The City Deranged

Santa Feans like to call our town “The City Different.” Sometimes I think “The City Deranged” is more like it.

I 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, Entertainment and Culture (June 20-26), brings us still more pretentiousness, Santa Fe style. Or maybe it’s just a paragraph-length typo? I sort of hope so. It’s hard to tell.

The cover of the magazine shows bunches of plastic water bottles (empty, labels removed) hanging like bananas from streetlights, and against the backdrop of sunset sky the word “Out of SITE” are written in orange. Inside, in the table of contents, the following paragraph appears in the listing for the cover story about SITE:

three-x skewed-church porn yellow-tunnel entrance? people come with thoughts (grunts/whats?), follow serpentine forms into space what kind of geometry is this walls and inclined walk inclining here and there through and around art art art things international things people make who come and see santa fe in january. exotic paint, |aliens abduct a navajo, digital grave markers, antique flour mill, rap crowds at nothing, mongolian chef and recycled bottle art and superpower (cord) snaking along up on ceiling though. people see things. ideas charge around the place. fun names like luchezar und fabien y zbigniew. then finally you can jump softly off the edge with the blessings of an italian leapmeister. both offsite and onsite! more things to think and experience and lance fung the man of the show making this community of artmakers having fun and meaning all over the place.

I didn’t make that up, I swear, though I did have to type the whole thing because it does not appear anywhere on the magazine’s online version. Or at least I couldn’t find it. Sometimes finding things at the New Mexican‘s website can be tricky.

But back to the matter at hand: what WAS that? Now that I’ve read the whole story, I see that it makes reference to a number of the exhibits mentioned. But the presentation – all lowercase, mainly sentence fragments, odd bits of punctuation, etc., fairly screams, “Aren’t we hip? Aren’t we so much cooler and smarter than all you dummies who shop at Wal-Mart and aren’t sophisticated enough to understand our cutting-edge art? Aren’t we just as avant-garde as we can be, here in The City Different?” It seems to me just a pretentious exercise in postmodern verbal onanism, to adopt the Santa Fe artist’s vernacular.

Another thing about the story left me curious: why is SITE in all caps? Is it an acronym? I assumed so at first, but found no reference in the Pasatiempo story. So I looked for and found SITE’s website, but that didn’t give any clue either. The article also does not tell why the exhibit is called Lucky Number Seven. Instead, it quotes various people connected with the exhibit making affected statements about the artwork:

Curator Lance M. Fung says, “My work is me, and I’m my work. I’m not conceiving anything here. Lucky Number Seven is just an evolution of all my work and is an extension of me.”

Liza Statton, a Curatorial Fellow at SITE, writes in the exhibition catalog about the “interconnectivity between ideas, objects, time, and space” in one of the exhibits, and about the curator, “Through his weblike approach, Fung has created an exhibition that resists casual reductionism and the burdens of authorship.”

Wow. Sounds like one not to miss.

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