The Fog of Art

I like a recent article by Hito Steyerl, especially this line: “Art is encryption as such, regardless of the existence of a message with a multitude of conflicting and often useless keys.” This is a little dose of aesthetics; abstraction at least offers no intelligibility, and why should it? An overrated feature of any art. Later on she gets very funny:

“Yay for expensive craft and anything vacuous that works in a chain-hotel lobby. Plastiglomerate marble, welded by corporate characters banging on about natural selection. Kits for biological “self-improvement.” Crapstraction, algostraction, personalized installations incorporating Krav Maga lessons. Religious nailpaint will slay in all seasons, especially with a Louis Vuitton logo. Hedge-fund mandalas. Modest fashion. Immodest fashion. Nativist mumbo jumbo. Genetically engineered caviar in well-behaved ethnic pottery. Conceptual plastic surgery. Racial plastic surgery. Bespoke ivory gun handles. Murals on border walls. Good luck with this. You will be my mortal enemy.”

It’s the last sentence, in which she claims her position on the side of the good, that probably explains her popularity today. That’s the last minute redemptive turn that all art makes, although it makes it in many different ways, according to the kind of art that it is. Readers of this blog will know that I have a high tolerance for charlatanism and bad faith. They’re just part of the general chaos, and I don’t care if things turn out all right in the end. They won’t anyway—how could they? There will be no end. There will certainly be an end to localized bullshit, and to temporary socio-economic systems—as human creations they are all temporary anyway—but I can’t see an actual end in sight. Even the end of human beings is too remote for one evanescent pair of eyes to make out, although in geological time it’s likely immanent.

The last part of her article is unreadable, being an attempt to lay out remedies. Who is foolish enough to demand a positive alternative? Probably the e-flux crowd. Thoroughgoing negativity doesn’t sell, that’s why Harold Rosenberg is unread today. As an artist I think that truth telling combined with wit and humour is enough; today it won’t go over. The audience demands an answer! A solution. Some hope. Even if it makes no sense. Maybe vague projections are another kind of abstract art.


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2 Responses to The Fog of Art

  1. Triff says:

    that hito paragraph is simply delicious!

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