Flavorwire Cultural Coverage Takes a Turn for the Worse

by Art Fag City on September 9, 2009 · 20 comments Newswire

POST BY PADDY JOHNSON

Gavin Turk, Brillo Box 5, 2003

If Flavorpill can produce strong reviews — Chris Diken on Urs Fischer and Gavin Brown’s Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns amongst them — why does their blog so frequently botch art features? Two weeks ago, the fact that artist Gavin Turk’s Brillo 5 (2003) may sell for as much as $30,000 at Christie’s auction (September 23) prompted an art-hate post detailing the worth of other cardboard boxes around the city, pontificating on their cultural importance. I’m all for debunking art myths and pomposity, but failure to consider the original object won’t achieve this. No mention of the fact that the Turk’s piece is actually a trompe l’oeil-like bronze reproduction of a cardboard box is found in their write up, a critical point to understanding the work. This doesn’t make the work that much better, mind you — mimicking a cheap material with an expensive one and needless labor don’t give a viewer that much to think about — but that doesn’t mean the approach to discussing the work should be aimless shots at art speak. After all, it’s not like their quoted Christie’s box description was so impenetrable. It only reads, “an ironic and ambiguous work that is essentially a copy of a cardboard box.” Although unspecified in the quote, Turk’s box obviously references pop artist Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes, which silk-screened the company’s logo onto an identically sized block of wood. This reference is a transparent strategy to bring new light to the ready made, though at this stage in the game we’re inclined to think that wholly unnecessary.

Since publishing this article, the blog has tackled a number of hard hitting arts issues, in particular the photograph of Sean Lennon we discussed yesterday. To address this matter, they presented an infantile multiple choice quiz polling reader response to the picture. Choices included, “A disgrace to Lennon’s memory,” “I rather like it, an appropriate tribute,” and “This made my day.” Given that this was part of a regular segment feature titled “Daily Poll,” it’s probably unfair to ask for much substance here, but I would argue that the image was misplaced to begin with.

art fag city, miru kim
Miru Kim, From the series, “Naked City Spleen”

On the same day Flavorwire ran their Lennon quiz, they also featured an article by artkrush’s Paul Laster, who frequently has a line on the best up and coming artists, detailing Miru Kim’s cliché-ridden photography. Kim has become something of an Internet art celebrity for work in which she removes her clothes in public places none of us would want to be naked in. While some of the backgrounds in her pictures admittedly look good, the work is about as conceptually rigorous as a nude MTA subway tour. Notably, in Miru Kim’s discussion of her artistic practice at TED she describes making the decision to model herself without clothes because she wanted to be without the stamp of time or “cultural implications.” There’s nothing wrong with the desire, but it willfully disregards a long history of the nude in Western art making. Surely that’s a cultural reference the rest of us won’t be able to ignore.

  • Kym

    How about disregarding a “long history” of SPELLCHECK in modern blogging/online journalism? Did the author even re-read what was written?!

    “One the same day they ran the blog ran their Lennon quiz…” “stratedgy” “silkedscreened”

    Please! I will take the cultural critiques of Flavorwire any day over this sloppy rebuttal.

    How does this author even have a blogging gig?

    Miru Kim is cliche? As a person who knows virtually nothing about art, I know that referencing Andy Warhol is automatically cliche. However, this impression could stem from the fact that I live in Pittsburgh and he’s overdone here. Oh wait, I’m pretty sure they sell mass-produced lunchboxes and purses with Campbells Soup cans circa Andy Warhol all over the globe.

    I certainly hope the folks you were so quick to pick on take the time to construct a proper and well-written response.

  • Kym

    How about disregarding a “long history” of SPELLCHECK in modern blogging/online journalism? Did the author even re-read what was written?!

    “One the same day they ran the blog ran their Lennon quiz…” “stratedgy” “silkedscreened”

    Please! I will take the cultural critiques of Flavorwire any day over this sloppy rebuttal.

    How does this author even have a blogging gig?

    Miru Kim is cliche? As a person who knows virtually nothing about art, I know that referencing Andy Warhol is automatically cliche. However, this impression could stem from the fact that I live in Pittsburgh and he’s overdone here. Oh wait, I’m pretty sure they sell mass-produced lunchboxes and purses with Campbells Soup cans circa Andy Warhol all over the globe.

    I certainly hope the folks you were so quick to pick on take the time to construct a proper and well-written response.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Thanks for the spell check Kym, though anybody who comes to this blog for clean copy will likely end up elsewhere shortly. Certainly, it’s not the indication you seem to suggest it is as far as lack of thoughtfulness goes.

    In any event, if you reread the piece, you’ll see I don’t care for Turk’s work much either. I think it deserves more thought than flavorwire gave it though — which was hateful feedback as opposed to productive. And yes, I’ll take Turk’s Brillo box over the post-apocalyptic sci-fi mastery of Miru Kim.

    If you wish to have comments approved in the future you need to refrain from personal attacks. No one benefits from statements such as “How does this author even have a blogging gig?”

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Thanks for the spell check Kym, though anybody who comes to this blog for clean copy will likely end up elsewhere shortly. Certainly, it’s not the indication you seem to suggest it is as far as lack of thoughtfulness goes.

    In any event, if you reread the piece, you’ll see I don’t care for Turk’s work much either. I think it deserves more thought than flavorwire gave it though — which was hateful feedback as opposed to productive. And yes, I’ll take Turk’s Brillo box over the post-apocalyptic sci-fi mastery of Miru Kim.

    If you wish to have comments approved in the future you need to refrain from personal attacks. No one benefits from statements such as “How does this author even have a blogging gig?”

  • http://ghostfuk3r.com ghostfuk3r

    note to self: cultural critiques only valid when spell-checked.

    Good to know.

  • http://ghostfuk3r.com ghostfuk3r

    note to self: cultural critiques only valid when spell-checked.

    Good to know.

  • Sara

    Honestly, this “critique” seems a little below Art Fag City. Calling a blog out in one ranty post just makes the site seem like an annoyed online forum.

    I do agree that the tidbit about the box being made of bronze was an important detail to have before making fun of it. However, I read that post (expecting some unfounded and lame criticism) and discovered something that was clearly meant to be taken as a joke. Those descriptions were hilarious. I didn’t know Art Fag was so stuffy.

    And really – what difference does it make if it’s inspired by Andy Warhol’s work and is made of bronze? It still looks like a stupid box.

  • Sara

    Honestly, this “critique” seems a little below Art Fag City. Calling a blog out in one ranty post just makes the site seem like an annoyed online forum.

    I do agree that the tidbit about the box being made of bronze was an important detail to have before making fun of it. However, I read that post (expecting some unfounded and lame criticism) and discovered something that was clearly meant to be taken as a joke. Those descriptions were hilarious. I didn’t know Art Fag was so stuffy.

    And really – what difference does it make if it’s inspired by Andy Warhol’s work and is made of bronze? It still looks like a stupid box.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    While there have been articles that have appeared on this site I think could be criticized for that, I really don’t think this post is one of them. I agree however that it might have helped to have stated explicitly that the article was a joke if for no other reason than it failed. I didn’t find those captions funny because the structure begins with the unstated premise that $30,000 for the brillo box is too much.

    Bugle 7, $31,000
    Bold, overarching statements often fall flat on their face. This is not one of them: Bugle 7 is the most underrated box of our generation. Mercilessly strapped to the edge of a bicycle, Bugle 7 effortlessly depicts the humanity of mankind. Just as the box is bound by a bungee chord, we, too, are bound by the bungee chord of mortality. This work of art is humility incarnate.

    Um, okay. That’s sort of funny, in a trying to be funny kind of way.

    Anyway, the fact that it’s made of bronze does make a difference — it effects its price — and just because it still looks like a stupid box doesn’t mean the Warhol reference isn’t relevant. It’s important to acknowledge what the art is trying to do if you want the feedback explaining why it failed to be effective.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    While there have been articles that have appeared on this site I think could be criticized for that, I really don’t think this post is one of them. I agree however that it might have helped to have stated explicitly that the article was a joke if for no other reason than it failed. I didn’t find those captions funny because the structure begins with the unstated premise that $30,000 for the brillo box is too much.

    Bugle 7, $31,000
    Bold, overarching statements often fall flat on their face. This is not one of them: Bugle 7 is the most underrated box of our generation. Mercilessly strapped to the edge of a bicycle, Bugle 7 effortlessly depicts the humanity of mankind. Just as the box is bound by a bungee chord, we, too, are bound by the bungee chord of mortality. This work of art is humility incarnate.

    Um, okay. That’s sort of funny, in a trying to be funny kind of way.

    Anyway, the fact that it’s made of bronze does make a difference — it effects its price — and just because it still looks like a stupid box doesn’t mean the Warhol reference isn’t relevant. It’s important to acknowledge what the art is trying to do if you want the feedback explaining why it failed to be effective.

  • http://www.brianryden.com Brain

    I thought the best part of AFC was the informal, honest, and opinionated critiques. That’s why I read it. Isn’t photographing yourself naked on some “don’t” list of bad photography?

  • http://www.brianryden.com Brain

    I thought the best part of AFC was the informal, honest, and opinionated critiques. That’s why I read it. Isn’t photographing yourself naked on some “don’t” list of bad photography?

  • ak

    i found this to be a thoughtful post. something thoughtful which elicits defensive remarks–especially ones with lame ad hominem arguments (in this case, ad hominem hypotheticals), hinged around spelling mistakes–generally a sign of a good post. i’ve said it before, but worth repeating. imho.

  • ak

    i found this to be a thoughtful post. something thoughtful which elicits defensive remarks–especially ones with lame ad hominem arguments (in this case, ad hominem hypotheticals), hinged around spelling mistakes–generally a sign of a good post. i’ve said it before, but worth repeating. imho.

  • mike

    Miru Kim’s work looks like something a friendless Ryan McGinley would produce.

  • mike

    Miru Kim’s work looks like something a friendless Ryan McGinley would produce.

  • Richard

    Turns out that Flavorwire turned next to a post about Ryan McGinley.

  • Richard

    Turns out that Flavorwire turned next to a post about Ryan McGinley.

  • Richard

    Turns out that Flavorwire turned next to a post about Ryan McGinley.

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