Julio Cesar Morales, artist and curator at the ASU Museum, talks about:

Living in the sometimes conservative culture of Phoenix; his move from San Francisco – where he curated for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and co-created the artist-run space Queen’s Nails – to Arizona, and why he made it; the fire that occurred at Queen’s Nails as a result of exhibiting a massive number of flaming matchsticks in the shape of the U.S., a piece by the art collective Claire Fontaine, and the ensuing fines he and his partner had to deal with; curating a George Kuchar film retrospective; and his Undocumented Interventions series, which led to discussion about immigration, border crossing and the future of the international drug trade.

  • Collin Bradford

    This was a really interesting conversation, but I found the talk about interacting with scary conservatives to be smug and echo-chamber-y. I think the interesting questions aren’t about how to stay encased in politically homogeneous communities (coded as finding people who share our values), but how it might be possible to engage in real exchange across difference. Is art’s only role with people on the left because those on the right are unlikely to want to engage? (I’m not asking that with a predetermined answer. I think there’s a chance that the answer is yes, but I think it should be challenged and pushed around to see if it actually is.) Or are there ways that contemporary work can be made accessible and relevant to the broader community in conservative areas?
    BTW, thanks for the podcast. Not complaining, just trying to add to the dialogue.

    • theconversationartpodcast

      Hi Collin, very articulately put, thank you for your thoughtful comment.
      I’m interested in making both work and conversation accessible to a/the broader community, though there are some built-in barriers, or cultural walls, that are so long-standing that the segmentation is often taken for granted. I don’t recall either Julio or myself being what you refer to as smug or echo chamber-y, so maybe you can site the specific comments made? As much as I, and I assume Julio, am a hardcore lefty, I wouldn’t ever consciously alienate a whole political affiliation, but it certainly could (and maybe) has happened, if very infrequently.
      Anyway, I welcome more of your thoughts, and many thanks again for writing.

      • Collin Bradford

        Yeah, it’s a sticky problem. I guess what I might have been responding to is that the way questions were framed, particularly around 7 -10 minutes in, had as an implied subtext that art is for liberals. (I know that it’s largely true that liberals are the ones who more frequently choose to engage with art, but just like protecting the environment doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, a partisan issue, I’d love to see the art world conceive of itself more broadly than for liberals.) I can tell that you were wrestling with it yourself a little bit (e.g., around 7:45, as you seem to be debating whether to say things bluntly or soften them regarding Phoenix’s conservatism. But “How would you describe the general culture of Phoenix” is framed in terms of liberal vs. conservative politics rather than in terms. And then following up on that, asking about the people he interacts with outside the museum, if they’re people who share his values. Maybe it’s because I have known lots of conservatives (some of them really intelligent and thoughtful, that I’m sensitive to this – I think the way this was all framed would just confirm to conservatives that the art world has such an inherent bias that they would have no desire to engage with art.

        But maybe that’s just the way it is. Cuauhtémoc Medina’s essay in e-flux, Contemp(t)orary, makes a really good case that contemporary art serves a really important role as a last refuge for radicalism in a neoliberal world.

        “In a world where academic circuits have ossified and become increasingly isolated, and where the classical modern role of the public intellectual dwindles before the cataclysmic power of media networks and the balkanization of political opinion, it should come as no surprise that contemporary art has (momentarily) become something like the refuge of modern radicalism. If we should question the ethical significance of participating in contemporary art circuits, this sole fact ought to vindicate us.”
        http://www.e-flux.com/journal/contemptorary-eleven-theses/'s essay

        Maybe I’m just wishing for the impossible, for us in the art world to be that refuge for radicalism while not sealing out those who don’t already agree with us politically.

The Conversation // Art Podcast © 2015