Wednesday, January 28, 2009
"Terrorism in art is called the avant-garde," quipped Alberto Moravia in his essay "The Aesthetics of Terrorism." If this was once the case, it is no longer. Most avant-garde art is viewed and created today as simply an enfolding reaction to its own history. This disingenuous game-playing guarantees that the avant-garde can no longer stimulate or even provoke. Dada and Futurist actions, which attempted to lead art out of the classroom and museum and into the streets, are simply appropriated by postmodernist facsimiles which capture the letter but little of the original essence. It hardly matters anyway. Avant-garde art has evolved into nothing more than a cultural benchwarmer, corporate tax write-off and public relations smokescreen. Art which openly espouses anti-corporate ideology is embraced as long as it hews to arbitrary standards invented by those taste-making and fortune-telling hirelings, the art critics. What could be wrong, after all, with a business world that allows people to say what they want (because it doesn't matter)?