Worth the Drive, The Gist edition: Dave Hickey tonight at USF

So yeah, we're kind of biting Orlando Music News' current Worth the Drive series here, but we hope they don't mind us tagging along.

It's a bit of a drive, but if you can get away, art-world provocateur Dave Hickey's lecture tonight at University of South Florida (Tampa) is sure to be epic. Calling Hickey an art critic is kind of like calling Matt Taibbi a business reporter – it's true, but it's only the barest minimum description. Similar to Taibbi's shit-stirring takedowns (remember when he called Goldman Sachs "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money"? Oh, sweet nostalgia), Hickey has little patience for pretense or political correctness – but great energy for skewering those who indulge in either. Sample Hickey quote: He told The Believer in 2007, “I think you want to learn about art because you had an experience of some sort – a totally non-redemptive but vaguely exciting experience, like brushing up against a girl with big boobs in the subway.”

Touring on his latest book of essays, Pirates and Farmers, Hickey has plucked the topic of its most controversial chapter for this talk: "Identity art was the product of bureaucratic protocols at the NEA. In the high times of political correctness, panelists were instructed to privilege women, gays and people of color. The underlying agenda of this mystification was to un-marginalize artists whether they wanted to be un-marginalized or not. Therefore, to achieve the blessing of the white establishment, you had to confess to them some aspect of your 'otherness'— a cruel joke that died of its arrogance and poisoned a generation."

This is gloves-off kinda stuff for a generation of artists and academics who've come up steeped in PC culture, and the Q&A sessions at Hickey lectures often start a "lively discussion" (that's what they call a spit-flying shoutfest in graduate-degree circles). Whether you wholeheartedly agree with Hickey's iconoclastic stance or think he's just a grumpy old white guy, this lecture is worth the drive for anyone interested in the politics of the contemporary art world.


7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2 (tonight)

USF Contemporary Art Museum, 3821 Holly Drive, Tampa

(813) 974-4133



And if you can't make it, there are countless Hickey videos out there – here's one from 2010 titled "Stupid Money: Cultural Patronage in America":

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