Administrator’s note: As a new component of Theory Now this semester, each student will post a topic for discussion based on the assigned weekly reading. This week’s post is by Jackie Ionita.
In his essay, “When Form has Become Attitude and Beyond,” Thierry de Duve talks about how the art teachers of our generation have endured the “crisis of invention” and “have never themselves been submitted to the discipline of imitation.” He goes on to say that their teaching results in students who haven’t even had a chance to construct their own ideas of art and of culture and they are already being trained to deconstruct it. Sounds like a case of selling the horse before the cart.
As I look back on my education in art school, I realize that this is in fact true, we deconstruct everything we come across with a cynical “been there, done that” attitude, when in fact we are so young in our art-making that we haven’t been there, and we haven’t done that. Come critique time, we are so quick to decide that our colleagues are trying to pull a fast one on us, but we gotcha, and we’ll tell you what you really mean in your art.
It is a difficult position we are in now: no one wants to strictly discuss art work in a formalist manner because it tends to be boring, especially now that art seems to have to be attached to a grand political message or criticism; and constantly reducing work down to the “real meaning” (which, pompously, we decide is usually nothing) can be tedious. Since institutions and attitudes are constantly evolving, how do we move out of a cynical under-developed attitude about art without leaping to the other end of the spectrum, which completely dismisses content?
Reading for 31 January: Chapter 3: One Place After Another: Notes on Site Specificity by Miwon Kwon.