Friday, March 12, 2010

On Wednesday I attended Robert Linsley's UBC talk. Although billed as "Failed Regionalism", Linsley made short work of this moribund topic and proceeded through the work of several Vancouver artists, less with method than with madness.

Linsley believes, as I do, that the form a work takes must be implicated in that work. Odd, then, that he should dismiss Stan Douglas' Nutka as a piece whose soundtrack is unnecessary. Last I heard, the mediums of film and video carry with them a provision for sound, something Douglas addressed through competing conquest narratives.

Of the artists today, Douglas is among the best-known for working with the guts of his medium. For Linsley to disregard that in such an offhand manner is petulance, the kind of squawk Greenberg pulled. A "limits case" my ass.

From there it gets worse. Pressed for time, Linsley asked if we would like to hear some of his "summary assessments" of the work of Vancouver's younger artists, and the worst of us said yes.

"Ron Terada, Myfawny MacLeod, Alex Morrison and Tim Lee," Linsley began -- "all are obsessive, quirky and obnoxious enough to make important art. But instead they disappoint."

As a writer, Linsley is seductive and readable -- and he often supports his arguments. The only way one might excuse the performance he pulled at UBC is if his book were available in advance, a book he claims no one wants to publish because of its "negative criticism." That it may never see the light of day plays a part in Linsley's modus operandi. How disingenuous.

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