Sunday, November 10, 2019

Judy Chicago's Dinner Party at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Wing - Research

Judy Chicago's Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art
For historical photos, visit Chicago's site: Artist Link and for overview, the Brooklyn Museum's site: Museum Link.

Elizabeth Sackler is a philanthropist and activist who has worked on behalf of Native American and prison populations.
She was the first woman Chairman of the Brooklyn Museum's Board of Trustees. Though a Sackler she has no affiliation with the scandal surrounding other family members. 
Judy Chicago, like Sackler, grew up in a liberal family in Chicago, IL.  Her father suffered for his progressive beliefs in the McCarthy era, dying young. Encouraged by her mother, Chicago made art from the time she was three and later attended UCLA and SAIC. As a graduate student, she painted vaginal forms. (all this from Wikipedia)

It gets really interesting here: "Chicago would also experiment with performance art, using fireworks and pyrotechnics to create "atmospheres", which involved flashes of coloured smoke being manipulated outdoors. Through this work she attempted to "feminize" and "soften" the landscape.[16](Levin)
From Wikipedia: "Judy Chicago became aware of the sexism that was rampant in modern art institutions, museums, and schools while getting her undergraduate and graduate degree at UCLA in the 1960s. Ironically, she didn’t challenge this observation as an undergrad. In fact, she did quite the opposite by trying to match – both in her artwork and in her personal style –  what she thought of as masculinity in the artistic styles and habits of her male counterparts. Not only did she begin to work with heavy industrial materials, but she also smoked cigars, dressed “masculine”, and attended motorcycle shows.[49] This awareness continued to grow as she recognized how society did not see women as professional artists in the same way they recognized men. Angered by this, Chicago channeled this energy and used it to strengthen her feminist values as a person and teacher."

"While most teachers based their lessons on technique, visual forms, and color, the foundation for Chicago’s teachings were on the content and social significance of the art, especially in feminism.[50}(keifer-boyd, karen)"

"The art created in the Feminist Art Program and Womanhouse introduced perspectives and content about women’s lives that had been taboo topics in society, including the art world.[53][54] In 1970 Chicago developed the Feminist Art Program at California State University, Fresno, and has implemented other teaching projects that conclude with an art exhibition by students such as Womanhouse with Miriam Schapiro at CalArts...", which Cal Arts students Mira Schor, Faith Wilding and others participated in, and I grew up highly aware of as a student in LA.
Also really interesting: "In the early 2000s, Chicago organized her teaching style into three parts preparation, process, and art-making.[50] Each has a specific purpose and is crucial. During the preparation phase, students identify a deep personal concern and then research that issue. In the process phase, students gather together in a group to discuss the materials they plan on using and the content of their work. Finally, in the art-making phase, students find materials, sketch, critique, and produce art."

Having taught, now working independently, I see how the guild model, then the university system brought artists together, and organized them. Such systems make dialog and projects like the Dinner Party possible. Art centers also serve this purpose.
"Inspiration for The Dinner Party came from personal experience where Chicago found herself at a male dominated event. This event included highly educated men and women, however the men dominated the conversation and essence of the space. Chicago highlights important women that are often overlooked, giving credit to those who have stepped up for women's rights."
 Alice Walker was quoted in Hyperallergic as commenting, "Alice Walker, the author of “The Color Purple” and architect of the term “womanist,” was one of earlier critics of “The Dinner Party’s” racial dynamic, saying:
I was gratified … to learn that in the “Dinner Party” there was a place “set,” as it were, for black women. The illumination came when I stood in front of it. All the other plates are creatively imagined vaginas … The Sojourner Truth plate is the only one in the collection that shows-instead of a vagina — a face. In fact, three faces. … It occurred to me that perhaps white women feminists, no less than white women generally, cannot imagine that black women have vaginas."
"Chicago ... took action to teach women about their history. This action would become Chicago's masterpieceThe Dinner Party, now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.[29] It took her five years and cost about $250,000 to complete.[10] First, Chicago conceived the project in her Santa Monica studio: a large triangle, which measures 48-feet by 43-feet by 36-feet, consisting of 39 place settings.[17] Each place setting commemorates a historical or mythical female figure, such as artists, goddesses, activists and martyrs. The embroidered table runners are stitched in the style and technique of the woman's time.[30] "

Responding to criticisms of this work, Judy Chicago comments, "“At the time I was working on The Dinner Party, in the mid-1970s, there was little or no knowledge about any of these women. The prevailing point of view was that women had no history. It is important to remember that our research was done before the advent of computers, the Internet, or Google search.” (Hyperallergic)

The Hyperallergic article alludes to an exchange between Chicago and Esther Allen in 2018, published in the New York Review of Books: NYRB Link

Allen wrote, "Chicago contends that there was little or no knowledge about these women here in 1974–1979, while The Dinner Party was being created. That is debatable. To take only one case, Frida Kahlo: 1910–1954, the first solo retrospective of Kahlo’s work in this country, curated by Hayden Herrera, opened to acclaim in 1978 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago." (I recall seeing Kahlo's retrospective at UCSD in 1977.) Perhaps the best conclusion is Chicago's: "How unfortunate that women continue to feel the need to denigrate the work of their foremothers in order to acknowledge more contemporary contributions. We need to build upon each other’s achievements if we are ever to break the cycle of erasure that I tried to overcome through The Dinner Party." 

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Anne Swartz's FB Documentation of “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985" at MOCA Grand Ave., LA

Anne Swartz has been documenting With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985" at MOCA Grand St., LA, on her Facebook page. After its LA run, the survey exhibition travels to Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College in June 2020 to assuage eager East Coasters. Anne Swartz kindly granted permission to share her posts on individual artists in the show, which document thoughts and ideas she wants to store or develop. There will be subsequent posts as her feed continues. Her direct feed is here:  Anne Swartz Facebook Feed

We begin with Swartz's most recent post on this exhibition featuring Dee Shapiro's Rotunda I, 1980, about which Swartz observes, "This intricate painting shows the artist’s intense investigation with patterning, influenced by mathematics, nature, and weaving. Her method involves extreme precision. She was connected to Pattern Painting and to the Criss-Cross Collective, as well as being centrally involved in NY Feminist Art activity of the 1970s. Her work deserves more widespread attention and recognition."
Dee Shapiro

Dee Shapiro Detail
And here I quote Robert Zakanitch, “what a great painting that is!” Vivacious composition and fun colors, beautiful rendering and immediately appealing scenario, this painting takes you from the large, sweet faces of the faeries poking out around the flora, down to the playful little pom-poms along the edge. It’s unexpected and thoroughly entrancing. Robert Kushner, Faeries, 1980 in “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985”.
Early Robert Kushner

What a fresh face! Like Miami Art Deco meets domestic textiles, such a great painting. Robert Zakanitch, Angel Feet, 1978 in “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985”.

Robert Zakanitch
Zakanitch Detail

The seeming endless variety of stitches are like decorative friezes or bands. Up at @moca is Jane Kaufman’s Embroidered, Beaded Crazy Quilt of 1983-85 and on the cover of the “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985”. Jane Kaufman, like all the P&D artists, was heavily influenced by past examples of quilts (among other forms) and wanted to honor those traditions. Jane was heavily involved in 1970s-90s NY feminist art activity, which informed her practice. At its center, the oeuvre recalls anonymous women's work. Quilts became the hot commodity with feminism, but also remember the Whitney had the Abstract Design in American Quilts show in 1972, signaling a shift in the recognition of craft practices, which P&D artists wanted. Marcia Tucker included this quilt as a bed covering in her 1996 Labor of Love show at the New Museum. It's difficult to see examples of Kaufman's work, unfortunately. She made screens out of peacock feathers (an ode to Victoriana, esp Whistler's Peacock Room, a major influence on several of the artists) and pearls (an example of her tribute to and love of Rene Lalique). 

Jane Kaufman, this detail taken by LA-based artist, Sarajo Frieden (Artist Link)

Jane Kaufman

Joyce Kozloff, Striped Cathedral, 1977, 72 x 180 inches (skewed angle b/c too many people in the gallery) Here’s the idea of travel as an image and painted manifestation of progressing in space. Special opportunity to see this painting in “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985”.

Joyce Kozloff

Miriam Schapiro, detail of the Seraglio In Miriam Schapiro with Sherry Brody, The Dollhouse, 1972, originally installed in Womanhouse, only surviving part of temporary installation by Miriam Schapiro, @judy.chicago, and their students at the CalArts Feminist Art Program on exhibit in @annanotana “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-85”. Glad it is in the show, signals this movement originated in Feminist Art. Pastiche and appropriation as a way to connect to the greater world at a time when that was verboten. 

Miriam Schapiro, et alia - CalArts Feminist Program




In “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1975-1985,” Brad Davis’s Rabbit + Two Dogs = Desire of 1979, Top of the Peak of 1980, and Bird & Lotus Tondo #4 of 1979 showcase his spirited meditation on Persian miniatures and Chinese painting, esp ceramics. He was combining many sources but one in particular is fascinating, Shahnama (The Book of Kings) since across the street from @moca @thebroadmuseum has @shirin__neshat series which include her use of the text and image in her photographs (her copy is on view). I can’t look at his paintings now without seeing Pierre Bonnard. He told me how he and his wife @janisprovisor (the renowned painter) went to the Tate show last spring and just stood before canvases asking “how did he do that?” They would look separately and together, marveling at his colors and compositions. This exhibition will prompt many artists to think about figuration in concert with ornament and decoration. 


Brad Davis

Brad Davis

Brad Davis installation

Brad Davis

Inspired inclusion by @annanotana of Sylvia Sleigh’s Turkish Bath of 1973 in “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration 1972-1985”. There because the cast of characters includes Lawrence Alloway, (reclining in the foreground), the artist’s husband and a critic and curator; John Perrault (center seated with beard), who curated and wrote about P&D back in the day; Carter Ratliff (seated in back), who also wrote about P&D and ornament during the era; and Scott Burton kneeling. Parenthetically “embracing” the composition, she included the double portrait of one of her favorite models, Paul Rosano. Several things drew me into its presence in the show: how it points at the romanticism and sentimentality in P&D’s revisionism; the revision of her historical source, Ingres’s Turkish Bath, 1862, with male subjects to show she could take on art history; as a corollary to all the other redefinitions of Art History in P&D; her love of patterning and all the ways she employed it; the pleasureful aspects, esp her love of showcasing the nude (she loved Playgirl for poses); the visual culture of the era, like the textiles and interior; and her devotion to her Pre-Raphaelite sources for their colors, subjects, and surface activity. Much to think about there. 

Sylvia Sleigh, Detail, Turkish Bath

Sylvia Sleigh

Sylvia Sleigh

Sylvia Sleigh, Turkish Bath
Another reason to go see “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985” are @smythned sculptures and the way he created such intense contrast between the decorative mosaics and the smooth architectonic bases. These photos do not do the pieces justice. Based on his life going back and forth to Italy, the son of an important Renaissance art historian, he mixed Ancient and Byzantine surfaces, and more. The next image is “The Garden,” his sculptural 1977 collaborative with @bradleyddavis (paintings)—a contemporary take on the pleasure garden. Speaks to Holly Solomon’s support for the movement (it was in her gallery). I also include images of The Upper Room, 1987 in Battery Park City with the detail of the Tree of Life centerpiece there to show one example of his public art and where some of these shapes, surfaces, and forms would culminate. 


Ned Smyth and Brad Davis at Holly Solomon Gallery

Ned Smyth, Battery Park City

Ned Smyth, MOCA LA

Ned Smyth, MOCA LA

Thank you, Anne Swartz, for the selection and overview of the Pattern and Decoration artists at MOCA LA and in June 2020 Bard's Hessel Museum in "With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985". Pattern and Decoration was a major movement when I came of age at UCLA, and resonates more than ever now with the feminist underpinnings you point out, as well as its collaborative emphasis, global inspiration, and reconsideration of timeless structures.



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Interrogation and its Discontents: Rethinking the Language Around Art - Panel Discussion at CUE Foundation


INTERROGATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS: Rethinking the Language Around Art
was a panel discussion with Mira Dayal, Tom McGlynn, and Seph Rodney, mderated by Taney Roniger on Saturday, October 26, 2019, 5-7pm at the Cue Foundation. Roninger promises further discussion, so stay tuned on her Facebook page. She writes, 

"With the rise of hybrid practices, interdisciplinary collaborations, and various modes of art as social engagement, the language in which visual art is framed has become increasingly didactic. Today we’ve come to expect every press release and artist’s statement to offer a litany of ideas that the work purportedly “advances,” as if visual art were nothing more than a vehicle for discursive content. Riddled with the turgid prose of academic dissertations, these texts often seem intent on explainingthe work – and, obligatorily, its relevance to the larger culture. But as visual art becomes ever-more discursive, there is a growing concern among many that something is being lost, that despite whatever cultural capital the rhetoric might seem to grant it, visual art is losing sight of its very reason for being.

With this panel we will have an honest discussion about the ways in which current art language has affected our field and what artists in particular might do to initiate a change. With an eye toward promoting a more subtle approach, we will discuss what constitutes good art writing and what the latter can (and cannot) achieve. Audience members will be encouraged to offer thoughts and suggestions in an extended question-and-answer session after the panelists’ presentations."

To further ground the discussion, a previous essay by Roninger is  here: Stop the Interrogation: A Modest Proposal for a More Modest Art


What came up in this presentation was a shocked awareness how caught up we are in a culture industry that  shapes the way we speak, think, even make. Each panelist, most successful, working artists and all experienced, published writers, delivered thoughtful, considered presentations. Dayal's embodied instructions invited artists to engage their work for purposes of more direct writing, a presentation worthy of a separate workshop. Rodney spoke of the class issues imbedded in artistic aims and writing reflecting a complicity borne of desire  to belong in the art world. Tom McGlynn mused on the benefits of disinterest allowing discourse to flourish free from dogma or earnestness.  His paper, published below, demonstrates the quality of discussion that night. Many thanks to all for a great discussion. 

Dissembling Disinterest: Writing on Art, Cultural Confinement, and Poetic Fugitivity”
By Tom McGlynn
Delivered on the occasion of the panel: “Interrogation and its Discontents”
Organized by Taney Roniger at the Cue Art Foundation, NYC. With Mira Dayal and Seph Rodney. October 26, 2019

     If what is at issue here is the current knee-jerk use of art jargon that engenders a despair at generating any real communication and workable content, then I think it important to first break down exactly how things got to this point of “dis-content”. Earlier philosophical and aesthetic writing could assume a certain shared understanding of 18thcentury Enlightenment principles of reason. Vis, there was assumed a certain mechanical “fit” between aesthetic understanding and critical inquiry that elaborated on such, thereby extending both a discourse and a sense of logical decorumfrom which to derive critical judgment. Immanuel Kant, one of the foremost philosophers of the Enlightenment, proposed that the aesthetic sense derived from afaculty of disinterested judgment. Such disinterest can be posited as a decorum for common ground, or an prior agreement that human intuition is independent from objective reality. Kant’s notion of disinterest actually honors the independent nature of objective reality at the same time it implies that human opinion can similarly remain independent.  Critiques of this Kantian method of determining independent judgment might say that this disinterest and inter- independence is itself the conceit of a transcendental will. Critics of Enlightenment reason (and its philosophical progeny) can aptly point to its origins in bourgeois European “men of letters” and all of the exceptionalism and privilege that that implies, yet there is a truth to the notion that a “disinterested reason” might be able to maintain a modicum of independent judgment in a capricious, ever- changing (art) world of “taste”. What’s important is not that this notion of disinterested judgment is fixed like some sort of immutable template, (and certainly not a rigid self-entitled disinterest), as much as it allows for a shared agreement to suspend pre-conceptions of criteria of judgment and taste and therefore allow for a free play of signification and mutability of meaning.

Aesthetic Judgment and the Power of Poetic Indeterminacy

“The term of information, which assumes a kind of objective truth, entails the exhaustion of the forms of metamorphosis, whereas writing is on the contrary one of the places where there is always something that escapes you” Jean Baudrillard, 1994 interview with French press.

“Ambiguity is not dangerous in itself. It does not change the principles of identity and equivalence in the slightest, nor does it change the principle of meaning as value; it merely produces floating values, renders identities diffuse, and makes the rules of the referential game more complex, without abolishing anything.” - Baudrillard,Symbolic Exchange and Death, Sage Publications Limited , London, 2017.  p 216

“Aesthetics, (that) most faithless of the sciences” Søren KierkegaardFear and Trembling, p 123
Penguin Publishing, London, New York ,1985.

Addressing the problems with current art writing from a critical writing perspective has its obvious pitfalls. Literary criticism has related challenges. One has to gingerly put themselves simultaneously in the place of the reader as well as the writer. One way to do this is to establish, from the start, that the genre of art writing is a distinct genre and not necessarily meant tosimply transfer “aesthetic information”Clarity of concept and vision, in other words, doesn’t necessarily equate with a normative facility of style in art writing. The distinct genre of the best art writing historically is often cultivated by an indirect and indeterminate reason. This intention is one of poetic indeterminacy. The writer on art can cultivate a kind of half-attention (clearing their self-consciousness away) in order to make room for a more attentive “listening” to what the work of art (or artist) has to present or to say. Meaning in their critique is therefore derived from a certain disinterested perspective. The writer can then creatively respond from a place of poetic indeterminacy, a place where they can eavesdrop on the artist’s own thinking by adopting an indeterminate identity of their own. In effect the writer agrees to enter into a game of sliding signification with the artwork or artist in which the outcome is not a summary win, but a creative extension of the signifying game. I intend to present a few historical and current examples of such an approach in critical opposition to the kind of “bad” or obfuscating art writing from the point of view that it is, ironically, too vested in a kind of pedantic administrative speech: the half-attention of poetical indeterminacy versus the pedantic (non-attention) of “bad” art writing. In other words, in order for an artistic (or any) concept to maintain its autonomous meaning it often has to be insincere to the mere denotative meaning of words. Connotative language can be much more productive and sincere to the artist’s concept.

Examples of strong writing on aesthetics from oblique perspectives:

Harold Bloom, Map of Misreading, Oxford University Press, 1975.
Robert Smithson, “Climate of Sight”, in The Writings of Robert Smithson, NYU Press, 1979.

Fred Moten, Black and Blur, Duke University Press, 2017.

Institutional (Administrative) Indeterminacy

Interestingly, tendentious, administrative language also has its own way of understanding itself by objectifying its ostensible rationality.

This now infamous example of administrative obfuscation (below), by George Bush’s former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, actually has a clear concept to it’s maddening intelligibility. The “Johari Window” a technique that helps people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) in 1955, and is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic exercise.


Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. “  
Thus the “Johari Window” is a technique of breaking down institutional thought processes into somewhat “pragmatic” terms.  Psychoanalytic philosopher Slavoj Žižek says that beyond these three categories there is a fourth, the unknown known, that which we intentionally refuse to acknowledge that we know: 
"If Rumsfeld thinks that the main dangers in the confrontation with Iraq were the 'unknown unknowns', that is, the threats from Saddam whose nature we cannot even suspect, then the Abu Ghraib scandal shows that the main dangers lie in the "unknown knowns" the disavowed beliefs, suppositions and obscene practices we pretend not to know about, even though they form the background of our public values.”  From Rumsfeld and the Bees, The Guardian, June 2008.

 Zizek’s last statement refers to intentional institutional obfuscation that relates to the “plausible deniability” of political doublespeak- yet there are certain traits that the Johari Window technique shares with how an artist might productively describe their work or how a critic might describe an artist’s concept. And within the critical awareness of the obfuscation of institutional, administrative language might be found the crux of the dilemma of artists identifying with such pretzel logic unintentionally, why they might mimic this type of language in statements about their own work. An artist’s relation to their own work will always contain a blind spot, and often an intentional unknowing of self. This doesn’t mean, however, that their description of their work can’t me made more specifically unspecific, more accurately abstruse.

Post-Post Modern Conceptualization : Living with Self Contradiction and The Connotation of Concept.

The objective consideration of mere denotative language of course has its interrogators. The objectification of language and its impossibility to approximate experience is seen in the post-post modern writing of Kathy Acker and Lynne Tillman. Acker’s genre appropriations (substitutions for authority inGreat Expectations, 1982) and Tillman’s profound skepticism at the denotative possibilities of words, language (problematized narrative denouement in Living with Contradictions also, 1982) are good examples of writers reimagining the expressive potential of connotative meaning via an aesthetics of indeterminacy.

Both Robert Smithson and Fred Moten filter their denotations through a connotative “content as genre.” This tack is taken in order to incorporate in their creative expression a critique of the inherent “cultural confinement” (Smithson) of language and its potential for “fugal fugitivity” (Moten).  They both will often actively mock (or at least ventriloquize) administrative language within their own administration of concept, in order to destabilize the reader from rushing to pre-judgment themselves, to disarm the reader’s own resistance to being ad-ministered to. This combination of eluding/ eliding pre-determined meaning Moten refers to as the “Fugitivity of the Gest/ure.” Like Smithson he also shares an abiding interest in the creative potential of the historical picturesque (ruins contemplated in the present), which Moten wonderfully terms “paraontological remains.” Smithson deploys the meta/real-context of geology to analogize his concepts of evading cultural confinement:
 “The strata of the earth is a jumbled museum. Embedded in the sediment is a text that contains limits and boundaries which evade rational order, and social structures that confine art.” – from The Climate of Sight, in The Writings of Robert Smithson, NYU Press, p. 88.

Fred Moten aims at an intimate political specificity in his deployment of discursive vernacular to describe the Middle Passage of the slave trade as analogy to the diffusion of its legacy in the logic of logistics, or the administrative impulse to constantly impose a controlling metrics on the “fugitivity” of the real:
 “Logistics could not contain what it had relegated to the hold. It cannot. Robert F. Harney, the historian of the migration ‘from the bottom up’ used to say that once you crossed the Atlantic, you were never on the right side again.”-from Logisticality or The Shipped in The Undercommons Minor Compositions 2013 p. 92.
Cultural institutions such as graduate schools and museums typically adopt the broad language of “knowledge assessment” pretty much uncritically and often done automatically, unknowingly with the best intentions. This type of language becomes the “capital” that perpetuates institutional knowledge. And institutions, especially art institutions, will adopt the language of a vague liberal relativism, or what I’d term a “Bad Generic” An example can be seen in the recent wall labels that accompany the revamping of MoMA, NYC. For example, there is a room introductory label entitled “Worlds to Come” which reduces the rich and contradictory history of modernist utopianism to a bland social affirmation. This tendency has been accelerated recently due to the almost wholesale critique of “classic” liberal principles in the culture at large. This has the effect of aestheticizing the politics of liberal relativity and therefore culturally confining those same principles and somewhat neutralizing their potential for real social change in the so called “real world” of contemporary world politics which itself has increasingly (or has it always been thus?) taken on the aspect of a Dada farce. 

  With regards artists writing about their own work, in artist statements for instance, the intimacy with which the artist realizes their work should be an aid. Yet to the extent that the artist actively and usefully dissembles their ego in order to court inspiration, to clear away on overweening self consciousness as a way to inspire their work in the first place, they might not be the best suited to consciously describe their own work in purely informational terms. With this dilemma of knowing- yet not “knowing”- artists can fall prey to the insecurity that they don’t actually know what they are doing because they are unable to adequately describe the meaning of their work. The process of making is fundamentally beyond words for the maker in the moment of realizing their conceptions.  This anxiety of unknowing often occasions the falling back on an arch, administrative voice in their statements, a super- ego command, long- enculturated by art institutions like graduate schools and other educational and cultural institutions. Unfortunately, by “giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”, artists pay tribute to a obliterative institutional dominance at the cost of paying attention to their own creative coinage. There are alternatives to this endless capitulation to institutional imperatives. If one can learn to understand that the play of signification, a poetic slippage between base information and projected meaning, can be effectively deployed in the navigation of such necessary hurdles as grant application decorum and exhibit press releases, one can come to realize a real sense of aesthetic empowerment and freedom- and translate as much to those who might be reviewing such applications and exhibits. Ultimately, poetic play (and the free, radical indeterminacy that it can cultivate) is significant not only in the rich potential of ground gained between words and meaning, but in creative territory that one can claim between institutional dominance (cultural confinement -Smithson) and an expansive recurrence of artistic freedom (fugal fugitivity- Moten).