February 16, 2014

The art guy who fakely took credit for the fakery of "Dumb Starbucks."

Consider Marc Horowitz, who's getting his name promoted in a item by Emily Greenhouse in The New Yorker, after he slapped his name on another man's attention-getting stunt. (Here's where we discussed the comic Nathan Fielder, the Canadian comedian whose project Dumb Starbucks really is.)

Horowitz's history of art-foolery made his claim credible:
In 2005, when he was working as a photo assistant at Crate & Barrel, he snuck his phone number into the home-furnishing chain’s national catalogue with the message “Dinner w/ Marc.” Thirty thousand people called, and he spent the next year crossing the country in a small R.V., eating dinner with some of them. The project, known as “The National Dinner Tour,” made the rounds on local news and late-night television. Five years later, he was selected, from over nine thousand applicants, as one of AOL’s twenty-five “innovators and visionaries.” The judges, who included the director of the Whitney, awarded Horowitz a grant of twenty-five thousand-dollars for his “socially oriented projects and playful enterprises.” Days after he received the prize, Horowitz launched “The Advice of Strangers,” in which he relinquished control of his life to the public for one month, making daily decisions based on the results of Internet polls.
And then there's the comic arrogance of claiming — or as The New Yorker puts it "believ[ing]" — "that the art actually began when he claimed Dumb Starbucks as his own." He took credit "as part of a lecture on appropriation and hijacking, for the Internet-studio-art class that he teaches at the University of Southern California." He boasts about "steer[ing] the global media discussion." He "blurred authorship and caused confusion within the media hysteria."

Greenhouse pushed Horowitz "to demonstrate the magnitude of his most recent hoax," which I take it means that she said something like: Why is what you did worthy of a New Yorker piece, considering that it was perfectly easy to make the claim and its falsity became apparent almost immediately?

Greenhouse presents his answer with insufficient skepticism: "it quickly became clear that, for him, duping wasn’t exactly the point: what mattered was the unravelling." Why believe him?! Greenhouse is too much of a facilitator here.

I'd say: When I pointed out that his hoax didn't fool anyone for long enough to matter, Horowitz instantly rolled out a new claim: that his whole point was the unraveling. And I'd press further: How can it be interesting to watch the unraveling of something that was never even much of a sweater in the first place?

"My project is about social-media appropriation," Horowitz said, appropriating the New Yorker's writer to spread his propaganda. She transcribes his little art-class mini-lecture: "In art, there is an entire history of appropriation: from Picasso to Duchamp to Rauschenberg to Warhol to Richard Prince to Jeff Koons to Christian Marclay."

But the question was about the magnitude of the appropriation. To drop all those names is to point to the appropriators who pulled off big, memorable appropriations, not to establish that you belong in that group.

And yet you got The New Yorker to boost your name. That's the relevant appropriation here.

8 comments:

rhhardin said...

As you get older, as Althouse has said, the pleasure is in giving credit.

Shouting Thomas said...

Rent seeking masquerading as art.

Locating a government or foundation tit to suck on is just about all that university educated Americans do it seems.

Rent seeking explains so much nowadays, doesn't it?

Feminism
Gay activism
Black activism
Performance art
Global warming
Etc.

Old irrelevant white men are just about the only guys doing any actual productive work. No wonder everybody is pissed off at us. But, without us, who would the rent seeker leach off?

virgil xenophon said...

ST gets to the the heart of the matter. Only in times of unprecedented prosperity--the age of the leisure classes--can types like Horowitz exist. Hundreds of years ago types like Horowitz would either have starved in the cold due to being unable to support themselves by making themselves immediately economically useful to society or have been killed by angry mobs or pissed-off patrons who were the object of their scams..

Shouting Thomas said...

Dan Greenfield, over at Sultan Knish, publishes a great post this morning on the triumph of the rent seekers in New York City.

College is a distant memory for me, but I remember the major themes of Chinese imperial history. The Mandarin class bled the peasantry dry with rent seeking.

Same thing going on in the U.S. And, just as in China, the Mandarins were contemptuous of the productive class. I'll bet that part of that contempt was that the Mandarins considered themselves enlightened because they were enamored with homosexuality. Glamorizing homosexuality is always a major aspect of the values of the Mandarin class.

Sex for the utilitarian purpose of breeding marks one as a member of the stupid lower classes, in the same manner as productive work does.

The communists took it a step forward and waged genocidal war against the productive class.

David said...

One Born Every Minute, which is old news.

EDH said...

"He didn't build that."

mccullough said...

Whatever happened to the guy with the rainbow-fro wig and the John 3:16 sign who used to sit behind home plate during baseball playoff games?

R. Chatt said...

"Social media" is the buzzword of the age. Even if you are hopelessly unemployed, say you are in "social media" and you gain respectability. "Social media" gets monetized into advertising, that's the AOL model. Facebook too. Big money.