FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Declare it Art Announces Secret Partnership and Performance with St. Louis’ Contemporary Art Museum
ST. LOUIS, MO (October 13, 2016) – In the wake of the outrage involving Kelley Walker’s racially charged solo exhibition “Direct Drive” at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, it has been announced that the entire show, and even the artist himself, were all part of a separate meta-artist’s work, created in partnership with the museum. The artist behind the curtain created this museum-wide, multidimensional piece explicitly to bring issues of white privilege and appropriation to the forefront of a conversation about modern art and its role in St. Louis.
The genre-busting piece entitled “Indirect Drive” was only officially announced on October 13, with the reveal of an artist’s statement unceremoniously placed on a wall of the museum. The statement explained that the artist “Kelley Walker” was actually an actor hired by the meta-artist. Not only was the entire solo exhibition merely a piece of this larger work, all of CAM’s reactions to the public outcry that followed were meticulously planned. Everything, up to and including the infamous Q&A session, and curator Jeffrey Uslip’s antagonistic, cowardly behavior (climaxing with his resignation), were all elements of the grand performance of “Indirect Drive.”
“Credit should goes to CAM for partnering with me for this incredible interactive piece. They weren’t afraid to temporarily come off as the bad guys, and they really looked terrible,” said the artist. “Really though, the true heroes of this work are the people of St. Louis who spoke out against the exhibition and shamed the museum for displaying it. They’re the final, and most important, ingredient. Without them the show would have been a complete, stomach churning failure.”
“Indirect Drive” will continue to be shown at CAM through the end of the 2016… maybe.
Read Declare it Art’s full artist statement below:
This piece, purposely misrepresented as a solo exhibition known as “Direct Drive”, is meant to “hold the mirror up to” issues of white privilege and “florid bullshit” that permeate the modern art world. The artist behind this meta-work employed an actor who took on the role of “Kelley Walker”, a fictional Caucasian artist who appropriates photography, some of it portraying dark periods of civil rights struggle and other racially charged imagery, and halfheartedly rotates and/or smears the photos with chocolate, toothpaste, or other similar materials. The satire becomes clearer when, during a standard artist Q&A session, the actor playing “Walker” grows aggressive in his performance, and he is unable to answer basic questions that would justify the use of such heated imagery.
It wasn’t enough to merely create a fictional artist who lazily co-opts racial issues for attention and acts as though he is pushing the boundaries of art that in reality have been thoroughly explored for the last 100 years. The meta-artist also partnered with CAM, and asked them to pretend to come to “Walker’s” aid. They feigned to defend his work, despite his inability to explain himself, and dismissed people of color who argued that he trivialized their experiences and was profiting off of their collective horrors. By having an establishment such as CAM defend “Walker”, they took on the role of the system itself, one that dehumanizes and dismisses black experiences, while simultaneously profiting off of their pain.
In a comical twist, CAM used a variety of “florid meaningless bullshit” phrases to justify the art. Favorite satirical defenses include explanations like: “[his work] hold[s] the mirror up to our current society”, and the delicious postmodern copout: “Kelley is not telling us what to think — one way or another — […] he is allowing his practice to help us think through the issues of our time”. “Walker” himself, before the outrage began, was told to disingenuously dismiss the notion that he dealt with race issues at all, stating that he “think[s] [he] deal[s] with the body more so than race”.
The meta-artist behind this complex, multilayered experience would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the engaged, socially conscious St. Louis community for steering this work in exactly the right direction. Indeed, “Indirect Drive” would have been a complete failure (perhaps an outrage) were it not for those who lifted their voices in dissent to it.