21 October 2008

ASA Conference in Albuquerque: Day Three

Saturday 18 October

8AM: Amazing panel on early twentieth-century South Asian American histories. Feel invigorated despite the early hour. Resolve to get to work harder and faster when I get back to Brooklyn.

10AM: Walk to Grower’s Market. Buy beautiful chilies to take home. Will dry some of them, namely these:

10.40AM: Begin what lizzie b promises to be a reasonable walk to the Pueblo Cultural Center to try out its new restaurant. See lots of interesting bungalows and murals.
11.45AM: Arrive at Pueblo Cultural Center and head directly to Harvest Cafe. Eat delicious plate of Pojoaque carne adovada served on fried bread. Hungrily and happily.

12.30PM: Visit Pueblo Museum and attached bookstore. Realize that while the Center has had a lot of exterior renovations since my 2002 visit, the museum displays are essentially the same and the bookstore is actually diminished. Observe jack-o-lanterns by the service entrance to the museum.

1.30PM: Take cab to Albuequerque Museum. Take in the Southwest Biennial Art Show. Favorite pieces include Christine Chin's installation "Mosquito Generator" and Laura Wacha's artist biography [read here] that accompanied her painting "Three Wishes."

But these pale next to this astonishing piece of art criticism from the guestbook.

Dear Museum Owner-people/things The very existance of this exhibit—not merely the presence of the rather pathetic pieces of “art” with which y’all, in yourn infinite wisdom, have decided to populate it, but also the way all of these poor, brainwashed art students I can see around me wander about with vacant, sheeplike expressions bestowing worshipful attention upon said pieces, whether because they genuinely believe that this “art” is worth the air whoever made it breaths, or because its presence inside the museum validates their own no-doubt sorry efforts in this area—is indicative of the dizzying, festering lows to which the modern art community has sunk. It gives creedance to the belief that success in the art world is reached not by exhaustive study of well-known art works of the past, being in tune with the natural and human worlds, constant practice and refinement and genuine natural ability, but by quickly slapping together some crude, random conglomeration of disenfranchised materials fished out of a recycling center, and then making up a half-baked artist’s statement which expounds greatly about just which part of your soul the inspiration for the pile of garbage came from but says nothing about just what message the garbage is supposed to convey.
4PM: Attend a solid panel on the meanings of the “trans-Pacific” for American Studies. Highlight for me is a paper on the articulation of the “trans-Pacific” in the work around the Ding Ling defense campaign in the 1930s.

7PM: Dinner with friends. Get cornered talking about my Moscow research, but turns out to be a good experience, helping me think through some stuff and re-assuring me that my work might be interesting to other people. Ingest scallops, fingerling potatoes and a glass of red wine.

10PM: Walk back to hostel. Collapse onto bed.