Review: Art

4 mins read


I’ve been thinking about this promised art-apocalypse that feels like it’s never going to come. I remember hearing, in eloquent and well-argued statements, that the recession was going to wipe out all the trash-art, the gimmicky, trending, magazine-friendly-as-a-mode stuff. I’m sick of the phrases “everyone is a photographer,” “everyone is a DJ” and especially (obviously), “everyone is a writer.” I thought that the one glaring “benefit” the US got from the Bush administration and the war and recession and all that was some redistribution of wealth—and whatever form of culture-refreshing that comes with it. And I thought that that meant trust-fund kids were going to stop ejaculating on canvases. The only thing that I’ve seen happen so far was the deaths of several of these “anti-art artists” or whatever they are, the ones that I don’t want to call shock-value artists, because I don’t feel shocked by them, but that are seen more in tabloids than they are in Art/Book Forum, and that date models, not musicians, and blog nonsense, so you know they’re not educated or even aware of what movement they’ve joined themselves. And their young deaths have just gotten them more attention. I’m thinking of anyone who has overdosed and is pretty much famous for being blasé and making stuff that is supposed to reflect that. Don’t get me wrong: I like the idea that as the MTV generation we can mash up and gloss over anything, and create meaning from those actions. Sometimes, though, I feel like our job as citizens of our own time and place is to organize the material we have available, maybe recycle some stuff, fill in the gaps of postmodernism, and start creating with the intent of making clear definitions of art again. Maybe we need to come up with better monetary systems that provide for the talent and dispense with the garbage. I like that in most galleries I’ve been to lately, retrospectives are up: New photographs of The Factory, collections of performance art videos, and the best art from 1969. I like that the art being shown is representing not only a set period in history, but education itself, by standing in for some of the stuff being made lately. It’s as if curators are saying they don’t want to invest in anything new, so they’re showing the artists of today what used to cut it, in order to inspire them to make the grade. I hope, like everyone else, that art doesn’t lose funding in the wrong areas. But I think that if less money was put into insisting that anyone can become a successful author, maybe more of the fittest would survive. That sounds like it could be at least invigorating to the medium. I’ve heard lots of people for this idea in the music world, complaining that they have to sift through too much crap to get to the good, and that everyone who owns a laptop should not be allowed to make an album. I’ve heard less complaints connected to the writing and visual arts worlds, but less people talk about those anyway.

-Natasha Stagg