Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaires

The following imagery and artist statement were published in Red Wedge #5, “Bad Dreams” in Spring 2018.

The Barista Who Could See the Future, painting series and installation, on display at Gallery 210, St. Louis, MO (2017)

My work pivots from the following ideas and concerns:

  • Art was shamanistic in origin (under primitive communism).

  • The present day avant-garde is a “weak avant-garde” (see Boris Groys) detached from both the modernizing and utopian impulses of the modern avant-garde.

  • The solution to this weakness is a popular avant-garde that deals with the lives and concerns of the majority of the world (the working-class, the exploited and oppressed).

  • A viable strategy to combat the weak avant-garde is “narrative conceptualism;” putting the stories of working-class people up front in experimental artwork.

click for larger image

  • Such work can learn much from Bertolt Brecht’s ideas of epic theater; push and pull, alternating belief and disbelief, etc.

  • The art world’s “white cube” detaches art from its social context — presenting art as philosophically idealist and therefore bourgeois. Using the art space as a theatrical space reasserts both the political and existential aspects of art.

The Barista Who Could See the Future, painting series and installation, Gallery 210, St. Louis, MO (2017)

  • While a truly democratic art is not possible under capitalism, certain aesthetic strategies can assert or telegraph democratic aspirations better than others. The democratic image valorizes the exploited and oppressed and tears down the haughty and bourgeois.

  • The democratic image is a chaotic jumble — a carnivalesque interplay of identities and narratives.

Adam Turl is an artist and writer from southern Illinois (by way of upstate New York, Wisconsin, Chicago and St. Louis) living in Las Vegas, Nevada. His is the art and design editor at Red Wedge and an adjunct instructor at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. He has an MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, and a BFA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Turl’s most recent exhibitions include Revolt of the Swivel Chairs at the Cube Gallery (Las Vegas, NV 2018), The Barista Who Disappeared at Arspace 304 (Carbondale, IL 2018) and The Barista Who Could See the Future at Gallery 210 as part of Exposure 19 (St. Louis, MO 2017). In 2016 he received a fellowship and residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. Turl’s Instagram is adamturl_art. His website, which he shares with writer Tish Markley, is evictedart.com.