Letters

Home Alone
After reading Dave Eggers' article "Home Is Where the Art Is, Unfortunately" (Art, Aug. 28), it was immediately obvious that the only thing of value in his critique of the Tony Labat installation "Apartment 305" was his description of the piece. Once he launched into his analysis, his article became an excuse to condemn abstract expressionism as a practice which is no longer relevant, because it "can no longer offend anyone anymore." My question is, why should it "offend" at this point in history, any more than minimalism or pop art could? If Labat has a philosophical problem with this moment in art history, this begs the question: If the art is irrelevant, then isn't a shallow critique of it 45 to 50 years later even more irrelevant?

Eggers' conclusion that Labat intends to critique the bourgeois collusion between abstract painting and wealthy collectors is unconvincing. His description of "Apartment 305," with its "black '80s furniture, with a TV, a VCR, a futon, and a ficus," left me wondering what he means by "wealthy." The installation sounds distinctly middle class. Closer to the point, it sounds like the dwelling of a student. Perhaps an art student who decorated the walls with his/her own paintings? Could Labat be critiquing the lifestyle and paintings of the typical art student? Judging from the description of the quality of Labat's paintings, perhaps this is closer to the point.

Jessica Snow
Russian Hill

No Escape
Michael Sragow's recent savaging of Escape From L.A. warrants some comment ("One-Shot Wonder," Film, Aug. 7). I don't have any problem with his not digging the movie, yet his review's tone borders on rabid hatred of John Carpenter and his admittedly wonky oeuvre.

Sragow calls Escape "reactionary." Reactionary because the police are presented as blacksuits armed not with guns, but video cameras? Reactionary because America is shown as a fascist dictatorship? Reactionary because it shows white yuppies being forced to play basketball under threat of death? How many recent American films have had the balls to mock the corporate octopus known as Disney? How many big summer action movies would present such a dark vision of this society?

Give Snake a break, man.
Christian Divine
Berkeley

Art From the Trenches
Ha ha ... well, Dave Eggers sure told Harry Roche off, didn't he ("Writer's Block," Art, July 31)? Yes, he cleverly took Roche to task for doing what he praised in another critic, namely (gasp) curating a show. So, he says "all evidence points to [the] robust health of the [painting] medium" and the "mighty theoretical juggernaut" of Clement Greenberg rolls on. (For the sake of those underprivileged readers who haven't had the pleasure of drowning in formalist art theory, Greenberg was a prime source of that tidal wave of hogwash.)

We're not going to defend Roche's show, since we weren't in it, it is indefensible. But Eggers, noted artist and critic, didn't really attack his show, he attacked his right to curate a show.

All critics are partisans, not just Harry Roche. The artists in this town know that Roche is accessible and open. He has been banned from writing about us by the idiots at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, who are as good at rationalizing their timidity as you are. As far as we are concerned, he is a warrior.

Frank Garvey, Director
Theater Concrete
San Francisco

 
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