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OUR COLUMNIST MIKE AND AN ADORNO-IAN VIEW OF INSTALLATIONS (WHICH I TOTALLY SUBSCRIBE):

‘A worthwhile discussion. I would agree with Mimi about installation only being one of many possible approaches that an artist may use. Also, as Jordi points out, installation and performance as an visual art form as opposed to exhibition curation and theatre began long ago with specific aims that are situated in the time and place of the artists involved. I feel that what we see today is a demand for the artist to create something new and seemingly meaningful, and installation and performance, unfortunately, are used, in many but not all cases (as Avila’s post in another thread which shows the performance from the 70s shows) to cut corners and produce something that simulates an art like experience. We view disparate arrangements of things, or see artists placed in gallery settings to then explain to viewers/participants what the work means and why it’s art. It appears to offer the artist freedom, but it also offers many art producers the option to sidestep thoughtful work that should communicate on its own primarily, and instead allows the producer to become an art conversation, often with very shallow fleeting results. This is not seen as a problem because you can just keep installing and performing. It comes to the point that poor craft, superficial and overly personal issues (artists talking about themselves as if they were actually interesting subjects), entertainment and shock become the point. As Avila says, the transfer of knowledge is lessened, and I would even say, it is not the point. The point is to draw attention to the artist’s brand.

This said, there are many artists who do work with more serious attention to subject, craft, form, media and material sensitivity, but you don’t hear much of them. Their process is not conducive to Art Market realities, where the more you produce means the more you can sell. Quality or lack thereof is blanketed over with talk, with Artspeak. I believe there is an inverse relationship between the quality of work and the level of Artspeak involved. The more of one means the less of the other.

I think the artist’s best gift to the viewer is to provoke the imagination. This is one of the most powerful elements of being human, being able to imagine. The artist’s work is a culmination of imagination and considered labour, which is then offered to the viewer to spark their imagination. When you need to have something explained (because the work does not clearly show the concept or at least hint at it well enough) it’s not imaginative, it’s discursive. It’s logic dominating instinct, perception and imagination.

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In our world today, we need imagination to try and offer alternatives to the ills of the world. Artists can point out the problems, but they should also try offering the tools to build a better community. This is done by inspiring the imagination of others to assist in this, the most important in my opinion, human endeavour.

As a side note, the issues of categorization are deemed as too important. I personally blame art experts, in which I include many Art Historians (no offence Rodrigo) who need to justify their existence by claiming a knowledge that is fabricated and often so superficially presented as to be near useless. -isms are useful to have a dialog, but it must always be remembered that history is not always neat, nor is it complete. It is as rife with bias, intimidation, and obscuritanism as the art of the Art Market is today.

That last bit was playing the Devil’s Advocate to see it anyone responds to the rattling of cages.

Happy 2014 to all.’