Jerry’s latest finally acknowledges what we’ve been getting at all along. POMO is the academy.
Much of this work takes visual cues from the photographs that appeared in art magazines of the sixties and seventies, translating that smudgy halftone quality to three dimensions. These artists seem to want to crawl into the skins of Gordon Matta-Clark and Robert Smithson, whose work did intrusive things to the large and familiar, and a preapproved roster from the so-called “greatest generation.” It’s a cool school based on an older cool school, and it gains attention the way a child of a celebrity does. Many artists of this stripe went to art school and have apparently internalized the beliefs of their teachers, using strategies common when those instructors were young. They’re making art in ways that their teachers thought art should be made. This is an Oedipal-aesthetic feedback loop, a death wish.
It isn’t enough to talk of Mannerism any longer in connection with Postmodern art. Art has become far too academic, at best thrice removed from originality and innovation. It is an art developed, manufactured and processed for the entrenched collector classes. Artists are educated by their institutions to satisfy their tastes. This kind of art is not made to challenge art, but to challenge saleability. We are in an age of a new Rococo.
My appreciation of the power residing in systems started with an awareness of how institutions create mechanisms that translate ideology – say, the causes of evil – into operating procedures, such as the Inquisition’s witch hunts. In other word, my focus has widened considerably through a fuller appreciation of the ways in which situational conditions are created and shaped by higher-order factors – systems of power. Systems, not just dispositions and situations, must be taken into account in order to understand complex behavior patterns. The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo
Rococo is a fawning type of mannered art developed for a monied aesthetic – a refinement of the kitchen sink aesthetic of the Baroque. It is familiar academic work ramped up by superficiality, theatricality, decoration and stylization – a “top down” form of art making. Today our Rococo moment developed from mannered Postmodernism first seen in the 1960s, later whipped up to a fine frothy sludge in the 1980s. Of course in our world we do it with different materials in a different time, but it’s the same mechanics. It’s all about one-upmanship. Bigger, uglier, dumber, faster – we just keep upping the ante on the same deal of cards. This type of art is about maintaining and filibustering. Baudrillard defined this as hyperreality – where consciousness can no longer distinguish the difference between the real and the fantastic. And further that the fantastic world defines reality. Sooner or later the wrench gets thrown into the engine – for the Rococo it was a revolution and the enlightenment. For us, well, it may be an economic meltdown and a rediscovery of vision. But it has to be artists driving that change, and those of us who find the current “practices” of art distasteful must be clever enough to find that new vision.
I hope to post part six of our series on abstract figuration shortly. Stay tuned!