by Martina Kapopkin
Press Delta Chip to Access 1997.
Just Before the End of Art.
In august 2020 art finally ceased to exist.
Its end was unexpected and for a few years its passing went virtually unnoticed. At that time many historians drew a parallel with the falling of the Berlin Wall thirty years before. The disolution of the soviet block had occured not through violent or active opposition to the state but rather it collapsed in on itself like a derelict building. Similarly,the demise of art occured through a lack of any will to sustain the institutions that supported it , a skepticism about itÍs efficacy and a general feeling of boredom on the part of collectors,curators, practicianers and artscribes.
Prior to its death many thought that it would suffer under the strains of a series of post modernist critiques, or that the critique of the institution would eventually prove its untenability. However when the end came it was largely due to a universal indifference to its concerns and claims; the artists simply dropped their paints, brushes, cam corders and data suites and wandered away. Some, as we know, went on to use their pathological energy for good, and some for bad.
Twenty three years before this event occurred, in the late 90s, the signs of art's ill state of health were already evident, although on the surface the 'scene' looked vital. There was enough of a market to stimulate artists to attempt to succeed, there were enough journals and books published to argue the case for art and there was even a substantial audience, particularly in the younger generation. Few were aware at the time what the full implications of dressing up a hackneyed form of expressionism in the clothes of conceptualism and minimalism would be; that it would leave a vacuum of meaning which would cause the credibility of art to haemorrhage.
Students studying Module Nine, therefore, should remember that this era represented a period of frenetic decline, a moment of hysterical activity just before the boil of art was finally burst.Their activity can be likened to a swarm of dragonflies that settled on a lake, busily moving on its surface but never managing to break the membrane of the deep waters beneat. This was an era characterised by a general fear of looking forward and which sought solace in the reflection found within a mercurial and illusory 'scene' or within the long discredited myth of the Artist.
The writers and artists represented in this module help to bring the above issues into relief. Ian White from the Chamber of Pop Culture voices criticism of a group of artists who are valued for their fame and by the credibility one artist might confer on another . His criticisms here run against the grain which, at the time, was largely uncritical of the phenomena of Cool Britannia.
Sue Webster and Tim Noble on the other hand express an unalloyed desire to be central to that phenomena and shed a frank and revealing light on the aspirations of some of the younger generation of artists.
Paula Smithard's Essay 'Grabbing the Phallus by The Balls' seeks to go beyond the cult of personality generated by that period and asks important questions about how some art by women in the 90s had responded to, and advanced, the feminist debates of the 70s and 80s.
Jan Paul Zaccarini, as Queer TrapezeTerrorist, fulfils a similarly critical role within the gay community where matters of substance had fallen against the pressures of the 'scene'.
The second section of the module concentrates on how artists of that period employed narrative devices in their work. Bob and Roberta Smith created a series of fictitious artists around which the work and the viewer operated, Graham Ramsay brought a 16th century rake into the Glasgow of the 90s. In these,and other cases instanced in the Librery of Babel, we see the formulation of different modes of discourse which exemplify the idea that there are more than a few prescriptive methods in which art can be discussed.
I will end this section with a few notes on Module 10 (good luck with the exams everyone).
We will be discussing the revision of all art history after the reexcivation of Atlantis.
How the reapplication of the Psychic Motor affected vehicular design (Here's a tip- read up on Darien Tavistock's Antigravspinwheel of 2006.)
In Job's term there will be a vidi-com on whether the mass data-suite force feed-back short circuit of 2002 (which killed two thirds of the worlds 'new media' artists) was an accident or whether it occurred for more sinister reasons.
The speakers will be:
John Schmee (Kings College)
Krypton Blim (Virilio College)
Valerie Tidyman (Gatestown)
Until next term
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© Martina Kapopkin 2058