Earlier this week I waded into a discussion going on at Edward Winkleman's blog (http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com/2006/02/artist-of-week-021306.html) concerning whether a female artist's work was "minimalist" or not. After re-reading Liz Kotz's essay, Video Projection: The Space Between Screens, I was struck by her condemnation of Douglas Gordon's 24-Hour Psycho:
"Gordon's cultish ignorance of the avant-garde precedents that made his work possible furthers their institutional erasure."
which was footnoted nicely with:
"Particularly in the UK, a studied ignorance of the recent past seems to provide endless license to refashion viewer-friendly knockoffs in the present. While a degree of historical amnesia can sometimes free artists from blatant academicism, it also deprives them of the conceptual underpinnings of the strategies they use. . . Embracing ignorance, successful younger artists all too often demonstrate their complicity with these patterns of historical erasure."
This supports my previous post about that "minimalist" artist whose work I critiqued as being not indicative of Minimalism (proper) at all:
". . . those original Minimalists did provide a "conclusive" construct within which their concepts could be continued by others. Isn't this what is supposed to happen in art? Previous art forms and theories that pave exploratory pathways for succeeding generations should and ought to be continued, but with an authenticity to the originary principles, i.e. gestalt theory, phenomenology, even Fried's ironic critique of "theatricality". . . we can currently see a crop of recent art school grads who pillage, borrow and "recast" the earlier art concepts, yet don't add anything to the discourse or carry the original concepts forward. This is exactly why today's artists that are enamored of earlier styles like Minimalism or conceptual art must immerse themselves in the relevant art theories so that they can understand the ideas more fully, to make these earlier, historical art forms "live and breathe" again, rather than creating superficial "citations," or "style without substance."
My concern is that there seems to be also a "studied ignorance" afoot within art world discourse itself, with various art blogs, writers, critics, commentators offering up "judgments of taste" without stating clear positions on art issues at stake. If we can hope to open up an alternative "venue" for new art and artists like the Internet, then shouldn't we be prepared to establish it as a viable, valid and intellectually sound space for both aesthetics and theory?