Calling a trowel a spade

Santa Fe is home to a lot of artists, and while many of those artists are incredibly talented and produce works of great beauty and originality, there is a fair bit of pretentious drivel masquerading as art as well.

The local paper ran a story the other day about Australian artist Nick Mangas who has created a fake archaeological dig called A-1 Southwest Stone in a building that is currently unoccupied but used to house a business called A-1 Southwest Stone. So what’s the point of the exhibit? In the artist’s words, “The whole of Santa Fe is this sort of blurred line between fiction and reality in terms of its architecture and its style.” It is? How so? There are centuries-old pueblo-style buildings here, and new buildings that copy the ancient model in modern materials, but isn’t that true anywhere? He continues: “I kind of built this idea that this company was actually plundering a ruin and selling that as a product. … It very much fits into this idea of the myth of Santa Fe.”

But what is the myth of Santa Fe? Mangas never explains, nor does the reporter covering the fake dig apparently ask. Instead, he just lets this pretentious young Australian blather on in his semi-comprehensible way: “I’m actually excavating a fiction or a narrative,” he said. “I took the existing building’s title and used that as sort of an agent for describing Santa Fe’s culture … and how that sort of vernacular is being appropriated by this sort of romantic regionalism.”

Some people say that by being a SAHM instead of being employed in academia, I’m letting my PhD gather dust, wasting it. Maybe so, but I still love having it. Why? When pretentious people say asinine things, I can reply, “What on God’s green earth are you talking about???” without being accused of being too stupid or unsophisticated to understand. Those three little letters have given me the freedom to call a lot of spades spades.

And this “excavation of a narrative” nonsense is really just that – in spades.

Comments 1

  1. Melissa wrote:

    Great thoughts on this, Brigette. I, too, read this in the paper and thought it was ridiculous! Myth of Santa Fe….as if the reality lacks interest and controversy. He’s not even from the U.S.!

    Posted 27 Jun 2008 at 2:52 pm

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  1. From Moralia - The City Deranged on 28 Jun 2008 at 5:15 pm

    […] posted the other day about the fake archeological dig that’s supposed to be art. Now Pasatiempo, The New Mexican’s Weekly Magazine of Arts, […]

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