Sunday, October 03, 2004

This is an interesting take on the direction the new MoMA takes. And on the ever-thorny "Art" question we (well, maybe just most) of us live inside.


Art is ripe for a symmetry break - a shattering into a myriad of different narratives which are incompatible, in the sense that they require coherence. And coherence is the one thing that any "let's all play nice in the sandbox" era can't abide by. It must be incoherent by definition, since incoherence is the defense of the establishment against one part kicking another part. Incoherence means there is no moral imperative to artistic activity.

And that is what bases the new narrative of art: art is what we do, it is the sphere of activity. It does progress to the extent that it can acquire, and keep, techniques and ideas - and to the extent that it can create audiences for artists. And it is for this reason that art has been going backward, not because of what is being done, but because what is being done really does have a meta-narrative, as much as the people doing "contemporary" art want to deny it.

Art, in the present moment, is the study of people who live, in the garden of media. Just as the Romantic studied people molded by nature, and the Victorian people molded by society, and the Modern people molded by the new urbanity - the Post-modern man, and the new POMA - are people molded by the artifacts of living in a mass manufactured world as isolated individuals. It is for this reason that contemporary art looks so self-indulgent, even when it is not, because the "self" is the only narrative that any artist can recognize - every artist is forced, by the way we do art now, to have a self-narrative, which can be told without reference to any narrative.

This, of course, is a narrative in itself.

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