Aaron Rose / Beautiful Losers Exhibition Catalogue / August 1, 2004

The following article is an excerpt from a larger article entitled "Least Likely to Succeed," which, written by Aaron Rose, appeared in an exhibition catalogue for Beautiful Losers in August 2004.

The Mistakists

I'll never forget the first time Harmony Korine walked into my gallery. It was during a Mark Gonzales show and he and Mark were friends. They had met through skateboarding and had been collaborating on zines and other funny little projects. It was 1993 and Harmony was a fine arts major at New York University. He proposed a project that was like nothing I had ever heard. His concept was simple. He wanted to build a cage in the middle of the gallery and hire a midget to sit inside during gallery hours. A neon sign would be hung above the cage that would read "Spit o the Midget." I remember thinking the idea was completely insane but, at the same time, I understood it completely. Harmony was of the belief that the freaks of nature in this world awee actually God's special people. By using humor, he was forcing people to confront their prejudices. Although this particular installation never materialized, that conversation sollified a relationship. Harmony talked a lot about a new movement in art he was spearheading called Mistakism. It was based on the theory that the only real magic in art was found in the accidents, that mistakes were where the real creative spirit manifested itself. I understood the theory completely and it made perfect sense given the context of the way I was running the gallery. It also applied to a good majority of the artists we were showing. Mark Gonzales was a perfect example of Mistakism in action. Mark was a dyslexic poet. He couldn't spell at all! Yet it was in his misspellings that made you laugh and cry at the same time. Mark and Harmony would walk around the streets of New York with a video camera acting like retarded people filming each other accosting strangers. It was totally juvenile, butthere was an artistic agenda there. There were, of course, Situationist precedents to this kind of action, but these guys were doing it in a completely new way. Their influences were coming much more from the antics portrayed in skateboard videos than anything in art history. Even though Harmony was the only one to actually call himself a Mistakist, the idea behind the aesthetic applies to many artists in this group. Cross-outs, screw-ups, and misspellings areare found across the board, particularly in the work of those artists coming out of the skateboard world. It goes back to the honesty of the creative act, the evidence of the human hand, and the inherent fallibility of man taking precedence over all else.