Visual Arts

ArtClash: Local Rockers Amok in the Menil

On a scorching summer afternoon, Art Attack invited members of the popular local rock band The Manichean to take a tour of the Maurizio Cattelan exhibition at the Menil Collection. We wanted to see what kinds of correlations and contradictions existed between the worlds of narrative rock and contemporary art. Art Attack met lead singer Cory Sinclair, lead guitarist Justice Jamail, and musician and part-time Manichean member Austin Smith, at Menil Park. Slightly buzzed after sharing a few sun-beers, we wandered into the A/C for a gander at the exhibit (which is wonderful, by the way; see it before it closes August 15).

So with that, Art Attack presents the first try in an ongoing attempt to cross lines and wires within the arts community.

In the spirit of contemporary art, we present excerpts of raw quotes (slightly explained):

Cory Sinclair: (As we approach the museum) Turn your cellphones off.

Justice Jamail: (Offers a rhetorical question, as we walk into the first gallery) Are you supposed to figure out how it's supposed to affect you, or does it just affect you?

CS: I don't think you're supposed to walk past that line right there.

Guard: Don't touch!

CS: (Considering Cattelan's "All," a series of nine marble sculptures resembling bodies covered in white sheets) So [Cattelan's] really more like a puppet master. Who does this? He doesn't do this. This is just his idea. What is that?

Austin Smith: See, this is one of those things ... I need ... more explanation, you know? I mean, I could think whatever I want, but it seems more meaningful if I had ... some sort of ... direction. This could literally mean anything. Mexican genocide, border shit. I think it's good, but I don't know what it means.

AS: I have a huge issue with that. (He points at two large pieces of cut felt) Like, "Oh, man, let's go see what's behind my apartment right now." This means nothing to me unless the person who made it was right here explaining it to me. Just because we're talking about it doesn't make it art.

CS: (Considering a Robert Rauschenberg work) I think it looks like a glacier.

AS: It's got kind of a geographic sense.

JJ: (Reads the tag) I think it looks like solvent transfer on a satin pillow.

CS: (Random) This looks like a fog machine.

AS: (Referring to a four-panel painting of solid colors in the Menil foyer) That painting out there I have huge problems with. It was, like, two or three years that it took him to do that. Like, why did it take him that long? Home Depot was closed for two years?

CS: (On Cattelan's taxidermied horse on display) What I like about this is that it's an event. You walk in here and you're part of the storyline. It draws you in. Because in here, we're not just looking at a bunch of Magrittes on a wall; we're looking at a bunch of Magrittes on the wall, and there's a dead fucking horse in the middle of the room. I mean, this was a live horse at sometime.

Guard: Don't touch!

CS: Yes ma'am.

[General banter]

CS: Yeah, but this is [Cattelan's] idea.

JJ: It's his idea, yes, but the finished product involves multiple artists.

CS: It's kind of like what we do with our music.

AS: This is the kind of shocking thing you guys employ in your songs and in your poetry. You shock someone into paying attention.

CS: You have to be blunt.

AS: This is the most interesting thing I've seen so far, and it reminds me so much of what you guys do. There's this aggression that you guys have been able to cultivate. Yeah, this is art to me.

CS: So it's art to you if you're drawn in. Well, I'm flattered that you compared this dead fucking horse to our music.

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Troy Schulze
Contact: Troy Schulze