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Brad Tucker: “Opportunity Knocks”


I’ve been thinking about Brad Tucker‘s show at Art Palace, "Opportunity
," a lot lately. It took me much too long to confidently decide
how I felt about it, and I’m sad to report, it’s not a happy feeling.

don’t like this show. I have problems with it. My main problem is that
Tucker’s work lacks conviction. I don’t buy it, Brad. I don’t get the
impression that he "means it." Maybe part of my problem is that nothing
in "Opportunity Knocks" feels emotionally expressive or communicative.
I don’t know what the point is in any of this other than art production
for art production’s sake.

The Secret Life Of Death, 2007

"The Secret Of Life And Death, 2007," based on a 1985 text by Allen Ruppersberg,
a video sculpture with three TV sets and assorted painted panels is
obviously influenced by the early days of video art, when the
television set ruled supreme, and the sheer thrill of the recorded
image seduced an entire generation of artists to create video.
Obviously, Tucker is aware of these histories, of the forms
and configurations in which the television image and apparatus has been
used in the past by artists who had far more to say than him. It seems
like Tucker completely embraced the tired trope of video as
intrinsically narcissistic
, then missed the irony and self-deprecation
in that statement. The worst part is how awkward and uncomfortable with
his own image he appears. It’s not fun watching him struggle through an
incomprehensible musicalization of Ruppersberg’s
list of "general and specific comments and questions for artists."  The
omission of a comprehensible version of this list from Art Palace,
while probably a result of copyrights issues, only intensifies my
impression of Tucker’s lack of conviction in his work and a weaselly
impression that he’s covering his weaknesses with art history.

All, 2007,” "a 16 page, hand printed book of picture-puzzles
inspired by courtroom jargon" also feels like production for
production’s sake. It feels like product. It feels like industry. The
way it has been installed make sit hard to read the jargon that Tucker
seems so interested in, complicating to the point of negating any sort
of entryway into the work for the viewer.

I don’t think that Tucker doesn’t probably have talent. I don’t want to
give the impression that the work is of bad quality or badly produced
(that word again!). But I’m terribly frustrated by Tucker’s apparent
disregard for an audience. If you are not willing to let the viewer
into the work, if all you want to do is pretend it’s 1978 while you
gaze at your navel that’s fine, but don’t expect me to care for the
work. Why won’t you let us in, Brad? How are we supposed to care for
you if you won’t care for us?

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17 Responses

  1. jpallas

    I haven’t been to see the Tucker show, so I will refrain from weighing in specific to that show. But I would like to strongly second the general rubric that artists should: a) be infinitely concerned with communicating with the/an audience and that b) artists should be using their work as way to address more pressing issues, not simply making art for art’s sake. So while I don’t know whether those comments apply to Brad’s show, I would like to take them as granted for art practice in general.

  2. Dylan

    I think some other problems with this show were the fairly shoddy installation. Poor attention to craft is something that is hard to get over, and unfortunately the content of the work was too weak to make up for it. My main problem was with the flatness of the installation. There was room to look behind the wall but no reward, no reason for exposing the structure, just a way to make an already small space even tighter. You could also see the wall kind of awkwardly bowing forward for no reason. However, I did enjoy the sculptures. They were by far the strongest elements of the show, succeeding in being oddly low-brow in a much more direct and succinct way than the wall of crappy paintings 3 TVs…But overall I found the show safe, surfacey, and unmemorable.

  3. payattention

    ***”Why won’t you let us in, Brad? How are we supposed to care for you if you won’t care for us?”

    Feeling tough after your first solo show, huh Ivan?
    If you wanted to ask him out on a date, you didn’t have to beat him up on the playground.

  4. salvo cheque

    I like the show.
    The rebus prints were fun to try and figure out. The sculptures were cool in their formality. The videos are difficult (sorry Ivan, video is Greek to me).
    It wasn’t until after going to the artist talk and reading your review that I understood why I like it. I feel like the awkwardness is the key to moving past the production for production’s sake. I see a conflation of a personal state and a more public “art” state of mind. Maybe I’m reading too much into it?
    Oh, and the shoddy installation matches the character of the rest of the work, I think.

  5. payattention

    No, the comment was homophilic…and quite necessary. I love love, but I hate hate, and Ivan seems a bit pent up. He’s the one calling names. Perhaps it’s just his desperately bloggy way to provoke curious and lonely souls to seek out his solo show.

  6. Ivan L

    That’s absolutely ridiculous, payattention. If I was trying, in a “desperately bloggy way to provoke curious and lonely souls to seek out (my) solo show” I would write an entry about it and post pictures and video. You brought up the show. I didn’t and don’t plan on doing it.

    And exactly how is it “homophilic” to imply that sexual orientation is my underlying motivation for writing a review of a show made by a guy (and to assume that i want to “date” someone simply because of that)? If this was a comment directed at a female writer, it would be pretty blatant sexism. But besides that, it’s an ad hominem attack of my opinion on Tucker’s show.

    I made sure I mentioned the reasons I felt the way I did about the show. I encourage you to contradict my opinions on the show and to add your own thoughts, but please try to keep it on topic.

  7. payattention

    Actually, you did bring up your show…in your very last blog entry. You “let us in.” I followed the link to try to understand how “emotionally expressive and communicative” you were and all I saw was derivative, but I’m not deriding you, just your work.

    After I saw your work, I knew I could afford to be homophilic, because I love the same, same as you. You claim I put forth an “ad hominem attack of [your] opinion on Tucker’s show.” Your blog isn’t an opinion on a show, it’s an attack. Like loves like.

    So, I say again, All You Need Is Love. It’s a song/it’s a metaphor. You brought up the topic “mutual care for one another.” So address that: How do you reconcile an expectation of mutual respect between the artist and the viewer if you personally attack instead of expressing thoughtful opinions? Could it be that you have a crystal ball within which you can see artists’ conviction and emotional investment?

    And again, thanks for the link to your show. It really turns your blog product into, how did you phrase it, “production for art production’s sake”?

  8. Ivan L

    It’s somewhat foolish to call this blog art at all. It has no pretension of being that. As for my own “art production,” I don’t expect anybody who might want to write about it to hold their tongue, as long as what’s discussed is the work and the impressions of it. If this blog entry reads as an attack on B. Tucker, I apologize for that and will remove the parts that come off as aggressive and petty. So would you tell me, specifically, which parts of this post you object to?

  9. payattention

    “Writing sentences that piss you off is one I’m proud of.”

    “That’s absolutely ridiculous…”

    “It’s somewhat foolish to call this blog art at all.”

    Wow, with the insertion of that one little word—“somewhat”—it seems you might be softening into one of those writers/artists with a heart o’ gold.

    You write that the blog has “no pretension” of being art. Well maybe the blog doesn’t, but your intentions for the blog make it art. You are producing text. You are creating context. Text is product. Context is art. You seem to be trying to avoid pretensions while dancing around with the idea that it’s just a blog and you’re just freely blogging away; bloggers rules=no rules. But you’re THE MAN. You’re a hired pen, and GlassTire(d) is paying for your product and banking on the sensational edginess your artsy crafty product provides.

    So, sorry I can’t delineate the objectionable “parts” of your blog entry/product, because your product in its entirety is slanted with a malicious tone.

    I saw a bully and felt compelled to speak up. Sorry if that’s confusing for you.

    Just trying to spread the love!

    Happy VD, Ivan!


  10. payattention

    yeah. it’s all about me alright, blambth. that’s why I cuss and call names and craft snarky short phrases to keep the readers laughing…nope, that’s not me. I’m just a lonely soul in the crowd who finds a one-way smack-down ugly to witness. I simply want to encourage those that might have lost track about how they sound to payattention. kisses… and especially to you, alfitzgerald who also obviously likes to stick-up for the undefended. fight the good fight!

  11. payattention

    I guess it’s not really your fault, Ivan. A blog is an intimate space—a bedroom, say. Therein, you can trashtalk to your invited guests and anyone else who might get linked in to the incestuous connection. When your bedroom is plopped onto the front porch of GlassTire[d]’s house, however, it becomes problematic. If your “blog” resided in its own bandwidth and readers sought out your rants, that would be one thing; but your readers are inherited from the house/INSTITUTION of GlassTire(d), and you are PAID by said INSTITUTION for your bedroom antics.

    GlassTire[d] has created a sketchy little place on the front porch subtitled Blogs/Articles. I guess that’s pretty telling as to what is getting priority from the perspective of the INSTITUTION. (GlassTire[d]: How nice! We get all of the sensational blog buzz and we don’t even have to maintain editorial responsibility!) Even with the subtitle though, readers might feel disoriented. Am I reading a blog? Am I reading an article? It feels like a review, even if all he’s saying is…uh, I didn’t like it because I didn’t get it because I absolutely, positively know without a doubt that the artist doesn’t care about me. Those unfounded positions/opinions sound irresponsible, and you are/should be responsible if the INSTITUTION is paying you.

    So I guess I can move on, now. I’ve resolved my urge to participate in your “call to arms” (see next reference). There are things to love about your blog. For instance this sampling from your Austin New Year’s Resolution List (“Barking vs. Biting: getting shit done in 08”):

    – A great bookstore for artists (Domy anyone?).

    – More professionalism from everyone. I’m tired of half-assed juvenile behavior.

    Who doesn’t love books?
    And who could argue with your last hope?

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