Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Salman Rusdhie’s a grand master literacy critic of Western colonialism and its spawn imperialism, in the black and brown world.  So hilariously entertaining, erudite, subversive and prolific, is he that Iran’s Ayatollah took umbrage at his 4th novel, "The Satanic Verses" and issued a fatwa,-a bounty, on his head, sending Rushdie into hiding for years.

And as the western world, especially America, slowly crumbles and rots from within, it’s fascinating not just to watch the waning of America’s military, financial, and political hegemony, but to see the organic magic that shots up through the cracks to feel the void, as nature does abhor a vacuum. 

A great example is the magic of Badak Radboy whom I call the “Salman Rusdhie" of the Art World.  Born in post revolutionary  Iran,  (at three he moved to Seattle) Badak infuses Marxism critique with his art.

With his Bidoun Projects, “dedicated to supporting contemporary art and culture from the Middle East and the diaspora”, he climbed into the gilled art world, subtly via the back window with "The Bidoun Library", a mobile collection of  books, magazines, and other printed materials, used to survey the Middle Eastern and West African landscape. This sounds innocuous enough, but the material isn't for cultural education, but for objectification, as a critique of a more unconscious  production of sudo- intellectual materials that intersect between history and the desire for power, greed, and financial gain. In this "collection of the strangest and worst books in the word on the subject of the Middle East," which we are reminded is a western imposed label. The traveling library,  seems more a traveling circus of the perversity of America gun boat diplomacy/ foreign policy traveling though some of the most affected countries Cairo, Beirut, and on to London and finally, New York City.

Radak, now that he's inside the art world, is properly ready to wreck some shit. And like Rushdie, he's got enough cultural weaponry to give "good art" combined with exposing what Samuel Beckett termed "the mess". As with his latest salvo, entitled "Shanzhai Biennale", which is à propos, because Radboy "lifted" the term, like crack fiends lift hubcaps and man-whole-covers  in the Bronx to scrap for coin,  Radboy lifted the term from the 1996 Chinese Shanghai Biennial, and bootlegged it. Below is the  authoritarian Chinese Government's description of the 1996 event.

"Under the authority of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and the Municipal Administration of Shanghai, the Shanghai Art Museum organised the first Shanghai Biennial in 1996."
Under the authority of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and the Municipal Administration of Shanghai, the Shanghai Art Museum organised the first Shanghai Biennial in 1996.

The Biennial aims to expand Shanghai’s importance as the ‘gateway to the west’ through the arts sector. Additionally, it means to serve as an international platform for the self-portrayal of China and Shanghai"

For Radboy, the bootleg version, which becomes a mock high fashion label, is demonstrative of the Chinese/American Gate Way  and what is in fact and international platform for self portrayal of China, i.e. bootlegging Western Products and selling it back to the West.

So under the bootleg "Shanzhai Biennale designer label,  CHANEL becomes  "CAMEL"; Calvin Klein is "Oalvin Klein" or, my more incomprehensible favorite, "Caier Kaoau". 

Samuel Beckett said the artist's responsibility is to make known or reveal "the mess". The problem is most white American artists is their unwillingness to do this, because it means grappling with the "mess",  the underside of America, which has to mean coming up dirty, being rendered uncomfortable,  bearing the stench of the funk, and experiencing intellectual and social vertigo. So it's left to the Black artists who have to do it, like James Baldwin, James Brown, Toni Morrison, Bessie Smith, Gordon Parks, Betye Saar, Spike Lee,  etc, but they do it least they go insane.  I think the next wave will be those folks like Radboy and Rushdie, who like Beckett and Tennessee Williams, prove that you don't have to be Black to know "why the cage bird sings" or creates art out of the "mess"  


Calamity Janet said...

The infamous Spook from Chicagoist I presume? Where you been boy? I like the new blog digs. Mind if I make myself at home?

Invisible Man said...

I know you mean well, but you do know that spook in certain circles is a derogatory term?

And as Dracula said to Harker "Welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring."