CAVS Fellow David Robbins on The Mysterious Utah Monolith

David Robbins, Accrochage
ACT at MIT

Artist, comedian, and writer David Robbins (CAVS Fellow 2007-08) was recently interviewed in the Milwaukee Record about the mysterious Utah Monolith. Robbins’ primary area of practice included writing and intersections between artists and the entertainment industry.

Below is an excerpt from the interview by John Riepenhoff:

JR: The discovery of an anonymous object in the middle of nowhere parallels the ending of your recent book, Accrochage. Something must be in the air.

DR: So it seems. The object happened upon at the end of Accrochage is more inventive, hopefully, than the Utah monolith, with its ersatz 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe. I suppose whoever authored that Utah monolith may have been interested in playing like a tuning fork the popular culture coordinates of the mysterious monolith in 2001, but I find it corny. I think most people do. If the point was to render an “alien” mystery of that kind banal, then bravo, but I doubt that was the intent.

JR: Why do you think an art object in the middle of nowhere has resonance now?

DR: Anonymity is a big part of it. We are constantly barraged with brands, and the art world, which purports to be a bubble of anarchy, offers no respite from that. Famous artists are brand names, and young artists are encouraged to find their brand. It’s a side-effect of the evolution from “art world” to “art system,” which itself is part of the ongoing process of absorbing contemporary art production into the global culture industry. But an anonymously made object of a certain sophistication, happened upon in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t lend itself to that kind of thinking. Consequently it’s a hit of pure oxygen. We don’t know who made it, we don’t know why it’s in that location, we don’t know the intent. There’s no brand. An anonymous object in the middle of nowhere eludes the art system. That’s appealing at a time when a lot of people are interested in identifying ways to protect art from the art system.

Read the full interview here.