Dirk Skreber’s “Untitled (Crash 1)”, 2009 Red Mitsubishi Eclipse Spider 2001
Year’s ago, the totality of my response to viscerally oriented art was a purely dismissive one. The disorientation it produced simply disinterested me. Due to its contrived quality, I never saw sufficient reason to investigate it more thoroughly. It was also antithetical to my own artistic aspirations, and devoid of the aesthetic import, that I sensed intensely in art.
The force behind much of this art tends to be visceral, effecting the senses. Its intensity of affect is comparable to lighting birthday candles with a blowtorch. The shock serves as a powerful distraction which allows the meaning of the work to enter the viewer in a deeper fashion, and with less resistance. Through involuntarily enlisting the subconscious process of the mind, this mechanism is reminiscent of trauma based systems.
This mechanism should be clearly differentiated from classical objective art appreciation as one of aesthetic judgment. It should give pause, and raise serious questions with regard to what hidden, incomplete, occult potentialities may be present in such art or art experiences. The affect that ensues, becomes one of psychic mental disturbance, presented through forms of shock, moral perversion, and physical disgust. The mechanism for judgement amidst such work could be compared to rating accidents during a day at the races, as best illustrated by Dirk Skreber’s “Crash”.
Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary”, 96″x72″,1996
Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” represents another form of gratuity where the shock, or offense is considerably subdued. A highly stylized black female figure on a radiant background encrusted with glitter and elephant dung, while miniature angelic forms constructed from pornographic magazines dance in the space around her. Although the widely publicized controversy, that took place amidst the Brooklyn Museum Show, centered upon Ofili’s piece, it was no where to be seen within the media frenzy. Apparently, the idea of combining the Virgin Mary, pornography, and dung could only be lessened through viewing the insipid aesthetic and attractiveness of the actual piece. Serrano’s “Piss Christ”, being a photograph, presented a lesser, but similar impediment, leaving its description, rather than its form, the primary vehicle for outrage. These type works offer themselves willing sacrifices to media dialectics that serve established collectivist agendas. The artists themselves may, or may not be fully aware of such potentialities.
Andreas Serrano “Piss Christ”, photograph, 1987
Nowadays, the average person pays little, if any, attention to contemporary art, and displays no real curiosity, or reliance upon the fine arts. Art has indeed become more elitist while, at the same time, becoming less artistic. Popular culture offers increasing artistic experiences through passive forms of movies, television, and gaming that speak directly to the subconscious.
Marcel Duchamp “Why not Sneeze, Rrose Selavy”, 152 marble cubes, thermometer, and cuttlebone in rectangular birdcage 11.4 x 22 x 16 cm
The only high art the general population is likely to become aware of is the controversial art depicted here. The non-hierarchical aesthetic paradigm promoted over many decades has destroyed the ability of the general public to develop taste, narrowed their vision, earned their ignorance, and increased their cynicism. Resultantly, the only art people can collectively discuss anymore is art that embodies disgust or some other controversy.
Marcel Duchamp “Fountain”, 1917
Eighties pluralism had no time or need to develop true connoisseurship. Postmodern doctrine provided justification for any oversights of value and taste. Galleries would then offer artworks as the church did indulgences. The traditional connoisseur’s acquired sensibilities attracted to greatness, were co-opted by new money without value, to purchase objects as void of transcendence, as the money traded for them. The market drove the movement like never before, creating ready-made art stars, as quickly as Duchamp’s ready-made sculptures. As Darby Bannard, Professor of Art, at The University of Miami has remarked, with an estimated one-hundred thousand artists working in New York City alone, making just ten pictures a year, the resulting one million works of art present more of a disposal problem than anything else.
Marcel Duchamp “Bicycle” 1917