Hey all 😀
Actually right now I’m writing on a book about art theory and my personal viewpoint.
I’m assuming it will still need a little bit of time but if you are interested feel free to reach out now 😀
I’m gonna add some selected shorts below!
COMMERCIAL KILLS CULTURE
Imagine an artist who is obsessed by making as much money as possible trying to find forms which are bound by marketing criteria.
Well guess what? This is no boring dystopia but utter reality!
Could you envision why we supported this kind of culture? Is it really what we as a society long for or is there another way?
1. Economic conditions
It doesn’t come as a surprise that artists are moving within economic boundaries provided by society. Income, rent, cost of material and transportation are important factors which limit every artistic practice. Basically the more ressources an artist has the better the foundation to make artworks that have sufficient quality. I think it is obvious that the starving artist is a heroic illusion by an society that tries to cover up their own injustice. Moreover even painting is not possible without colour and canvas.
The recent events of COVID-19 pandemic, the war in ukraine, rising inflation linked with wage stagnation and raging privatisation has put the upcoming artist in a tight spot. As artists and cultural workers being usually paid on a very low level it became more and more difficult to survive as a beginning artist and it seems to me that the cost of living in the cities has become so high it is almost impossible for younger artists to survive within their profession. As in the past it was possible to survive with a two-day-a-week parttime job nowadays it is rather necessary to work fulltime in order to be able to just survive. On top of that art residencies, prices and museum budgets have not increased – most of the time the cultural budget has been dwarfed to zero or is being spent on cheap tourism events like light shows.
So I would say the artist of today is in a bad spot if he/she does not come from a wealthy family.
2. Why is that bad?
The artist that is in a financially bad situation is also a weak and expoitable one. Without adequate funding independency and the strength to resist commercial exploitation goes quite literally to hell. Basically the decision for today’s creators is this: to rebrand their work for commercial use or not be able to create at all due to lack of funding.
That is why we see a lot of art-products which share the same properties: aesthetic perfection, monumentalism, accessible (i.e. dumbed down) content. All this obeys the rules of cheap marketing and unfortunately even political agenda.
This is exceptionally bad for our culture because artworks become design products. And products are created with commercial expectations in mind which means that the formal framework is very limited and based on strict rules. By the way these may also impact our society in a negative way. Basically we can witness the rise of a new mass culture which is enforced by social media and boulevard press methods. Critical or intellectual content is disappearing as it is hindering sales and reception. It is much easier for creators to be successful by stirring up negative emotions or offering simple solutions to complex social problems.
I would say we encounter a form of art which is based on prinicipals of commercial design but at the same time defines itself as art thus deevaluating other approaches. The sophisticated design and marketing approach however missleads the broader audience to believe art should be exclusively about uncritical and pleasurable consumerism and spectacle.
3. The death of cultural development and the rise of manierism
Through the eyes of marketing art and culture need to fulfill the needs of the buyer. This leaves no possibility for new ideas or critical thinking. As we can see most of our popular culture is based upon already successful concepts of the past. We see the follow up of Blade Runner, the sequel of Star Wars, etc. etc. But the repetition and commercial exploitation of already successful concepts does not lead towards a culture which offers new perspectives or a link to contemporary society. On the contrary I believe this only leads to a new popular anachronism. Commercial aspects are being emphasized while everything else is being minimalized. We witness a perfection of aesthetics and the same time the disappearance of new forms and ideas.
This lack of ‘something new’ in our culture is for me a death of cultural development. There is no logical step after commercial refinement of culture other than a call for a new avant-garde. Artists which do not perpetuate the status quo and challenge the conservative view are in my opinion desperately needed. Thinking about Dada and Gutai it is my opinion that we need an antidote to this boring dystopia.
And I hope the medicine may be a radical gesture within the arts.
STARTING A FIRE – CONSUMERISM MADE ME DO IT
This text was written as application text for S A V V Y’s magazine project Burning 2023
The world is burning – quite literally. Climate change, political unrest and economic struggle are few of many crisis that we have to face in today’s world. The problems are known and have regulary plagued our societies but as the threats combine we face a fire which we may not be able to extinguish if we let it grow.
As life in the last decades were full of consumerism and infinite personal chances I would say it was a natural for us to not even think about the possibility of encountering a big crisis. New advancements in everyday technology, global travel and mass consumerism provided us with everything that we needed to fulfill our own needs. Social media and sophisticated manipulation of pictures and information backed the dream of perfection and nothing seemed to be impossible. More often than not our biggest fears were what designer clothes we need to buy and what cheap marketing promise we should trust. However that was what companies offered to us with the intention to boost sales without mentioning the destructive force behind it.
Living in a child-like state naturally we neglected threats we never experienced and which seemed to be so far away. Personally I would argue that the younger generations in Europe did not encounter existential catastrophes at that time and thuss did not have the pressure to become responsible grown adults of society. War seemed to be an invention of Hollywood and Netflix – almost like a relict of the past only told through fiction and so we were falling into the trap that peace would be the natural condition of society.
However war and conflict are never fiction. They just seem to be far away. And we refused to see the signs that told us about it. For me it seems like we were all asleep and unaware. But even though we were in a dream of paradise and peace maybe it was an unjust peace for others. Those that suffered were doing so in silence as we went on with our insatiable hunger for consumerism. At the same time those that benefitted from injustice thrived. Actions were not limited by public morals and we as society did not punish morally bad actions. We looked away as it was the others that fell victim.
Now it seems to be everwhere and at every time: The extraordinary inequality and the exploitation of the weak by the powerful and ignorant. What kind of state is a society in that consists of outragoues inequality? I would say not being equal makes us enemies to each other and most certainly leads towards conflcit. Where we once had trust and support for each other now there is exploitation, despair and rebellion. A state of the art that is not stable in itself.
Now to come to a conclusion it is my honest opinion that it is crucial that we try to extinguish the destructive forces within ourselves and extinguish the fire that is so threatening to us.
THE CYBORG PAINTER
Does it sound like Haraway? It does 😀
The connection to digital realities has externalized parts of ourselves. Everyday life has been invaded by technological advancements like smartphones, virtual communities and worlds. As this became our natural state of being of course the artist has also changed. The context in the past was easier for artists: consider physical reality and transcend it. Especially western style painting has always followed the visual appearance of the world.
But the digitalizisation of our world made the status quo unclear. In what context are we living and how can the artist react to this? All that new virtual experiences seem to be unclassified and still pose a new territory for painting. On the one hand this seems to be a big opportunity as we face a total new world – one could say we discovered a whole new continent recently. However this exploraration and conquest also leaves the artist baffled as how to categorize this newness. And moreover the tradition of western painting seems to be corrupted as the emergence of global internet culture seems to be working against established national traditions.
As a painter myself I say the discovery of virtual worlds is very similar to the exploration of the unconsciousness by the surrealists. The possibility to exploit generated content, group dynamics and technological advancements seem to uncover new wells of inspiration for the modern artist.
In this context the artist becomes also a curator of explored digital content.