Is the impresario of Slacker art really a slacker?
The daisy chain of slackers in the Richard Linklater film are determined to withdraw, to sit it out, to pass. “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy,” they chant.
The slackers in Slacker are immobilized by the repetition and interchangeability of themselves and the world around them, where they find only morbid indifference. Hence, the script swipes Joyce: “If he had smiled why would he have smiled? To reflect that each one who enters imagines himself to be the first to enter whereas he is always the last term of a preceding series even if the first term of a succeeding one, each imagining himself to be first, last, only and alone whereas he is neither first nor last nor only nor alone in a series originating in and repeated to infinity.”
And when the world stirs from its icy disregard, it responds with hostility. In Slacker, society entails that men will traumatize women, women will “fuck you over,” travel is dangerous, and war is so inevitable that activists can’t keep up with their protest graffiti. Everyone else just trades in his soul for work in one assembly line or another, even just to make Subway sandwiches. “Every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death,” hisses the creepy chainsmoker straight out of prison.
“My original idea was to make conceptual art entertaining, sloppy, emotional, human and funny. Over the years I got so far out on this conceptual limb that I went around full circle until I was a traditional artist again. I tried to be ironic about it but eventually became sincere. Now I’m a happy victim of my own charade. I figure that it’s better to be a sucker who makes something than a wise guy who is too cautious to make anything at all.”
His world still hasn’t acknowledged its greatest living artist, him. It is as frustrating as the bouncer not letting the rock star into the hotspot nightclub. Through his prolific output of paintings, drawings, writing, sculptures, and videos, Sean Landers has vented his rants, diatribes, and ramblings. The result is a cacophonous echo chamber of fanatic opprobrium. The razor-edged tool he uses to relay his chronic skepticism works more like a boomerang than a frisbee. He has devalued the world around him – “us” – for neglecting his genius, but then defames that same genius with the fervor of a chimp grooming Pigpen.
New Museum seems close, but maybe too close since Sean Landers bought his loft from the estate of Marcia Tucker, the museum’s founder (who once curated a show on Bad Painting). Spiraling toward the heavens, the ramps of the Guggenheim would herald the advent of the self-identified greatest artist of all time, and the sense of infinitude when combing through his endless volumes of legal-pad works - while mimicking the downward spiral of too much introspection.
P.S. Another quote from Slacker: “Because I mean, like it’s some sort of spiritual hell to parody yourself at the hight of your ridiculousness. So the guy’s got to get up every day, get as fat as he was, and just make fun of himself all day long. isn’t that a killer job – don’t you think that’s what all old people do…once they get over twenty-eight?”