“Whore Museums. Gutless Collectors. Blind Dealers. Alleged Artists.” So reads a 2012 canvas that artist Mark Flood included in a solo show that year at New York’s Zach Feuer Gallery. The Houston-based artist’s disdain for what he terms the “art bureaucracy” comes through loud and clear in that work, Endless Column, which applies the title of a canonical Brancusi sculpture to a 16-foot-tall canvas skewering his art-world colleagues. His text painting Institutional Clinique (2013) pokes fun at “institutional critique,” suggesting that even supposedly critical work is nothing more than high-priced lipstick on a pig.
In two projects in New York next month, Flood, 57, takes as his subject the omnipresent art fair and the red-hot contemporary art market. His “Insider Art Fair” (May 13-18) will occupy Chelsea’s 548 W. 22nd St. after it is vacated by the 2014 Outsider Art Fair. An exhibition, “Available NASDAQ Symbol” (May 9-June 14), will run downstairs in the same building, at Feuer, and will include text paintings as well as canvases that present manipulated corporate logos. The Feuer show’s title suggests skepticism about the market, though Flood himself has experienced retail success in recent years with his abstract “Lace Paintings,” which offer more conventional aesthetic appeal than much of his other work.
Flood discussed his work with A.i.A. via e-mail.
BRIAN BOUCHER From Dallas to Basel, from Hong Kong to Miami, art fairs increasingly dominate the art market and eat up more and more energy from art galleries. In your view, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Or neither? Or both?
MARK FLOOD The phenomenon of art fairs taking over the art world does not bother me. I find the brutality of the current art market refreshing, especially when compared with the hypocrisy of the museums, and the pretentiousness of the academic world. All the old art distinctions have broken down. Collectors are dealers. Consultants are curators. Galleries are museums and museums are auction houses. So I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if an artist, such as myself, became an art fair.
BOUCHER What do you plan to include in the Insider Art Fair?
FLOOD The Insider Art Fair is full of nothing but art by me, Mark Aurelius Flood; current work, future work, paintings, sculptures and certain wretched performances.
The only work by others that will be presented is some noise music generated by vacationing members of the West Coast band Rubber O Cement, which I have hired to hang out in my fair. And possibly some of the dance activity, performed by strippers and escorts I have hired to attend, may be considered art.
Obviously, my own private art fair is an occasion where I might perform certain meaningful and provocative actions, to amuse myself and my seven friends.
BOUCHER Will you be showing some of your “Lace Paintings”?
FLOOD Those works have become hotly sought commodities after achieving high prices at auction. I thought it would be remarkable to drag one on a rope around and around the circular track of my fair, while groups of persons, representing collectors, crawl desperately after it on their hands and knees.
I have also created a group of painting-shaped piñatas stuffed with cash money. At certain moments, I’d like to have some art lovers beat them with sticks, till they break and all the money flutters out.
My film crew will be filming these scenes, and others, for my first feature film, Art Fair Fever, currently in production.
Finally, I plan to attend the fair myself, once or twice, and I will paint some paintings, draw some drawings and autograph some of my books, including the latest, INSIDER ART FAIR SOUVENIR SURVIVAL GUIDE.