Progressive Critique

The following comes from a piece by McKenzie Wark:

“Contemporary art…loves three strategies that portray nothing so much as the forms of accumulation its current or emerging patrons enjoy. Firstly, there is outsourcing, where the art is made by somebody else. Secondly, there in ‘in-sourcing’, where the art is made by its own audience. Here the artwork just furnishes the chatroom and collects the rent. Thirdly, the art disappears entirely into the concept, and the concept disappears entirely into the exchange. The artist is a purveyor of intangible values. Thus the three kinds of art mirror the three kinds of capital: either someone else makes it, we make it for ourselves and still pay for it, or nothing gets made but we pay for it anyway.”

Here a progressive thinker is making a pretty devastating critique of art that usually considers itself progressive. That calls itself progressive. It’s one of the greatest ironies of our time that in the art world painting always takes the blame for collaboration with the 1%. From the same article:

“Contemporary art mimics the form of its key patrons, that fraction of the rentier class that lives off finance capital. Both financial ‘products’ and these contemporary products of the art economy have no purpose in life other than to valorize themselves. They say nothing, do nothing, make nothing of the excess of the world present.”

But saying nothing and doing nothing are not so bad in themselves. The idea is to be something, not say something. If people like Wark got a wider hearing it might remove some of the smugness of the little Buchlovians, but abstraction will still be criticized for not saying anything to disturb or instruct its patrons. It has more important things to do.

Robert Linsley, Untitled watercolour collage 2016

This collage looks back to my earlier remake of Klee’s famous angel.

This entry was posted in Abstraction and Society, Conceptualism and Painting, Ethics of Abstraction and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *