Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The world's first conceptual outsider artist or an eccentric isolate from Texas?
For an artist about whom virtually nothing is known, reams of paper and pixels have been devoted to the mysterious representative from Corwood Industries. Don't believe me? There is a wikipedia entry for each of Jandek's 53 albums; an honor not shared by, say, Eric Clapton. Jandek exists somewhere between the usually separate worlds of outsider art and brand marketing, tirelessly promoting himself through massive mailings of his self-produced albums to college radio stations in the 1980s and 90s while simultaneously constructing a musical and photographic portrait of an artist so singular, so vulnerable, and so odd as to defy description. In doing so he built up a cult following that adheres to the literal meaning of the term (an excerpt from a fan site describing the cover of this album: "[...]In the lower left is the corner of a piece of furniture (a table?) with a cup or candleholder sitting on it. It looks like he’s in dense fog, except he’s indoors. Actually, it might be just his shadow[...]"; it goes on and again there is an entry for each album).
It has been said that Jandek manages to fall within the traditions of "Blues" and American "Folk" or "Primitive," somehow without sounding anything like them, and that's as good a description as I can manage. Leap in with both feet and you won't be disappointed.
One Foot In The North