Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Who or What is Paper Rad?

Having the upcoming Pittsburgh Alumni Show has made me think a lot about labels and identities. Pittsburgh is a city that over a relatively short period, lost nearly half it's urban population to "greener pastures". Moreover it's a place deeply scarred by a deep sense of loss, mourning and anger over it's fall. it's not like everyone has left and far from it but there is a feeling that somehow it's best and brightest were gone. That feeling seemed confirmed by the gleeming success of so many after they left. You just feel how the city feels angry at itself for not being good enough or offering enough opportunity to retain people. Having outstanding schools seems to have only compounded the wounds as the city watches thousands of star students from all over the world who seem to be just passing on thier way to -- well anywhere but here.
Perhaps if there had been more jobs or more stadiums or well if the city had brushed it's teeth or enlarged it's breasts or something.

So it seems like there is a constant need to point out and take credit for the sucessfull people who stayed. Endless debates rage about the demographic trend of the city and how to retain it's own.Then along comes something like Paper Rad and makes one wonder just how one defines identity and location. Do they live here? Well, kind of -in a way sort of- some of them?

Paper Rad is a free floating mystery; a group of artists that seem to resist any attempt at labeling. Are they publishers or performance artists or video artists ? And who are they and can any place claim them as resident's? What's even more interesting is trying to find thier motives.
Collectives seem to be a rage but many smack as very tightly organized and orchestated publicity mongers-- a new business plan for success. But here you seem to have a group of people who see blending and merging an end in itself. There seem to be three core people, but if you look at thier website you see the definate hands of other guests flow back into the group without much hype or concern. There's a lesson here somewhere.

Here, here, here , are some various stories about this enigma wraped in a mystery. And then more, more, more and also more, more.

And it looks like the merging and blurring of location and identity is starting to confuse a lot of people. The Curators of the last Whitney Biennial of American Art decided that figuring out who could be called an American artist was just too hard and made it an International.
(As far as I know all future Whitney Biennials will be Interntionals) Here's The Voice review of that show--"Crossing swords with conventions that have brought us to the brink of madness".

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