Post image for Business and Personal Accounts: Keep ’em Separated

There are a million meaningful reasons to operate an arts business, from creating revelatory art experiences for the public, to a commitment to a tradition, to the love of making hand-crafted objects. But at the end of the day, if it is a business (and not, say, a non-profit), a major purpose is to make money to pay for the expenses of living. And if the purpose of the businesses’ earnings is to pay for our personal expenses, why then is it so important to keep the business financial transactions separate from our personal ones?

The reasons are simple. It protects you from tax trouble and legal trouble. And it’s the law.

Post image for This Week’s Must-See Art Events: Artists Take Over Your Landline

Every summer there’s a gallery that finds an occasion to launch a cat show, and this season is no different. Start the week off at Con Artist Collective, which will host a show demonstrating artists love for kitties. Consider that show a warm up for what’s to come. Thursday in Gowanus, we’ll see what happens when artists are given access to a treasure trove discarded electronics. We can’t wait. On Friday, head out to this week’s latest artist zine festival and wrap the week up Sunday with the 25 anniversary of Queens Pride at the Queens Museum. It’s a one day pop-up exhibition looking at the history of the event and bound to be both informative and joyful.

Post image for Documenta 14: Learning From Athens, Learning From Crisis

You don’t need to go to Kassel, Germany to know that the world seems on shaky ground. But this year’s documenta exhibition, “Learning From Athens,” nails home that idea, nonetheless. That’s quite intentional, given that documenta 14 artistic director Adam Szymczyk, along with a team of more than a dozen curators, chose to stake out a markedly “political” point of view. Though the word “political” can refer to pretty much anything or nothing when it comes to curation, Szymczyk and team have carved out a specific focus: the local is the global. And right now, documenta envisions that the world is in need of being rebuilt entirely—from the ground up.

Post image for An Interview with Aleks Slota: Language is a Shell Game

Years ago, if you read Derrida, Lacan and their fellow travelers and then came to the conclusion that language is inherently unreliable, you were considered at best pretentious and at worst mentally ill. Here, for instance, is Lacan on one of the various, maddeningly indirect ways in which words acquire meaning, or a lack thereof: “… insofar as it forms part of language, the signifier is a sign which refers to another sign, which is as such structured to signify the absence of another sign …”. Um, yeah, exactly. Language is a shell game.

Now, in the post-truth era, all that giddy philosophizing (presented in a style as nutty as the ideas it proffered) suddenly rings true. Hell, it clangs. The relationship between words and their assigned meaning(s), never all that comfortable in the first place, now strikes us as illusory, if not deceitful. You can’t trust your own reading glasses.

Multimedia artist Aleks Slota’s latest works ask a further question: if all of the above is true, how can you trust an artist?

A Berlin-based Polish-American, Slota has built a career out of being, in the larger and best sense of the modifier (signifier?) an irritant, or “irritainer” as the Canadian artist Andrew Harwood coined; an artist who puts his audience’s his own comfort aside in pursuit of new, less easy revelations. His performances typically involve acts of endurance, for both artist and witness, and no end of noise.

But in his latest projects are markedly more pensive. We met for a chat at Berlin’s Ex Girlfriend Gallery on the final day of his understated exhibition of text works It Happened Here. And a few weeks before our get together, Slota presented Meat Puppet at the Berlin literary centre Lettretage – a concise performance wherein he attempted to verbalize into sense a word salad derived from President Trump’s barking. Better him than us.

Slota’s new works acknowledge the simple fact that we are all part of the now-heightened language/meaning problem, because unless you’re a hermit you too are contributing to the constant cross-talk and, by extension, the reduction of words to mere noise. There is no getting away from the collapse of the familiar formula of words = distinct (or at least agreed upon) meaning. We burned that barn down. Nor is it useful to simply blame this slippery slope on Trump and his imitators and not acknowledge our own complicity. Slota wants us, instead, to own the chaos.