Monday, May 14, 2012

A Study In The Life Of An Artist: Critical Perspectives From Marginalized Voices

There exists almost no distinction between critical postmodern art and the emergence of the neo-proletariat ideals that have begun to (re)populate the world in small measures. Both work on the singular premise of dismantling existing structures of form and power by subtle rearrangements in societal plateaus. For instance, we can observe non-linear ideological shifts in the way the West is engaging itself with the rest of the global community compared to the half a century back when capitalism as a tool of coercion had gained incredible universal momentum. Art and resistance evolve in similar ways, and share a common ground when to comes to (de) idealogizing the present. That is what art truly represents, resistance/persistence, and the Artist becomes the first and final martyr in the entire process. The Artist which indulges in postmodern art also willingly/unwillingly engages with the war of the neo-proletariat. Power is what the Artist despises and what he ironically comes to use when the dismantling of structures begins. Unlike a mythical context of literature or art, the Artist employs present day tools to create an alternate universe of possibilities, which in turn aims to depopulate the present world of stagnant ideas. This circle of reluctant but inevitable martyrdom repeats itself universally in both time and space. What is interesting to note is the demystifying effect of critical postmodern art on present day power mongers. I do not argue about the absolute possibility of artistic utopia but rather the changing nature of the Artist in today's time and age. An artist whose work I'm intimately familiar with argues that it is not possible to reconcile the difference between a falsified grandiose history and present day post critical nuances of art. A painting cannot be traditional when it comes to form and progressive when it comes to the object simultaneously, it must choose either of the two. Cubism and Dadaism were two such defined centers of artistic gravity, both existed only to inspire and recreate the circular representation of artistic utopia. But neither one of them 'began' with such specific goals, like most movements captured in homogenized nomenclature, these two were also results of pedantic and pedagogic classifications.

fig. 1. Roger Brown. Talk Show Addicts, 1993. Etching and aquatint, 22 1/4 x 29 ¾ in.
(Courtesy of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

In the above picture, 'Talk Show Addicts' by Roger Brown, there is a frightening yet prophetic view of urban degeneration via the medium of television. Proximity among neighbors is only possible through a medium controlled by a select few. The dystopia of the Artist is the utopia of the Capitalist. The Artist of today's age has been entrusted with the humongous task of (re) creating 'Art' in a controlled environment of 'mass media', herein lies the ultimate contradiction, for the medium is both the 'enemy' and the 'tool'. This negotiation of being mesmerized and being disillusioned comes at a mental toll for the Artist whose purpose is validated by the very presence of what it seeks to 'destroy'. The products of coercive ideologies such as capitalism are puppets in response to an artistic vision that seeks universal fulfillment. The Marxist philosophy of socialist possibilities is mere lip service to any individual who seeks institutionalized anarchy, another contradiction that the Artist must deal with in order to create parallel self flagellating universes.