Contemporary art is seeing a surge of interest in what I call “the rural.” I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but one decisive factor appears to be a shared reaction to anxiety.
One fine evening in San Antonio I had the pleasure of driving a certain Parisian curator along with a certain New York art dealer to party after party.
Not long after I moved to Texas, I saw a guy walking funny in the dairy section of a grocery store in Austin. His super-stiff gait went beyond some sort of affectation meant to complement his black cowboy hat and boots. I figured he had a pretty serious back brace on under his Wrangler’s and button-down shirt.
According to the billboard-sized text panel at the entrance to Global Cities at Tate Modern (2007), “More than fifty per cent of us now live in cities and according to the United Nations this number is set to rise to seventy-five per cent by 2050.”
Six years ago, I briefly moved home to the Piney Woods of East Texas. During that year, I commuted sixty miles into the bustling Museum District of Houston every day. Although issues of working-class and rural culture have always influenced my artwork, what I found on my journey back and forth between “rural” and “urban” was a creative gold mine.
Emily Morrison recently left Artpace San Antonio after serving as Assistant Curator for nearly three years. After traveling across the United States for several months, and briefly working for an organic farm in Pennsylvania, she landed in New Orleans where she is in the process of developing a new art space.
In January of 2007, as a consequence of an earlier urban-animal project having come to their attention, we were commissioned by the Storey Gallery, Lancaster, UK, to research and make a proposal for a major new project.
It’s about 1,700 miles from Wink, Texas, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Plenty of road time on such a drive to consider the topics raised in this issue of Art Lies. Plenty of good country to feed your mind and plenty of homogenous crapola to remind you that the creeping dystopia of convenience is always readily available just outside the spot where your best thoughts crash and burn.