November 24, 2010

Klein-Karmel Continued

Nov. 22, 2010

Mr. Boyd,

I just wanted to say thank you for writing that letter on the topic of Yves Klein's most significant achievements. I think that you were right about Karmel's opinion of the monochromatic canvases--it needed to be challenged, and your response was wonderfully put. It was amusing to see, in his reply, that Mr. Karmel did not understand the meaning of your phrases on the "conceptual objections to ownership." I am researching for a paper currently on the topic of performance art and copyright/notions of ownership, and I wholeheartedly empathize with Klein's experimentation with the purpose of art itself, and with your letter. Thanks again!

Suzanna Ritz
New Orleans, LA

Nov. 23, 2010

Dear Ms. Ritz,

Many thanks for your kind words. It is good to know someone is reading a "Letters" column, given that we seem to have our focus mostly on digital text nowadays. Over the years I've written a handful of letters to "AiA" and a few have made print. For instance, I took issue with Eleanor Heartney's misinterpretation of Richard Prince, and also posted my letter as this essay on my blog: Prince of Thieves.

Later, after it was published, along with Ms. Heartney's response, I replied to her reply, again on my blog: Ms. Heartney's Riposte.

My hope, then as now, is always that discourse on a topic of disagreement might be further engaged other than The Publishing World's rote pattern: reader disagrees with points of view or "judgments of taste," writes letter, author retorts, end of story.

To date, no "AiA" writer has deigned to appear on my blog, though they undoubtedly have been alerted, given the ubiquity of ‘Net-heads. Still, it's saying something that they bother to reply to letters at all; they probably are not paid for it so their response may issue from a respect for opposing views. Or maybe it’s just self-preservation. Either way, the putative "conversation" is shut down in finality in the standard way, with the "author" having the last word.

I do think Mr. Karmel understood the gist of my argument but he decided not to go down that path; to belittle my position with regard to "ownership" and conceptual practice might have exposed Karmel's lack of expertise on the subject. And that might lead to future conversations at NYC openings, with his journalist peers and/or artists button-holing him to lecture on the finer points of ownership vis-à-vis conceptual practice.

In any case, I trust you read the rather timely essay about Yves Klein by a student of mine that I chose to post as a remarkably apropos "stand-in" for my position: It's Immaterial, Mr. Karmel

It was a pleasure to receive your email today. Please keep in touch regarding your future research on performance art and copyright/ownership; perhaps we might discuss a preview posting of it on Theory Now.

Best,
MCB

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