I Derryth

Rowan Derryth's Virtual Adventures

SaveMe: An Intervention

Self-portrait by SaveMe Oh.

I am here to be saved or to save you. -SaveMe Oh

When we think of an ‘intervention’ these days, it is usually in the substance abuse manner of speaking. For example, Amy Winehouse clearly needed an intervention earlier on. It is one of these terms that in common parlance has come to signify a specific aspect of its meaning, versus its original definition.

Cornelia Parker's 2003 'The Distance: a kiss with string attached'

In contemporary art, an intervention can mean one of two things. The first is technical and relates to conservation: if an art work is determined to be in a vulnerable or volatile situation, intervention may be made to stop the physical and/or chemical destruction of a work of art, stabilising it against further decay.

The second is creative and relates to performance: an intervention is ‘an interaction with a previously existing artwork, audience or venue/space.’ (Ugh, I took that from Wikipedia, I’ll admit it, but only because it is so perfectly concise.) In fact, Wiki does a pretty good job discussing Art Interventions, so I’ll leave the reader to follow-up more there if you like. You’ll note that amongst the examples are interventions which were sanctioned (Cornelia Parker wrapping Rodin’s The Kiss in a mile of string at Tate Britain in 2003), and those unsanctioned, which for most are naught more than vandalism (Pierre Pinoncelli taking a hammer to Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ at the Pompidou in 2006 – an act he said Duchamp would approve of, and I’m inclined to agree.)

Last night, I used this term in regards to SaveMe Oh‘s activities in a comment on Miso Susanowa’s blogpost about the most recent SLart drama – the SaveMe Oh/Igor Ballyhoo smackdown. Not familiar? You can pop over to read Miso’s blog and follow links there, but the nutshell is this: SaveMe targeted Igor repeatedly with her own brand of ‘love’ and documented it in her blog; Igor felt harassed and decided to quit SL – and asked a friend to send a note around saying he quit because of SaveMe. Consequently, some artists and gallery owners have launched a campaign to have SaveMe removed from SL in defence of Igor and, apparently, the whole of virtual art. I think that about covers it.

Let’s rewind a bit now, because although this drama is admittedly fascinating and entertaining, I want to talk a minute about the work. I did wonder whether I should make this an official Ekphrasis, but to tell the truth, I’ve not done my research on SaveMe, and I don’t really have the time to give it a fair treatment. Plus, I strive to keep my writing for Prim Perfect as objective as possible, and I think at this point I am too entertained (or possibly bemused) to do that; and as well, saying what I want to about the art in question will be impossible without delving into the gossip surrounding it.

I’ve not actually seen very many of SaveMe’s ‘performances’ as she calls them. I’d heard of her before I ever saw her, and my first encounter of her was at the opening for M Linden’s Doodle Art show at the UWA early last year. She was being antagonistic, and was banned. I believe this is the first time I learned that being banned was often her goal in these performances, and my first impression was: ‘meh.’ Not because I was outraged at her rudeness, or on a moral high ground about it, but because I didn’t think it was very original. I was also baffled that so many people took the bait. But I taught kids for a long time, so it was pretty easy for me not to give the attention she sought.

Since then, a few other occurrences made me rethink her a bit. The main thing that made me reconsider her was her arrival at Sabrinaa Nightfire’s impromptu memorial. I felt tense, hoping that she wasn’t there to cause trouble at such a heartbreaking event. But she was there to pay her respects, if I recall making a light joke about her not being banned there for a change… and shared a machinima she had made using Sabrinaa’s work as set. It is simple, but lovely, and made even more poignant at that time  – I asked her permission to post it on the posthumous Ekphrasis I wrote as it was so moving to me. I was impressed, and watched other of her machinima then too, and I find them to be the best of her work.

But prior to this, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the things she was commenting on when she would show up and verbally grief art events actually were in line with some of my own views on SL Art (and really, the art world in general). She is very critical of work that is simply rezzed repros – and my readers KNOW how I feel about that, and if not, go to the first Ekphrasis I ever wrote for my manifesto (ha, ha).

But also, some of her comments about the… how shall I put it… populist art… the kind of insular, touchy-feely ‘OMG your work is so wonderful’ atmosphere around some artists in particular whose work, in reality, isn’t quite ‘working’ to me… these comments struck a chord. Largely because, like so many I suspect, I’m not brave enough to be as harshly critical as I would like (that may shock some people), because I don’t want to hurt the feelings of people who are trying so very hard. Chantal Harvey and I have talked the fact that everyone in SL is afraid to be critical, everyone has to be friends and encourage each other, when actually some people are in desperate need of some feedback. And no, I’m not talking about the work shown in the crappy galleries that pop up left right and centre. I’m talking about some very well-known (and loved) artists who, at times, are spot on, and at others, really need a boot up the ass.

SaveMe offers that boot with no-holds-barred. And yeah, I know the argument is that one can be critical in a constructive manner, and I personally favour that approach. But I also think that people like her are needed in the world to upset the balance sometimes. She’s the intervention.

SaveMe and Igor sittin in a tree. Photo by SaveMe Oh.

Igor Ballyhoo was, for me, one of those artists who needed an intervention. I saw him admired for his work by countless people I respected, and even involved more personally with some people I adore. But outside of a few of his sculptural works (I do love Axis Mundi) – I didn’t get the fuss. I figured he must have done something amazing before I came along, that I missed. After I met him, I did have some very interesting conversations with him, but one stands out for me… regarding the view of his work (edited this a bit for easier reading, ellipses reflect line breaks):

[2010/11/28 09:09] Igor Ballyhoo: thing with my builds is that they exist as my greatest passion only while I make them… as soon as it is finished… it is like after fuck… when I cum, I dont think about that fuck any more
[2010/11/28 09:10] Rowan Derryth: What about the pleasure of your lover?… Who in this case might be thought of as the viewer of the work?
[2010/11/28 09:10] Igor Ballyhoo: my builds mean more to any ppl who seen it then to me… lover in this case is ME… I build things for my joy of seeing it… so when I made it, I feel like I took a dump… work is a turd… I feel easy and light… and work… who care… we all apsorb so much information… we have to use it to live… when we apsorb food… and then dispose rest of it… same is with my builds… I have to apsorb big amount of information… some even I produce in my dreams and thinkings…  so I have to dispose rests… and it go through my builds… this all building… is enema… discharging my brain so I can think more
[2010/11/28 09:13] Rowan Derryth: I am smiling, shaking my head, nodding thoughtfully, etc.
[2010/11/28 09:14] Igor Ballyhoo: do u think any reall artist really care for work he already did more then for one that he will just make in future?
[2010/11/28 09:14] Rowan Derryth: I guess the thing is… I don’t care that YOU don’t care…. Doesn’t matter… I am the viewer… and the critic… I look at… well, your ‘DUMP’, and think about what you’ve left us. The excrement of your creative surge has been left for us… and it doesn’t matter that you don’t care. You put it into the world, on display. You DO that. You bring me to see it, show me things. You ASK me what I think. So… that is interesting to.
[2010/11/28 09:15] Igor Ballyhoo: problem of most ppl who want to be artist is that they build for you… viewer and critic… they care what YOU will say about it… and I care also but for other reason then they… your coment will tell me more about you… not about my work

The language, the motivations, the attitude, spoke volumes to me about the man. And it was indeed a fascinating conversation (which I told him at the time I would save for future use, and you can guess that his response was that he didn’t care). But also, I didn’t buy it. I understand what he was saying in terms of his creative process – you make something and move on (although his mode of expressing this made me feel incredibly sorry for his lovers). He is in it for his own pleasure. But I am not at all convinced that he doesn’t really think about his work afterwards, or what others think of it, because why else would he show it?

SaveMe has picked up on Igor’s not-so-hidden insecurities and turned it into an intervention – or performance as she might say – on her blog. In a series of posts, she manages to expose his own desire to be accepted not just by the virtual art world, but by his greatest nemesis – SaveMe herself. And she does this using her two favourite weapons in her artistic arsenal – her words, and her wiles. She flirts, she plays with him. She makes posts about her love and obsession with him – which I think is not entirely untrue. She admits it herself, he provides the perfect foil for her.

Psycho, killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?

SaveMe presents herself as an oversexed coquette. There is a sticky sweetness about her, and like Igor, she has no reservations about being downright pornographic in her language or her actions (nudity and dildos appear often in her work). And she clearly affects him – he throws strops when she is around, he cannot resist her baiting, and he goes so far as to demand her being banned the moment she walks into his gallery opening and says ‘Hey.’ The curators obliged, which is what kicked off the events that led to Igor’s SLuicide, leaving a note with friends that SaveMe killed him. Talk about a cliffhanger! When does series two start?!

For someone who is so stoic – and seemingly macho – I’m surprised he gave her so much power. But then again, I guess I’m not… Igor’s sexual conquests are reportedly legend at least in terms of numbers (I’m going on heresay now), and while normally I wouldn’t delve into personal gossip in an art article, I think this fact is relevant here and underlies SaveMe’s ‘Igor Intervention Series’ (yes, let’s call it that!). While his mystique baffles me personally, it seems to be there, some unidentifiable charm that seduces the bad-boy lovers across the grid. SaveMe expresses her attraction, indeed obsession, which piques with her machinima ‘Igor yes’:

Is this art? On one hand, it is a bit adolescent, but I think it is self-consciously so. Miso is spot-on when she calls it ‘a parody of teen romance angst’ in her comment response to me at her blog. This ‘Igor Intervention’ interestingly touches upon something which Igor himself said to me in the above quote – that he cares not what people say about his work, but rather what the work tells him about the audience. SaveMe’s intervention tells us about her favoured audience here – Igor. In the pinacle of this tale, the raison d’etre of her work reveals his own insecurities through his words which foreshadow his actions:

Igor Ballyhoo: I was on edge of leaving sl for pretty long time, even now I am not sure I will not leave it for good

SaveMe Oh: That you have to decide for yourself

Igor Ballyhoo: do you think sl would be better without me here

SaveMe Oh: no, I don’t think so

SaveMe Oh: SL is a great platform to create

SaveMe Oh: and when you like that you stay but accept the fact that there are more people on the platform who all have different intentions

Igor Ballyhoo: every move you made pushed me step further from all this

SaveMe Oh: when you want to work in peace, go to an open sim

SaveMe Oh: when you like interaction, stay here

SaveMe Oh: or hide well

Igor Ballyhoo: if I build on open sim, I can do it also locally on my comp

SaveMe Oh: when you want to share accept the consequences

SaveMe Oh: and learn to smile

Igor Ballyhoo: do you think people should not see things I build?

SaveMe Oh: I think they should see it

Igor Ballyhoo: on open sim no one will

SaveMe Oh: that’s why you should stay

SaveMe Oh: you won’t leave me alone without good opponents, that would be unfair

The post is aptly titled Psychotherapy for an Insecure Lover, and I highly recommend it in its entirely. When I was first pointed to it last week, I read it and, amused, thought ‘these are the two most self-involved people in SL – they are perfect for each other!’ I still think that. But in thinking about the concept of interventions, it fits in every sense of the word. She is providing an ‘intervention’ for both of them in terms of their mutual use and addiction, her ‘psychotherapy’ is to expose their exchange. She is intervening in the conservation sense in trying to prevent Igor from leaving SL as a creative platform – she is attempting to stop the decay. And she is intervening in the creative sense by inserting herself into Igor’s creative oeuvre, invading his space and appropriating his virtual identity as a mode of expression. Fascinating.

When I first started thinking about SaveMe’s ‘art’, I decided that she was the Tracy Emin of SL. And regular readers know that coming from me, that is no compliment. I immediately dismissed it as self-indulgent wank, and couldn’t be bothered. But I’ve changed my mind. SaveMe’s interventions are more along the lines of Jake & Dinos Chapman, which coming from me is definitely a compliment (and in hindsight I find this comparison obvious, particularly in light of the fact that I found similarities between their work and that of Rose Borchovski, SaveMe’s close friend and sometimes creative partner).

Print from 'Insult to Injury'; etching by Goya, improved by Jake & Dinos Chapman, 2003.

Against all my better art historical judgement, I love the work of the Chapman Brothers. When they decided to ‘improve’ a set of Goya’s Disasters of War etchings (which they purchased for the purpose) by defacing them with clown heads and other illustrations, the art world went mental. But the rare set they purchased was printed posthumously in 1937 by the Goya Foundation, as propaganda against the Spanish Civil War, raising all sorts of interesting questions about authenticity and intent in these prints. The Chapman Brothers, calling the ‘new’ series Insult to Injuryseemed to me to be carrying on the work of Goya (perhaps like Pinoncelli’s Duchamp intervention – the original ‘Fountain’ urinal is after all long gone and it now exists as a repro series), who sought to expose the terror and sublime dark folly of war. Insult to Injury was crafted in the years just after the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks, and though the Chapman’s have commented that it wasn’t intended to be a political statement, it was crafted in that tumultuous climate.

So why do I compare SaveMe to the Chapmans? It isn’t just the clown faces – it is that because like them, she is brave enough to deface what many think is great (virtual) art to make something new; to expose its flaws; and, perhaps, to move towards her lofty but futile goal to save us – or help us save her. Are her interventions always warranted? Of course not. Does she always get it right? Fuck no – I think calling the UWA ‘Ikea’ is pretty short-sighted. But she is deeply flawed, a point she emphasises through celebrating her ‘perfection’. Wilde would have said she is Caliban seeing his face in the glass.

Someone in the plurkosphere last night commented ‘SaveMe saves contemp art for SL’, which I thought was incredibly stupid. There is some amazing contemporary art in SL, and different things appeal to different people, duh. But she does certainly make some interesting work. Will she save us? Who knows… but she certainly failed in saving poor Igor, alas.

Or did she?


I intervened in SaveMe’s blog and posted the images here without her permission. I’m sure she won’t mind as it is just more attention, but please do give her a first-hand visit and read anyway. I also highly recommend her flickr stream, and particularly like her recent clever digital manipulations of CNN ‘breaking news’ screenshots.


15 comments on “SaveMe: An Intervention

  1. Hey Rowan! I decided to repay the compliment of your insightful comments on my own blog.

    I made my statement about SaveMe in that post and several times to her in person; our fencing is well-known. I certainly remember my own enfant terrible stage, when I wore black and spit on anything older than 10 minutes. It was a youthful idiocy that I grew out of.

    I find SaveMe’s video work to be more interesting and intriguing than her interventions; it’s more thoughtful, sharp and focused. My experience in outsider art, confrontational performace and street theatre gives me basis to critique, and I find a lot of SaveMe’s live performances to be… unfocused; I’d admire them more if they had more of the scalpel to them – or an honest cream pie – than just using cheap effects (language deliberately vulgar and offensive). People have compared her to Banksey, which I don’t buy; we’ve talked about Emin and Koonz before and those legitimate critiques apply to SaveMe’s live work.

    I found “Igor Yes” to be absolutely hilarious! Subtle, well-constructed, perfect soundtrack and… not mean. I saw none of the vulgarity or cheap shots that mark much of SaveMe’s live oeuvre; I saw a nice little parody of teen romance… and I have heard the same rumors as you regarding Igor’s romantic escapades, so this was spot-on in a way I admire.

    At Sab’s memorial I IMed SaveMe, worrying that she would take the opportunity to “go at it” because her and Caerleon/Georg have a long history… but she was restrained, dignified and respectful; it was very admirable that she could step out of her own show when she recognized the moment. She also got along much better with Sab than His Janitorness.

    I’m glad you had the stomach to post the convo with Igor; I didn’t post mine. The attitude expressed is… about the level of a sophomore art student, who blindly and categorically rejects everything that happened before their own entrance. It smacks of monstrous ego; all the “poopy words” just point out how immature, arrogant and stupid this outlook is. He ain’t no Wm. Burroughs or Patti Smith, that’s for sure.

    I mean, if Igor’s own opinion is that his work is excrement, then he’s a fool to believe anyone would care or waste time even considering his work, except maybe GG Allin, and he’s dead. If he does it not caring about anyone seeing it, as you say… why show it? It’s hypocritical bullshit.

    If your art is more than conscious programming, tinker-toy construction or paint-by-the-numbers, you should be able to view your past work and discover subtleties and nuances you didn’t consciously “program” into the pieces; little twists, embellishments and variations you weren’t conscious of while making the work but that your mind and hands inserted in the process.

    You’ve illustrated well the point that makes me question the whole “I’m leaving! Someone’s being horrible to me!” stance of Igor-as-martyr. If, by his own words, he doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s opinion of his work and views his work as “taking a dump” then I’d think he wouldn’t care a fig about SaveMe, her work, her disruption of his shows (although SaveMe has been banned already at most of the venues where Igor shows so… she can’t really intervene there can she?) or her blog. I mean, according to him, crap is crap and immediately flushed away so…

    The whole thing seems a lot more drama on Igor’s part than SaveMe’s and really shines a spotlight on the hypocrisy of Igor’s “I chew bullets for breakfast and think about poop and cum and other nasty things daily” tough-guy stance… yet he has flounced off in a dramatic fashion usually reserved for rejected 14-yr-old girls. It’s funny, esp contrasted with those photos of his current avatar and SaveMe hit it spot-on in that video.

    Perhaps this is really a stealth performance by Igor, attempting to seize SaveMe’s Drama Crown for himself. Not sure if he has the chops though; SaveMe has a body of work that will be hard to top 😀

    Now, pass that popcorn, you popcorn-piggie! But you can share my Milk Duds ^_^

    • Rowan Derryth
      July 30, 2011

      Ha, Miso! Don’t hold back!

      Now lest we get accused of making this an Igor trash fest, I must say that although that conversation is certainly in context, there was more to it and I really did find it interesting (despite his distasteful mode of expression – and I’m no prude.) I’ve no doubt he has redeeming qualities, and have even witnessed them.

      But you and I are pretty much on the same page in terms of the work (for both of them) and caring-or-not.

      I can’t believe you mentioned the dreaded Koons!

  2. Miso Susanowa
    July 30, 2011

    NO ONE expects the Koonz Inquisition!!!!!! and yes, my misspelling is deliberate; it’s “interventionalist verbiology” 😀

  3. Igor Ballyhoo
    July 31, 2011

    Tctctc… I have such great hearth to reply here on this blog that will read I think 3 ½ ppl but… I simply can’t let you two be rude so much to talk behind someone’s (my) back.

    I bet you are all happy about post you made, thinking how brilliant and wise you are, it simply shine from every word you wrote (even from those that you stole from wiki).
    I really can’t see why you would have ANY interest why I left SL but you still have. AH, I remember! This is supposed to be your revenge for me saying that DJ sucks ant that party u made once?

    As far as I can remember Rowan, you liked quite few of my works, not just axis mundi, you were even ecstatic looking some of them? If I recall well, you have quite few of them in you inventory even?
    Now isn’t that hypocrisy? As an art historian, shouldn’t you deal more with facts then with emotions?
    But never mind, you have right to change your mind of course 😀

    Miso!!! Dear Miso 🙂
    You say I made some sexual explicit comment on that Rose’s tea party at S&S gallery! Fact is I don’t recall that BUT, since someone even there when I first met you (can’t recall was it Rose or Ally or who ever was in room) told me that you are a men (not going in to it are or not, just I never take chances if there is doubt), I seriously doubt that it happened since I never been in to men.
    Thing was something like this: I do recall I pissed u off somehow and you said “YOU ARE DISMISSED”. What to say then, ok, I am dismissed. And I acted like that. It is lie that I ever told to anyone anything else then “Miso doesn’t like me and she dismissed me”
    Things would be clear if you had guts to show that log that you saved when you IMed me.
    Only person I never wanted to exhibit with or even be allowed on my exhibits was Save and on that I have right. Every creator has right to choose who will he or she share work with. Never said bad word about you or your work to anyone. I say that not even one gallery refused to exhibit your work on my demand, I would never ask that. Maybe they changed their mind after seeing some of your work?

    It is really strange that you runned like puppy to congratulate me on every occasion you had and now you say my work is shit (and you like only some of it)
    But never mind, you also have right to change your mind 🙂

    My real question to both of you is: “Why you both waited for me to turn my back and leave SL to say all this? Don’t you feel like couple of vultures that run to bite some of attention from all of this?”

    As for why I exhibit things I made in SL. I told you that Rowan but your memory is selective. People asked me to share it with them. In 4 years I never once contacted any gallery to say I want to exhibit there, each time gallerists asked me to show. It doesn’t mean to me but it also doesn’t hurt me so that is why I shared it.
    I am creator since I know about myself; I will create where ever and with what ever tools I have at disposal.

    In the end you should ask yourself how honest you are in this blogs?

  4. Rowan Derryth
    July 31, 2011

    To repeat for you: “But outside of a few of his sculptural works (I do love Axis Mundi) – I didn’t get the fuss.” Your interpretation of that as my calling your work shit, etc., says it all really.

  5. sorornishi
    July 31, 2011

    Great post Rowan.

  6. Rose Borchovski
    July 31, 2011

    Rowan I enjoyed reading this article , ty Rose ♥

  7. Rowan Derryth
    July 31, 2011

    Thanks, Soror and Rose!

    Also, an edit for readers: Soror made a post on SaveMe’s art as Intervention before I did, but I missed it entirely before I wrote this. Apologies for that, I should have referenced it. Please read it here, it is very good: http://sorornishi.blogspot.com/2011/07/art-of-saveme-oh.html

  8. Quan Lavender
    August 2, 2011

    Discussions and blogs about this drama go very fast on a personal level, but I can sum up the prevailing opinion to the conclusion that two equal partners have found and it was wisest for all to regard it as entertainment and to maintain a neutral stance. Such a situation could be for all a good exercise of an open, heated debate with dignity and respect and to learn from those who think differently, instead of throwing them out of FL.

    I mean in this conflict only these questions are really of public interest:

    – Is that what SaveMe makes art?
    – Does she have a right to harass other artists?
    – Do we have the right to ask for their exclusion from SL?

    Rowan, you’ve written well about intervention. But I see SaveMe in the tradition of Happenings and especially Fluxus. The stated goal of Fluxus is to attack art as a fetish of the educated bourgeoisie. I do not read blogs regularly, but as far as I followed it, attacks SaveMe especially artists and art events with bourgeois flavor.

    Let’s look at what SaveMe creates. I do not know all their works, but by far the best for me is “My Art is better than Your Art”. It really does capture the sometimes difficult to tolerate selfishness and arrogance of artists and made for sure not only me smile. And “Igor, Yes”? Miso has well commented. If that’s not art, I want to know why Warhol’s “Marilyn” is art. Both works make even a brand from the depicted person and SaveMe underlines her respect and the importance of Igor in the art community.

    Now for sure some of the 3 ½ readers of this blog will disagree and still think that this is not art. So let’s look at the most famous work of a famous Fluxus artist: “The Bathtub” of Joseph Beuys. It is a baby bathtub which was equipped by Beuys with bandages and plasters. It was bought by an art collector and in 1973 given as a loan to a museum. The work has no title and there was a sign above the work: “In this tub Joseph Beuys was bathed as a child” “… obviously too hot” one visitor scrawled underneath. A short time later the museum hosted a celebration of the local SPD party. They searched a container for washing the glasses and cleaned the tub, overseeing that it was an exhibit. The scandal was perfect. The discussion whether this work is art or not, is not silenced after nearly 40 years. Is that attention not that what every artist wants? Regarding the bathtub I’m still not sure if it’s art, as well as some works by SaveMe. But SaveMe is without any doubt artist.

    I disagree with Rowan in his opinion about Igor’s art. He is rightly revered for his works. They are of immense profundity which hardly could be found anywhere else and as far as I know these works, they never show their whole meaning on the first glance. Look up to you to understand, it’s worth it.

    Has SaveMe a right to interfere art events and art openings with her own work or with verbally critics? In the above mentioned tradition clearly yes. Anyone who presents his work to the public makes itself a person of public interest and must live with controversy. Here is an example of Christoph Schlingensief, a famous representative of the younger Fluxus movement, which provoked with various campaigns and movies and died much too young last year. He became worldwide famous, when he staged 2004 Wagner’s Parsifal in Bayreuth. In 1998 he visited with a group of unemployed handicapped the KaDeWe. This department store is a temple of luxury consumption as Lafayette, Harrods or Macy’s, but due to its location in the former West Berlin of particular symbolic importance. It was exactly about disturbing others and to irritate. The event raised Schlingensief a persona non grata there. Of course, that was exactly his goal and earned him the desired media coverage to make people see poverty in Germany. It is not only perfectly legitimate to ban SaveMe from exhibitions, it is even desired as part of her artistic event.

    That leaves the final question: Does anyone have a right to demand SaveMe’s exclusion from SL? I’m German. My country has a very special story in the oppression of artists. Famous artists such as Kandinsky, Munch, Kokoschka, Dix, to name just a few, were classified as degenerate by the Nazi’s. 20.000 art works from 1400 artists were removed from German museums and destroyed or given away. Countless are the artists who were killed or simply starved to death and are forgotten today. Who was behind it? An artist: Adolf Hitler. Twice he was rejected for lack of talent at art school in Vienna, which did not prevent him for painting and worship the romantics of the 19th Century. But that’s not the end. I grew up in the west with constant media coverage on artists, who wanted or had to leave the GDR because of suppression of their work. The GDR had a constant leakage of important artists to the west. In my personal opinion the mechanisms of repression under fascism and communism are exactly the same. The GDR leadership was even with her bad taste in art in the tradition of the Nazis. Shortly after the fall I moved to East Germany and saw partly personal, partly through media more personal tragedies in the art world, which are attributable to differing opinions about art and its role in society. They were always held with a special passion and hardness by artists. I could write alone about this topic a whole book.

    I’ll spare you now deeper thoughts on that and come to my conclusion: Legal certainty and freedom of expression / art are the largest and most sacred treasures of modern culture and must be defended at all costs. And just in our little global village SL should an artist be banned because someone else feels itself under attack? This is unacceptable for me and the first step to fascism. Who is here to determine what is art and what is not, who may exhibit and who not, how shall be presented and how not?

    And it is unnecessary and even counterproductive as I stated if you want to get rid of SaveMe. SL offers wonderful legal resources: ban and mute. Ignore the blog. And suddenly there is peace! Don’t feed the troll! So easy and relaxed could it be!

  9. Rowan Derryth
    August 2, 2011

    Quan, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! I’d like to respond to a few of your points, in that spirit of enlightened debate:

    “I can sum up the prevailing opinion to the conclusion that two equal partners have found and it was wisest for all to regard it as entertainment and to maintain a neutral stance.”

    Which two equal partners do you mean? Should that ‘and’ be deleted, as this doesn’t exactly make sense, but I think I take your point.

    I mostly agree with the questions you’ve put forward, but I’d skip the first one. Asking if anything is ‘art’ will always be steeped in personal opinion and bias. Personally, the question of whether it is art or not is irrelevant – it IS art because she says it is, others say it is, and it happens within the (virtual) spaces of art. It doesn’t matter whether we agree or not. I am more interested in whether what a person expresses as their art ‘works’; if it is successful. And yes, that is also steeped in opinion, but I like to think mine is somewhat informed. Not everyone will agree, and that is fine.

    “Rowan, you’ve written well about intervention. But I see SaveMe in the tradition of Happenings and especially Fluxus.”

    Well, Interventions are in the tradition of Happenings and especially Fluxus. I wouldn’t call these Fluxus happenings in the same way I wouldn’t refer to her or her work as Dada (I’ve often heard comparisons with Duchamp) in that both are historical movements and I’d rather view her work in a current manner than situate it within dead movements. Also, an Intervention is an event, not a movement, and I don’t feel comfortable labelling contemporary artists into art historical movements in general. If you feel better calling her Neo-Fluxus or Neo-Dada, knock yourself out. I don’t think she cares. I would also call Schlingensief’s piece an intervention, and a fast google shows I’m not alone in that.

    (As an aside, check out this gorgeous memorial to him by Tamiko Thiel in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale right now: http://manifestarblog.wordpress.com/thiel_venice-2011/ Talk about an amazing variable reality work!)

    “Now for sure some of the 3 ½ readers of this blog will disagree and still think that this is not art.”

    I’m not entirely sure why this personal snark was warranted, unless maybe you are an upset friend of Igor’s, and still, it does no credit to the rest of your well-thought arguments. Besides, it is overly harsh on yourself – I’d call you a whole person and bring the total to 4 readers!

    “So let’s look at the most famous work of a famous Fluxus artist: “The Bathtub” of Joseph Beuys… Is that attention not that what every artist wants? Regarding the bathtub I’m still not sure if it’s art, as well as some works by SaveMe.”

    A couple points here. First, ‘the most famous’ is a phrase I like to banish from my students writing because it is way too arbitrary. I could easily argue that Beuys’ ‘Three and One Chairs’, or Paik’s ‘TV Bra’, or Ono’s ‘Cut Piece’ are more famous than the bathtub. But that is not a relevant debate here.

    Is attention what every artist wants? Perhaps it could be argued that most would at least want attention for their work. I do know a few artists (SL and RL – including rather famous ones in both realms) that aren’t interested in personal attention, and keep rather private existences. They (amazingly) want attention to be on the work, rather than narcissistic behaviour. However I’d certainly say that in the case of SaveMe and Igor, yes, they both want attention.

    Again, I think questioning whether the bathtub is art is a moot point. It IS art by virtue of its display in the museum space. The notion that putting something in a museum or gallery makes it art is a problematic one first challenged by Duchamp’s Fountain in 1917 (hmm, scratch that, let’s go back to the Salon des Refusees!). But again, I personally find that question a futile debate.

    “I disagree with Rowan in his opinion about Igor’s art. He is rightly revered for his works. They are of immense profundity which hardly could be found anywhere else and as far as I know these works, they never show their whole meaning on the first glance.”

    A few clarifications. First, I’m female. The picture is not in drag.

    Next… are you buying into Igor’s interpretation of what I said? Right, let me be a little more clear. This post is about the current incident, not a critical review of every work they’ve ever done. I did say that I love SOME of his work. Igor was correct when he commented that I had told him how great some of his pieces were. My failing – as it ever is – comes when I go on about what I think is great, but reserve my more critically negative opinions only for when they are requested (and other artists who have asked can certainly tell you that THEN I don’t hold back). So I guess Igor was under the perception that I was a fan. ‘Axis Mundi’ and others like it are, to me, profound. Others, not so much. In fact, I hope to attend his opening today (if he doesn’t rise from the grave and have me banned from it), and I honestly hope that I am blown away by how awesome his work there is (I ALWAYS hope this!). If I am, I’ll write something here. If I’m not, I’ll keep quiet about it as usual.

    What I was trying to say when I said ‘I don’t get the fuss’ was the kind of Igor-worship I’d seen here and there. There are only a few artists in SL where I DO get the fuss in fact (AM, Bryn, Scottius, and Eliza come to mind, but that list is not conclusive, just obvious). You may revere Igor, but I tend to think of him like most other artists – some pieces work, others not so much. If Igor wasn’t currently feeling so sensitive, I don’t think he would disagree with that. Perhaps when he calms down, he’ll see this post as the honest critique it was meant for, instead of what he THINKS it must be, some bizarre revenge.

    “That leaves the final question: Does anyone have a right to demand SaveMe’s exclusion from SL?”

    Spot on! And may I say that the rest of what you say here absolutely rocks. Your experiences sound fascinating and I do hope you write that book some day. I especially love this:

    “Legal certainty and freedom of expression / art are the largest and most sacred treasures of modern culture and must be defended at all costs. And just in our little global village SL should an artist be banned because someone else feels itself under attack? This is unacceptable for me and the first step to fascism. Who is here to determine what is art and what is not, who may exhibit and who not, how shall be presented and how not?”

    So true. This is why I felt moved to write the piece at Prim Perfect when Rose and Misprint were banned from SL8B last year (Prim Perfect has more than 3.5 readers, too, which is nice).

    I’ll make one last comment here, regarding Igor and his work – I DO think Igor is a complete idiot for running out of SL, because clearly his work (and even he himself) was much loved and appreciated by many. If it truly doesn’t matter what others think, why leave? Now, if he had grown tired of the whole thing, as his comments seem to indicate, fair enough – it happens, and others have been exiting with grace. But why then have a friend send a note around blaming SaveMe? And if he did let her run him out of SL, then my only comment to him is GROW A PAIR. Jeez.

  10. Quan Lavender
    August 2, 2011

    OOPS, my apologies! 🙂 I was that sure that Rowan is a male name that I only wondered why this guy on the pic looks so female. *lol*

    And yes, I am the half reader 😉 You overinterperetate this, It was just a ironic reply on Igor’s ironic note. I am sure that your blog has more readers.

    So, let’s go through the topics. I did not catch what you asked about the partners, I meant SaveMe and Igor. If I expressed wrongly, pls feel free to edit.

    I totally agree with your words about art. But we have to face the the fact that many say what SaveMe does , ist NOT art. Therefore we have to discuss that topic. My goal was to show, that SaveMe ist not just a stand alone idiot. This kind of work is derived from a long movement of avantgardistic art.

    I immediately come to Intervention and Fluxus. I think you agree that Fluxus is a successor of Dada. But I cannot call a movement just historical, when Schlingensief in 2008 staged the premiere of “Church of Fear – A Fluxus Oratorio” with huge succes btw,. But I also felt unsure and googlet a bit. Maybe this discussion ist just scholary. The term Intervention is not that many used in German. But at the end we mean the same. I just wanted to point out that Fluxus is the only movement with a defined target which I mean to find in SaveMe’s work.

    And regarding Beuys, I just said that the tub is HIS most famous work, which is definetely true in my country. Of course there are many, many artists with many, many works of at least the same fame. And to clarify, I only talked about attention of the work. I never met so far an artist who did not seek for it. If they said they don’t, it either was a vain attitude or resignation because of lack of public interest.

    So let me just discuss one more point: In my studies of cultures and languages I experienced, that language massively influences the way of thinking. The word Art is in German ‘Kunst’, which is derived from ‘können’, literally translated ‘be capable’. When a German says “This is art” it automatically means good job. I just understood that I am not free from this thinking regarding my view on art. At the end of course evaluation of art is always a personal thing.

    To deal with with the public ist for artists always a difficult thing, but without audience art is useless. So I add a short poem which I found on the ‘Church of Fear’ site:

    I want to be all by myself some day.
    Alone on this earth.
    I want to stand by myself and stay by myself,
    This is my life.
    and then I’ll cry
    and i’ll be shattered.
    But at least I’ll have been all by myself this once.

  11. Rowan Derryth
    August 2, 2011

    Quan –

    First a SINCERE apology to you! I didn’t even notice that the 3.5 comment actually came from Igor first, lol. All comments on this blog are screened (for spam), and when I saw Igor’s I simply approved it as he has every right to be heard, but mostly scanned it myself. So I totally missed that first part (and it was was convoluted anyway). I’m really sorry.

    Also, thanks for all of this, it is actually really interesting and enlightening to me. You are correct that these terms don’t just die, and my view is perhaps a bit too art historical, so thanks for helping me consider this from another view. I also like thinking about the differences in language and how they affect meaning… gesamtkunstwerk is a term I use often in my research, for example, as there isn’t a word to match it really.

    Thanks for your words!

    (And yes, Rowan is also a guy name – can be for both.) Cheers!

  12. Quan Lavender
    August 3, 2011

    Hi Rowan,

    thank you for the link to the German Pavillion at the Biennale. Today I took the time to look. I didn’t even know about it. And – coincedence – “Church of Fear” is main part of the installation which won the Golden Lion 🙂

  13. Pingback: How To Become A Popular Blogger? Let Others Write Your Blog! « SaveMe Oh’s Weblog

  14. SaveMe Oh
    August 20, 2011

    Igor, darling, thanks for your sign of still being alive in this blog. Why you choose such difficult ways to tell me that you deeply love me?

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This entry was posted on July 29, 2011 by in Art, Uncategorized.

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