“Real” and Profane

Neo Rauch Hüter der Nacht 2014

“…the avant-garde never fully succeeded in its quest for the real because the reality of art—its material side, which the avant-garde tried to thematize—was permanently re-aestheticized; these thematizations were subjected to the standard conditions of art representation. The same can be said for institutional critique, which also tried to thematize the profane, factual side of art institutions. Like the avant-garde, institutional critique remained inside art institutions. However, this situation has changed in recent years—due to the internet, which has replaced traditional art institutions as the main platform for the production and distribution of art. Now the profane, factual, “real” dimension of art is thematized by the internet. Indeed, contemporary artists usually work using the internet—and also put their works on the internet. Artworks by a particular artist can be found on the internet in the context of other information about the artist one finds there: their biography, other works, political activities, critical reviews, personal details, etc. Artists use the internet not only to produce art—but also to buy tickets, make restaurant reservations, conduct business, etc. All these activities take place in the same integrated space of the internet—and all of them are potentially accessible to other internet users. Here the artwork becomes “real” and profane because it is integrated with information about its author as a real, profane person. Art is presented on the internet as a specific kind of practical activity: as documentation of a real working process taking place in the real, offline world. Indeed, on the internet art operates in the same space as military planning, tourist business capital flows, etc. Google shows, among other things, that there are no walls in internet space.” [Boris Groys on the New Realism]

Lisa Yuskavage Mardi Gras Honeymoon 2015

“… Sarrasine sketched his mistress in every pose: he drew her unveiled, seated, standing, lying down, chaste or amorous, embodying through the delirium of his pencil every capricious notion that can enter our heads when we think intently about a mistress… Replication of bodies: drawing…: hallucinated. The model is subjected “freely” (that is, in conformity with a code: hallucination) to the manipulations of desire (“every capricious notion,” “in every pose”). In fact, the preceding drawings are already hallucinatory: to copy a pose of Raphael’s, to imagine an unusual gesture, is to indulge in controlled doodling, to manipulate the desired body according to “fantasy” (hallucination). Following the realist notion of art, all painting can be defined as an enormous gallery of hallucinatory manipulation – wherein one does with bodies what one wants, so that gradually they fill every compartment of desire (which is what happens bluntly, that is, exemplarily, in Sade’s tableaux vivant.). ** REF. Code of Passion. *** SYM. Undressing (La Zambinella is imagined unveiled).
…the Subject Sarrasine, through repeated snares, proceeds ineluctably toward the real condition of the castrato, the void which is his center. This dual movement is that of the realist ambiguity….the artist tries to undress appearance, tries always to get beyond, behind, according to the idealistic principle which identifies secrecy with truth: one must thus go into the model, beneath the statue, behind the canvas….” [Roland Barthes S/Z]

Martin Kippenberger Untitled 1988

“… the return of realism is the return of the psychological—and the return of a discontent with reality experienced as an oppressive force. Let me make one last remark here. Realism is often misinterpreted as an art form that depicts the realities that lie beyond the art system—“simple people,” or the “working class.” However, the art system, as previously noted, is already part of reality. Realism is needed not for its description of the outside of the art system, but for the revelation of the latter’s hidden inside—of the discontent with the realities of the art system that its protagonists experience. Only when writers and artists begin to feel like failures in their conflict with reality will they ask themselves what it means to conform to reality, to live a simple life like everybody else allegedly does. An inner, psychological problem is projected towards the outside.” [Boris Groys on the New Realism]

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