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Rethinking Failure

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The title piece, Would You Rather Be a Loser or a Pig? offers the viewer an extreme choice between one of two free bracelets: one reads "Loser," the other reads "Pig," reflecting the increasing tendency within the art world to define achievement solely in terms of financial earnings and conspicuous consumption.

Faced with the choice by Jennifer Dalton I took the coward's way out chosing a bracelet from the offered box blindly and came up a "PIG". If I'd only known this years ago...

This choice was driven home today when it was suggested that what I see as my dedication and lack of concern for creature comforts for future success may in fact be a neurosis in need of serious therapy. Prior to that I was told my questioning of current art world careerism was only whining and jealousy and a refusal to "play the game".

There's got to be some middle ground here or else the current state of mediocrity in contemporary art is going to be permanent.

Brian Sholis was thinking along these lines in his blog today when he quoted a review of an exhibit of the work of Lee Lozano in the September 2006 Artforum. Lozano famously ditched the art world (and stopped talking to women altogether) in order to have the last laugh and, ultimately, effect real change. That seems reasonable to me, but then I'm crazy you know. I'm in denial.

I'm as competitive and ambitious as the next guy and never intended to find myself, at my age, in worse financial shape than when I started out; moving to New York on a whim with $300 I'd earned over the summer to my name -- $300 sure went a lot farther in those days.

Still, I wouldn't change my situation if it meant I couldn't stand my ground even if, in the end, I only have the last laugh. Here's to you Lee Lozano!