Thinking I ♥ Chabet Thru, Part 1

Angelo V. Suarez (AVS)
When we say we ♥ Chabet, we’re not being sarcastic, are we?

Donna Miranda (DM)
No, we’re not. I’ve always assumed that we were not from the very beginning even if we never really discussed it.

I assumed the same thing. But one of the artists who purchased the shirt had overtly called it out, mentioning the suspicion that we were being sarcastic. Any speculation as to why some think our fanhood is insincere, or at least dubious?

Well, first I’m guessing its because there is this default reading of many art(istic) actions as ironic. As if that were convention. Seems as though it has become this dominant frame of writing and reading things; almost to a point of cliche. But going back to our fanhood, I’m guessing its our proximity to Chabet that renders our fanhood as insincere or dubious.

But proximity isn’t at all something we possess in relation to Chabet — at least, not so much proximity but distance. Critical distance! Like we said in our earlier essay, being a fan requires critical distance, being outside of the idol’s or object of admiration’s immediate circle of acolytes. Is that it, the fact that we are not close enough to him to be so blunt about our fanhood? Is our declaration so blunt that it’s perverse to actually be sincere about it?

If we are to speak of filial and even professional proximity. But at the same time, neither can we ignore our proximity to Chabet, moving somewhat in the same community both as active insiders and detached outsider/observers. Thanks to social networking, like Facebook, where the possibility of being ‘friends’ with anyone is possible, by virtue of one’s other affinities, we do inhabit an approximate nearness to Chabet. And yes, it is precisely our critical distance, being both outsiders in the “Chabet community” that allows us this privilege of fanhood, one which I’m guessing his students, protege or even other artists informally ‘schooled’ under his wings cannot overtly express lest it be mistaken as a patronizing gesture. Its not as if we are ‘strangers’ to Chabet, or belong to a distinctively different social/cultural class to Chabet the way Gerald Anderson’s fans are to him. So don’t you think it is perhaps our ambivalent position between the inside and outside and not our distance that makes our fanhood look dubious?

Granted, our declaration of fanhood is dubious & we seem to be aware that even declaring our supposed purity of intent is equally suspicious — why still choose to pursue this? Doesn’t that self-consciousness put us in a position where one can easily refer to the entire project as some kind of art prank? Sure, fine, it’s sophisticated, but still just a prank. Or are we, in a sense, using the platform of the prank to launch an implicit critique?

Because its fun, happy, light-hearted and straight to the point: a direct expression of admiration. Even affection.

I mean, yes, we’ve always been conscious of the positioning of the work as a kind of critique — not of Chabet or his work per se, but of the apparent adoration he & his work receive — but does being conceived of as a prank render the enterprise sterile? Or to put it another way, does I ♥ Chabet restore some measure of agency back to the art prank, a mode of practice that has over the decades fallen in some kind of disfavor the same way the adjective “reactionary” has become insulting? I have to admit that even I might have been naive enough to not foresee that the work might be seen as insincere, as sarcastic, i.e., as a prank. Ranciere comes to mind, who argues that art praxis covered by what he terms the aesthetic regime is art that comes off as not art — that, in a sense, art must turn elsewhere for its ontology to hold. For art to remain art, it must cease to be such. By turning to the seemingly discredited (non-)tradition of the prank, is the project in a sense turning to this ‘elsewhere’ for the same reason?

But we weren’t even going for sophisticated, we knew that this had to have a certain crassness to it. A crassness that we were in fact pursuing, because this is the only way sincere and ethical expression of fanhood should be carried out. But more importantly, this enterprise raises questions of the production and distribution of art among the community of art practitioners.Take for instance the breadth of Chabet’s influence over his former students, who are now important movers in the art (economy) seems to be the only stable, if not “progressive” channel of art education in the country but still remains unrecognized by formal institutions and channels of art in the country.

But even the falsity of that breadth, for instance, is one thing the project — I think — seeks to make palpable: Is Chabet even really influential? Is the work that his former students churn out at par w/ the quality of work he himself has churned out over the years?


Wouldn’t we be swimming in amazing work right now if his influence were truly so broad?

And this is why I think a declaration of fanhood is the most appropriate and fit form of tribute to Chabet’s breadth of influence. The expanse of which has not really permeated the way of doing and thinking of art but one that has remained in the realm of admiration.

Hahahaha, w/c I suppose is really in the spirit of I ♥ Chabet — the performance of fanhood thru its declaration, analogous to Chabet’s influence being wide only because it has been declared to be wide. No need for empirical proof of it!

Tagged , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: