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  • Simon Vine

The philosophies of contemporary art institutions, and celestial monarchies; an esoteric rant.



Contemporary art is in many ways the art of obfuscation. It begins with a promising image, adds to it a poetic idea, and then proceeds to make an attempt to create some profound mysticism around that idea. This seems to be the modus operandi of institutionally produced contemporary art. Superficially elitist might seem the best criticism, but it is best not to forget that it is exclusionary. How does it effect exclusion? The most effective approach to create an aura of exclusivity is jargon. Decide confidently on a set of classifications and use them to set up a hierarchy of worthiness. In this way you can make it clear to the common people that you breath the rarefied air of upper echelon theoretical art practices. It is not even necessary to know what you are talking about if you are standing on the right side of the line. Just peer down the full length of your nose like it was the north face of the Eiger, and then pronounce your chosen word with the distain of a Russian oligarch's child talking to a factory worker. Where can you turn once you are inside or outside of the circle? Some folks adore dogma, and this is fine for them, but others are happier thinking for themselves. It seems to me the greatest harm done by the insider trading of contemporary art is not even to the practice of art itself, but to the lives of those who are compelled to practice art. No industry is better at disarming it critics.

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