall so that it would be clear they aren’t from memory, but filtered in the process moving from public to private to public again. I think there’s some evidence of my redundant labor that retains that faint odor of desperation. It’s certainly not effortless looking as if it just appeared.

    In the end, I’m not making this work from a purely ideological position. I try and make some of my desires, demands, bias visible through the work. I hope we’ll get a chance to talk at some point if we run into each other at an opening.

    w

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    Daniel,

    I like how you’ve framed your question but the answer is at the gallery. It’s only interesting in so much as which work has or hasn’t sold. I’ll try and entice everyone to go back to find out for themselves, but the answer relates to this thread.

    David,

    Thanks for coming to the show first of all. I don’t know how to answer your question about not being part of this community affecting your ability to experience the work in any way, but i’ll try. I don’t think it matters if you personally don’t find it necessary to situate or assess your own place in the art world as you proceed through it (or find any value in doing so).

    I really envy your detachment and perhaps an ability to see beyond the ‘vacuum’. I’m always thinking about what each association means between artist, dealer, collector, and so on. I have more feelings and experiences than the painting depicts, which is about a sort of public face of the boom and my character; a particular perspective of things that makes the art world look fairly ridiculous. I would have to make another (much larger) painting to depict who and what I respect (even if the art world doesn’t).

    I think the more important question for me is the second one, which seems to be more about the merit of the show as drawings/paintings, and not their references/sources? You are correct in pointing out that these are formal objects that can indeed be judged, just as your paintings seem to reference photography but remain resolutely about painting and representation. I’ve tried using the Internet itself as part of a work that ultimately lead to some drawings, but also continues to exist as its own thing, without rendering the results as a ‘painting’ or ‘drawing’. (No one has ever asked if it’s for sale). I wasn’t trying to painting a giant computer screen with Relational Wall, but an analog wall, like some weird paranoid dude (version of me) sorting out a conspiracy. It could’ve functioned as a giant C-print of the all the sources or been painted in a way to suggest a greater approximation of reality, but I hope the comic effect and sort of failure of representation makes it more human in some way. I’ve always been drawn to the slightly pathetic, since I generally feel pretty pathetic. I painted them, and it was tough since I’m not particularly talented or consider the formal delivery to be of much importance by itself. I tried to paint the portraits as well as the photographic prints on the wall so that it would be clear they aren’t from memory, but filtered in the process moving from public to private to public again. I think there’s some evidence of my redundant labor that retains that faint odor of desperation. It’s certainly not effortless looking as if it just appeared.

    In the end, I’m not making this work from a purely ideological position. I try and make some of my desires, demands, bias visible through the work. I hope we’ll get a chance to talk at some point if we run into each other at an opening.

    w

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    Daniel,

    I like how you’ve framed your question but the answer is at the gallery. It’s only interesting in so much as which work has or hasn’t sold. I’ll try and entice everyone to go back to find out for themselves, but the answer relates to this thread.

    David,

    Thanks for coming to the show first of all. I don’t know how to answer your question about not being part of this community affecting your ability to experience the work in any way, but i’ll try. I don’t think it matters if you personally don’t find it necessary to situate or assess your own place in the art world as you proceed through it (or find any value in doing so).

    I really envy your detachment and perhaps an ability to see beyond the ‘vacuum’. I’m always thinking about what each association means between artist, dealer, collector, and so on. I have more feelings and experiences than the painting depicts, which is about a sort of public face of the boom and my character; a particular perspective of things that makes the art world look fairly ridiculous. I would have to make another (much larger) painting to depict who and what I respect (even if the art world doesn’t).

    I think the more important question for me is the second one, which seems to be more about the merit of the show as drawings/paintings, and not their references/sources? You are correct in pointing out that these are formal objects that can indeed be judged, just as your paintings seem to reference photography but remain resolutely about painting and representation. I’ve tried using the Internet itself as part of a work that ultimately lead to some drawings, but also continues to exist as its own thing, without rendering the results as a ‘painting’ or ‘drawing’. (No one has ever asked if it’s for sale). I wasn’t trying to painting a giant computer screen with Relational Wall, but an analog wall, like some weird paranoid dude (version of me) sorting out a conspiracy. It could’ve functioned as a giant C-print of the all the sources or been painted in a way to suggest a greater approximation of reality, but I hope the comic effect and sort of failure of representation makes it more human in some way. I’ve always been drawn to the slightly pathetic, since I generally feel pretty pathetic. I painted them, and it was tough since I’m not particularly talented or consider the formal delivery to be of much importance by itself. I tried to paint the portraits as well as the photographic prints on the wall so that it would be clear they aren’t from memory, but filtered in the process moving from public to private to public again. I think there’s some evidence of my redundant labor that retains that faint odor of desperation. It’s certainly not effortless looking as if it just appeared.

    In the end, I’m not making this work from a purely ideological position. I try and make some of my desires, demands, bias visible through the work. I hope we’ll get a chance to talk at some point if we run into each other at an opening.

    w

  • http://www.schroederromero.com Lisa

    The major works have sold along with many smaller ones. It is all good….

  • http://www.schroederromero.com Lisa

    The major works have sold along with many smaller ones. It is all good….

  • alikelove

    Glad to hear he sold some work, but that doesn’t change the problems with his practice.

    This is amazing, check it out:
    http://williampowhida.blogspot.com/2009/04/post-opening-malaise.html

    William Powhida: 0
    Anonymous poster: 1

    plus all us ArtFag Posters get a shout out at the end.

  • alikelove

    Glad to hear he sold some work, but that doesn’t change the problems with his practice.

    This is amazing, check it out:
    http://williampowhida.blogspot.com/2009/04/post-opening-malaise.html

    William Powhida: 0
    Anonymous poster: 1

    plus all us ArtFag Posters get a shout out at the end.

  • Art Fag City

    I’m not a fan of that exchange quite frankly. In a perfect world, the aim of criticism is to put yourself out of business. In other words, you want people to learn from your feedback. It shouldn’t be an exercise in tearing someone down for the fun of it. I think a lot of that commentary was really mean spirited and unnecessary.

  • Art Fag City

    I’m not a fan of that exchange quite frankly. In a perfect world, the aim of criticism is to put yourself out of business. In other words, you want people to learn from your feedback. It shouldn’t be an exercise in tearing someone down for the fun of it. I think a lot of that commentary was really mean spirited and unnecessary.

  • Art Fag City

    I’m not a fan of that exchange quite frankly. In a perfect world, the aim of criticism is to put yourself out of business. In other words, you want people to learn from your feedback. It shouldn’t be an exercise in tearing someone down for the fun of it. I think a lot of that commentary was really mean spirited and unnecessary.

  • http://davidmcbride.net David

    Briefly want to say that I wasn’t looking for a formal explanation of Relational Wall. Even as a painter, I think trying to interpret it like that would miss the boat by a mile- and it also wouldn’t address my concerns with the work. It’s work that is very personality-driven, which is too much of the problem already. It’s troubling to consider who you think your audience is- or rather, and don’t take this personally, I don’t know you that well, but it’s troubling to think the work would have an audience.

    Ultimately, it seems like you want what the people in Relational Wall have, and you’re sort of doing the obvious thing to get it, which is to be a bit of a demagogue. There’s no reason to think you won’t get it, but I don’t think you’ll have succeeded in becoming a better artist than they are, on your own terms.

  • http://davidmcbride.net David

    Briefly want to say that I wasn’t looking for a formal explanation of Relational Wall. Even as a painter, I think trying to interpret it like that would miss the boat by a mile- and it also wouldn’t address my concerns with the work. It’s work that is very personality-driven, which is too much of the problem already. It’s troubling to consider who you think your audience is- or rather, and don’t take this personally, I don’t know you that well, but it’s troubling to think the work would have an audience.

    Ultimately, it seems like you want what the people in Relational Wall have, and you’re sort of doing the obvious thing to get it, which is to be a bit of a demagogue. There’s no reason to think you won’t get it, but I don’t think you’ll have succeeded in becoming a better artist than they are, on your own terms.

  • http://davidmcbride.net David

    Briefly want to say that I wasn’t looking for a formal explanation of Relational Wall. Even as a painter, I think trying to interpret it like that would miss the boat by a mile- and it also wouldn’t address my concerns with the work. It’s work that is very personality-driven, which is too much of the problem already. It’s troubling to consider who you think your audience is- or rather, and don’t take this personally, I don’t know you that well, but it’s troubling to think the work would have an audience.

    Ultimately, it seems like you want what the people in Relational Wall have, and you’re sort of doing the obvious thing to get it, which is to be a bit of a demagogue. There’s no reason to think you won’t get it, but I don’t think you’ll have succeeded in becoming a better artist than they are, on your own terms.

  • alikelove

    I agree that the exchange on the blog is harsh, but it does serve some purpose. The poster makes great points, and if it helps William realize he’s making work about real people with real feelings it is a success. I do hope William gets to the point in his life were he cares more about art (or something else meaningful) then the art world and I am sorry he was taken down in such public way.

  • alikelove

    I agree that the exchange on the blog is harsh, but it does serve some purpose. The poster makes great points, and if it helps William realize he’s making work about real people with real feelings it is a success. I do hope William gets to the point in his life were he cares more about art (or something else meaningful) then the art world and I am sorry he was taken down in such public way.

  • alikelove

    I agree that the exchange on the blog is harsh, but it does serve some purpose. The poster makes great points, and if it helps William realize he’s making work about real people with real feelings it is a success. I do hope William gets to the point in his life were he cares more about art (or something else meaningful) then the art world and I am sorry he was taken down in such public way.

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    David,

    I don’t take your criticism personally at all and I made the piece because the art world is so personality driven around the cult of the artist. That it seems that I am so transparent about wanting the same, I respectfully disagree because it’s not an all-or-nothing scenario. I’d certainly, at some point, like to show in a museum, but without dragging in a hand bag store. I’d love to be able to afford assistants, but not treat them like garbage. Finally, I don’t think I’d compare my practice with many of the other artist’s concerns; formally or conceptually (except Michael Scoggins..). I think being better than some of them would be the worst thing that I could do.

    Alikelove
    I’ve always hoped that someone would realize that the character, the voice of William Powhida, being a fictional character, could be assumed and re-directed at me or anyone else for that matter. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for it to happen considering how much ill-will much of my work has generated. It’s hard to tell when I’m feeding it or falling into it. That’s part of the performance. While I appreciate your notion that the work is about real people with real feelings, we all exhibit publicly, some much more in the media than others, and we put ourselves out there for criticism when we do it. If I thought I was any different I wouldn’t do this.

    I love your score card! Seriously, it’s better than “William Powhida is the Emelio Estevez of the art world ‘Yoo Hoo, I’ll make ya famous’ (which Billy the Kid utters in Young Guns Part 2 I believe) If the next show in LA works out, I’ll make sure I turn my attention to the fictional landscape of character.

    http://williampowhida.blogspot.com/2009/04/commenting-machine.html

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    David,

    I don’t take your criticism personally at all and I made the piece because the art world is so personality driven around the cult of the artist. That it seems that I am so transparent about wanting the same, I respectfully disagree because it’s not an all-or-nothing scenario. I’d certainly, at some point, like to show in a museum, but without dragging in a hand bag store. I’d love to be able to afford assistants, but not treat them like garbage. Finally, I don’t think I’d compare my practice with many of the other artist’s concerns; formally or conceptually (except Michael Scoggins..). I think being better than some of them would be the worst thing that I could do.

    Alikelove
    I’ve always hoped that someone would realize that the character, the voice of William Powhida, being a fictional character, could be assumed and re-directed at me or anyone else for that matter. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for it to happen considering how much ill-will much of my work has generated. It’s hard to tell when I’m feeding it or falling into it. That’s part of the performance. While I appreciate your notion that the work is about real people with real feelings, we all exhibit publicly, some much more in the media than others, and we put ourselves out there for criticism when we do it. If I thought I was any different I wouldn’t do this.

    I love your score card! Seriously, it’s better than “William Powhida is the Emelio Estevez of the art world ‘Yoo Hoo, I’ll make ya famous’ (which Billy the Kid utters in Young Guns Part 2 I believe) If the next show in LA works out, I’ll make sure I turn my attention to the fictional landscape of character.

    http://williampowhida.blogspot.com/2009/04/commenting-machine.html

  • alikelove

    Sorry William, I don’t buy it:
    “I’ve always hoped that someone would realize that the character, the voice of William Powhida, being a fictional character, could be assumed and re-directed at me or anyone else for that matter. ”

    Your not that famous. It’s just a trick to distance yourself when you want and take credit when you want. I don’t think you can switch back and forth between fiction William and real William whenever you feel like it. The poster on your blog has it right:
    “self awareness does not change a negative action.” That’s the only point I’ve scored so far on my chart. 0-1.

  • alikelove

    Sorry William, I don’t buy it:
    “I’ve always hoped that someone would realize that the character, the voice of William Powhida, being a fictional character, could be assumed and re-directed at me or anyone else for that matter. ”

    Your not that famous. It’s just a trick to distance yourself when you want and take credit when you want. I don’t think you can switch back and forth between fiction William and real William whenever you feel like it. The poster on your blog has it right:
    “self awareness does not change a negative action.” That’s the only point I’ve scored so far on my chart. 0-1.

  • alikelove

    Sorry William, I don’t buy it:
    “I’ve always hoped that someone would realize that the character, the voice of William Powhida, being a fictional character, could be assumed and re-directed at me or anyone else for that matter. ”

    Your not that famous. It’s just a trick to distance yourself when you want and take credit when you want. I don’t think you can switch back and forth between fiction William and real William whenever you feel like it. The poster on your blog has it right:
    “self awareness does not change a negative action.” That’s the only point I’ve scored so far on my chart. 0-1.

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    alikelove,

    You really don’t think I haven’t had that discussion before? When I made my short film, Powhida: A Study for Sofia Coppola’s Film, I cast a Belgian actor to play Powhida. The actor, Jan Leyssens, was eager to play the role at an opening at Momenta, but it coincided with a trip to Europe for him. Someone else assuming Powhida’s voice or inhabiting the character without my permission has always been a possibility. For my last show in Seattle, different bands covered Powhida’s music, that only ever existed as a title or a set of lyrics in a painting. It’s never been about being famous enough, but being willing to allow the fictional character to be authored by someone else. I find the social interaction, collaboration, and uncertainty to be one of the most interesting ways of working. It’s also work that rarely interests collectors, my authorship is uncertain, sometimes not even evident.

    The difference here, is that you in particular are assuming that the distance between myself and the character, or role, is non-existent or a thinly veiled attempt to shirk responsibility. I accept that criticism, yet I hope there is an opportunity to see the different ways the character has been represented in film, music, writing, and the drawings.

    No one aside from Paddy has really addressed the narrative text in the show, though she doesn’t care for the meta-narrative about getting locked up in a Thai prison cell forcing self-reflection on the ‘mutant toddler’ as Powhida has been described. The preoccupation has been with the absurd observations in the painting.

    Oh, your chart is the header for my blog now, seriously. I think it highlights the competition we are constantly engaged in, the fallacy of the autonomy of art. The disruption of perception and assuming any voice, even an anonymous one, or the character’s has become participation.

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    alikelove,

    You really don’t think I haven’t had that discussion before? When I made my short film, Powhida: A Study for Sofia Coppola’s Film, I cast a Belgian actor to play Powhida. The actor, Jan Leyssens, was eager to play the role at an opening at Momenta, but it coincided with a trip to Europe for him. Someone else assuming Powhida’s voice or inhabiting the character without my permission has always been a possibility. For my last show in Seattle, different bands covered Powhida’s music, that only ever existed as a title or a set of lyrics in a painting. It’s never been about being famous enough, but being willing to allow the fictional character to be authored by someone else. I find the social interaction, collaboration, and uncertainty to be one of the most interesting ways of working. It’s also work that rarely interests collectors, my authorship is uncertain, sometimes not even evident.

    The difference here, is that you in particular are assuming that the distance between myself and the character, or role, is non-existent or a thinly veiled attempt to shirk responsibility. I accept that criticism, yet I hope there is an opportunity to see the different ways the character has been represented in film, music, writing, and the drawings.

    No one aside from Paddy has really addressed the narrative text in the show, though she doesn’t care for the meta-narrative about getting locked up in a Thai prison cell forcing self-reflection on the ‘mutant toddler’ as Powhida has been described. The preoccupation has been with the absurd observations in the painting.

    Oh, your chart is the header for my blog now, seriously. I think it highlights the competition we are constantly engaged in, the fallacy of the autonomy of art. The disruption of perception and assuming any voice, even an anonymous one, or the character’s has become participation.

  • http://williampowhida.blogspot.com William

    alikelove,

    You really don’t think I haven’t had that discussion before? When I made my short film, Powhida: A Study for Sofia Coppola’s Film, I cast a Belgian actor to play Powhida. The actor, Jan Leyssens, was eager to play the role at an opening at Momenta, but it coincided with a trip to Europe for him. Someone else assuming Powhida’s voice or inhabiting the character without my permission has always been a possibility. For my last show in Seattle, different bands covered Powhida’s music, that only ever existed as a title or a set of lyrics in a painting. It’s never been about being famous enough, but being willing to allow the fictional character to be authored by someone else. I find the social interaction, collaboration, and uncertainty to be one of the most interesting ways of working. It’s also work that rarely interests collectors, my authorship is uncertain, sometimes not even evident.

    The difference here, is that you in particular are assuming that the distance between myself and the character, or role, is non-existent or a thinly veiled attempt to shirk responsibility. I accept that criticism, yet I hope there is an opportunity to see the different ways the character has been represented in film, music, writing, and the drawings.

    No one aside from Paddy has really addressed the narrative text in the show, though she doesn’t care for the meta-narrative about getting locked up in a Thai prison cell forcing self-reflection on the ‘mutant toddler’ as Powhida has been described. The preoccupation has been with the absurd observations in the painting.

    Oh, your chart is the header for my blog now, seriously. I think it highlights the competition we are constantly engaged in, the fallacy of the autonomy of art. The disruption of perception and assuming any voice, even an anonymous one, or the character’s has become participation.

  • alikelove

    Glad I made it to your header!

  • alikelove

    Glad I made it to your header!

  • alikelove

    Glad I made it to your header!

  • Kelli Williams

    I would have liked it if he fleshed out the back story about the Thai jail experience and the solicitation charge more in the work. Maybe sex reassignment surgery. Maybe some prison meals of fish sauce and gruel. Maybe bribery of government officials. But that might have been too Magical Realist.

  • Kelli Williams

    I would have liked it if he fleshed out the back story about the Thai jail experience and the solicitation charge more in the work. Maybe sex reassignment surgery. Maybe some prison meals of fish sauce and gruel. Maybe bribery of government officials. But that might have been too Magical Realist.

  • Kelli Williams

    I would have liked it if he fleshed out the back story about the Thai jail experience and the solicitation charge more in the work. Maybe sex reassignment surgery. Maybe some prison meals of fish sauce and gruel. Maybe bribery of government officials. But that might have been too Magical Realist.

  • Pingback: Chapter 5: EXCLUSIVE ASSASSINATION: Laura Gilbert, Artist, Counterfeiter, and Former Wall Street Dealer « The Art Assassin()

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