Front Cover: Bas Jan Ader, I'm Too Sad To Tell You, 1971
16 mm film transferred onto DVD
3 minutes 21 seconds
Courtesy Bas Jan Ader Estate, Patrick Painter Editions,
Vancouver and Perry Rubensteing Gallery, New York

Back Cover: Bas Jan Ader, Broken Fall (Organic), 1971
Silver gelating print
18 x 25 inches
Courtesy Bas Jan Ader Estate, Patrick Painter Editions,
Vancouver and Perry Rubensteing Gallery, New York


Sincerity is a peculiar word, hinged on idiosyncratic elucidations of meaning, further muddled by flaccid attempts at definition:

SINCERITY (n) 1: an earnest and sincere feeling [syn: earnestness, seriousness] 2: the quality of being open and truthful; not deceitful or hypocritical; "his sincerity inspired belief," "they demanded some proof of my sincerity" [ant: insincerity] 3: a quality of naturalness and simplicity; "the simple sincerity of folk songs" [syn: unassumingness] 4: the trait of being serious; "a lack of solemnity is not necessarily a lack of seriousness" - Robert Rice [syn: seriousness, earnestness, serious-mindedness] [ant: frivolity]?1

Nowhere above, however, does the issue of effectthe consequences of an act of sincere intentcome to bear. To be perfectly frank, I think an equal dose of sincerity resides in gestures as contrary as opening a door for a stranger, sending your grandmother flowers on her birthday, committing ritual suicide or hand delivering a letter bomb to an abortion clinic. Perhaps this is why the notion of sincerity remains fugitive in both society and the visual arts. Sincerity seems to reside in the impetus of an act or gesture, for better or worse, and that impetus may or may not mesh with the surrounding ethical milieuor, more importantly, one's own predilections.

Through the eighties, nineties and currentlyyears filled with continuous war, famine, genocide, pandemics, mind-blowing natural disasters, rampant and undifferentiated fear, panic, terror and doubtlimp notions of "beauty" and "the sublime" rule the art world, both critically and in practice. Do they exist as a counterpoint to the world at large or is this sheer frivolity, denial in the face of a collapsing world order? Although I have to admit I do believe a work of art can and should be allowed to exist for the sheer sake of pleasure, does the fact that artists the world over are currently addressing sincerityand being both embraced and questioned about the sincerity of their intentsignify a shift in the Zeitgeist? And, if we assume artistic intent is frozen at the moment of conception, I think sincerity resides not so much in a work of art as in its reflection. Sincerity (artistic intent) is reactivated and foregrounded by the viewer's responsewhether that takes the shape of pathos, wonder, intrigue or outrage.

In this issue, independent curator Regine Basha embraced the opportunity to pin down the ambiguous nature of sincerity in the visual artsan ambitious undertaking by anyone's standards. Until very recently, Basha was Adjunct Curator at Arthouse at the Jones Center in Austin; she is the co-founder of Fluent~Collaborative, also based in Austin. Basha selected each contributorwriters, curators and artists Dave Bryant, Alejandro Cesarco, Rachel Cook, Sam de la Rosa, Harrell Fletcher, Terence Gower, Christopher K. Ho, Stuart Horodner, Sina Najafi, Linda Norden, November Paynter and Michael Smithwith a characteristically deft curatorial hand; her section is fluid, diverse and parallels the mercurial quality of the topic in question.

The remainder of the features section varies widely in tone and focus. In this issue's POINT OF VIEW piece, linguist, philosopher and critic James Bae contemplates the very production of art as a sort of "coping strategy," a telling contrast to the tone of the features included in the Sincerity section of the magazine. Equally alluring are the ruminations of the ever-engaging Jerry Saltz, extracted from a lecture Saltz delivered last fall for the second installment of Artlies' Annual Critics Lecture Series.

And, finally, in an experiment of sorts, I combined this issue's installment of MAPPINGS and PROJECT SPACE, pairing writer Tucker Teutsch 3.0 (don't ask) and photographer and filmmaker Bill Danieltwo complete strangers who happened to be doing relief work at the same timeto produce a verbal and visual portrait of post-Katrina New Orleans. The union of Teutsch's prose and Daniel's images is at once eloquent and jarringand, by no coincidence, heart-wrenchingly sincere. And though I genuinely doubt the future of art is activism, given contemporary art's inextricable ties to the market system, Teutsch and Daniel's project gave even this jaded editor a smidgen of hope: the notion that art has the potential not only to move us but to actually validate itselfas opposed to merely flattering itselfas a social medium.

Anjali Gupta

1 From an email communication between Regine Basha and artist Alejandro Cesarco