THE MONGREL COALITION AGAINST GRINGPO OFFERS EXTENDED THOUGHTS ON THE TATTERED FLAG OF WHITE CONCEPTUALISM

by on Jan.26, 2015

[Communiqué #2 sent to me by TMCAG.  I post on the coalition’s behalf and assume no part in its authorship.]

“Again I was supposed to know them, while they were not at all interested in knowing me. Instead they sought to ‘deconstruct’ the tradition to which they belonged even as they used the same forms, style, language of that tradition, forms which necessarily embody its values.” -Barbara Christian, “The Race for Theory”

“… the parasitical nature of white freedom.” -Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

 

They tell us with a straight face that there is this thing called art–and that some of its practitioners have been into “ideas.” They say: did you know that this methodology is advanced? They repeat in unison: some poets conceptualize their work! Their work is about “ideas” (never specified, never identified).

The Jacket2 authors, in an attempt to elevate the claims, practices, and politics of white conceptualism, violently flatten. The tradition of this practice is so vast it was easy for us to spot.

Glaringly absent is their discussion. All we gauged from their discussion is that poetry critics and their favorite poets are 50 years behind in reading, selective in their memory, fixated and beholden to whiteness as property, whiteness as elevation, whiteness as transcendence.

In their omissions the politics of Gringpo are presented:

Peddling the notion that white male poets make art about ideas…vs what? Black poets write about the body? From their body (because this is so horrific!!!!)? Female identified writings are produced by their feelings? The consistently old Cartesian dichotomy that “some” writers are engaged with the process of ideas (and therefore abstraction and therefore elevated) while “others” are fixated to the realm of the earthly crass and contingently precise: these are clearly marked racialized and gendered divisions. So to get this right: white male writers and their companion poets make work for the mind, of the mind. Let’s not even mention their obliteration of the soul: everyone else is stuck with the body. Gringpo has gotten so sloppy it can’t even dress up its racism.

In addition: to suggest that conceptualists make work centering on ideas is at this point in art criticism sloppy and ignorant at best. To collapse the variations of conceptual art practices (institutional critique, social practice, relational, non-relational, etc, each one with their limits) and their explicit political projects–this reading is behind by at least 50 years.

To speak of conceptualism, performance, and art history without attending to the deep and vast care art historians and artists have tended to questions of the market in relation to the aesthetic production is another violent omission.

While recent congregations of social practice attempt to test and rupture the limits of market-based, object-oriented modes of aesthetic production, poetry critics are asking how can we catch up to an antiquated notion of an object-based, individual author-based, gallery-based, brand of conceptualism? Why? To elevate poetry as an expensive art object to be fitted for museum consumption?

Sidenote: We have no interest in the spectacle of mud wrestling with POC writers and artists who disagree feel defensive hurt, etc. Fighting with such personalities sidelines us from our main objective: the utter destruction of white supremacy on all fronts. We believe there are sides. Everyday is the apocalypse. However, publicly belittling native informants/model minorities is of no interest to us. That is all we will say on that front and all we’ll ever say about the matter.

We are excited Gringpo made explicitly clear the connections between white conceptual art and white conceptual writing. We exclaim not to be included, but to make explicit what their stakes hold and have held–so that we may destroy their forms and their havens completely.

White forgetting. ANCESTRAL MEMORY. Colonial Isolation. EMBODIED SPIRITUALIZATION. White lack as ideas. THE GLORY HOLE OF DECOLONIZATION

–The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo

3 comments for this entry:
  1. Walter

    On facebook, Divya Victor responded to this post with a dismissive “Gah, what shit”. However, in a Jacket2 interview, she writes:

    “I want to argue that if there is to be an articulation of conceptualism’s globality, and if we want to use its trans-national significance as a way to catalogue and historicize contemporary literary production, then we must insist on thinking repetition without Stein. In other words, we’ll have to circumvent a Western, primarily imperialist pedigree. The critical effort (Goldsmith, Perloff, etc.) has portrayed conceptualism as a historical continuity between two origin myths— one set in European, sometimes transatlantic, modernism (Duchamp, Stein, Klein, etc.) and one set in North American conceptualism in the 60s and 70s (Huebler, L. Wiener, Acconci, Cage, Schneeman, Kosuth, etc.). These artists and writers supply our ur-texts that then essentially allow us a convenient, but narrow, regionally- and racially-specific way of imagining the projects that present as conceptualist right now. It gives us good mothers and fathers, and then in turn defines our pedigree. This is obviously insufficient.”

    It is precisely this “Western, primarily imperialist pedigree” and its “narrow, regionally- and racially-specific” vision that the Mongrel Coalition are pushing back against.

  2. Lucas de Lima

    Thanks Walter, such a rich and interesting interview. I’ve posted the quote in the hope of opening up the discussion.

  3. adam s

    I don’t quite get what’s meant here, and wish this wouldn’t be the end of “the road”:

    Sidenote: We have no interest in the spectacle of mud wrestling with POC writers and artists who disagree feel defensive hurt, etc. Fighting with such personalities sidelines us from our main objective: the utter destruction of white supremacy on all fronts. We believe there are sides. Everyday is the apocalypse. However, publicly belittling native informants/model minorities is of no interest to us. That is all we will say on that front and all we’ll ever say about the matter.