Matthew Stadler - Red76 - Jeff Jahn

LeisureArts missed this whole debate due to a problem in comment notification on this blog. What is striking about Jahn's "defense" of Red76, particularly their engagement with art history, is that he cites Duchamp as "the prototype for Red 76's activities" while he simultaneously offers their "public declaration is a clear statement of intent." He is referring to their Free Art History project in which they use the bulletin board flyer model to "educate" the public about art history. This is supposed to be his "gotcha" moment in setting the record straight on Red76. The irony here is that Duchamp, in his talk The Creative Act, problematizes the whole notion of an artist's intention with regard to what a work means and how it is judged by posterity. He speaks of an "art coefficient:"

"...the personal 'art coefficient' is like an arithmetical relation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed." [emphasis mine]

This unintentional expression exists quite independently of an artist, or of their defenders. Of course, Barthes, and Foucault also provide solid theoretical counterpoints for Jahn's decrying that he wishes to "resist turning artists into a kind of ventriloquist act." Stadler's "ventriloquism" is really an enactment of Duchamp's analysis, something Jahn should be happy about given his interpretation of Red76 as an extension of Dada/Duchamp. Again, Duchamp says:

"...the artist...will have to wait for the verdict of the spectator in order that declarations take a social value and that, finally, posterity includes him [sic] in the primers of Art History."

or:

"...the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world...and thus adds his [sic] contribution to the creative act."

So when Stadler says, "They do their work — they make the art — and I do mine, which is writing." He is just the sort of ventriloquist Duchamp says creates Art History.