Modern Art: We Have Some Questions

Modern Art

Question Time:

So much of modern art is in this silly imbecilic confused state and sloppy kaleidoscope of nevertheless, similitude, and cleverness for cleverness’ sake to mirror the culture and what it continually seems to ratify: The death of the soul. Don’t you agree?

The truth is an eel, a river otter, a seductive greased tease, a REAL SLIPPERY SUBJECT?

What is the best metaphor for truth? Squeezing a balloon, trying to kill an airborne fruit fly with just your thumb and index finger? (You can use other fingers if you want.)

The aforementioned refers to finding truth not telling it, which you should always do, unless otherwise occupied.

Is piety to worldly gallows wit doomed by its essence, its implications, or equal confirmation lack thereof? Or is it just easier? (The answer to this is probably yes.)

Does a certain language, over and over again, need be repeated, as we bark back the obvious? It certainly would appear so. Or, should I say, “sounds” like it?

If the answer to the first question is yes, how are we certain we haven’t mistaken complacency for the various measures of the depth of potential for understanding, and derided a masterpiece? How: indeed.

Why do arty fellows like to talk about “seeing the teeth in the mirror” in allusions to self-discovery, when actually doing so is so unhelpful, and un-revelatory? Just floss and be done with it.

Why do we listen to arty fellows?

Why do some poets get fed up affecting the demeanor of holding great knowledge, whereas some novelists never seem to tire of the pose?

Why do the idle rich go on vacation? Shouldn’t they go to work, to get away from things?

When is your bedtime and why does it fluctuate?

Do you have any questions?

Do you feel like some artists, writers or filmmakers only “make art” because they need to unburden some malevolence or infect a few psyches with their own warped pathology or worldview?

And how should we define “great art” or value expression? Is it that which provides insight, is useful somehow, positive or path-changing? Or does it count that it’s just real pretty, or makes you feel incredibly awful or sick?

Before you answer, define “good” (or “great”) and ask whether said art require “a story,” at all. I’m not sure I need “a story,” for instance, to accompany my experience of a sculpture or abstract painting, or a piece of music. But it’s not like we have any choice, is it?

Can’t we just look at something for what it is for once, without any guidance, headphones or those little white cards with their tiny writing? I’m sick of those.

Should artists be more like Vikings to jettison the long-held stereotype of being sensitive and thoughtful? Think about it.

Do you think actuaries or traders of longevity bonds are heartless? More importantly, perhaps, do you think they know exactly when they might be, in fact, without a (working) heart?

Do you think actuaries or traders of longevity bonds might actually be secretly more on the pathway of soulfulness and spiritual enlightenment by facing such dire questions every day?

Do you think one of the major flaws of Kafka’s Metamorphosis was the lack of description of sneezing from the family, due to the voluminous amount of dander that would be in the air from living with a giant cockroach?

Do you think Kafka was using symbolism to describe his depression, and the familial shame associated with it, or do you think he just wanted to scare his sister?

Do you sometimes agree there is nothing new under the sun, and does that depress you?

Or, is it liberating? Like, does it make you want to do a collage? Or stand under moonlight?

When did you first realize you were in fact, not special? Did the discovery of this universal banality, or, finding that which concerns and drives most of us and what we desire is essentially the same across great swaths of humanity, draw you closer to people, your fellow men and women, or did you want to be alone and sulk first?

I will tell you that I sulked first. Then shuffled over; but remained unpleased.

If you in fact did regroup with “the group,” how did you find your place in it? Still strange, an odd fit? Was it a new type of strange? Or did you find for the first time in a long time a comfortable spot in which you could stretch out? Did you, in fact, find your place? (Including any references to the “new normal” will see you killed by a Viking artist.)

Should we as humans be healthy balances of thought and action? Or is it condition specific? Wink-wink

If the desire to self-actualize through expression is innately human, is it not the process itself – the expressing – that’s beautiful? Why judge at all the end result, the so-called art?

Does art, if shared only with select few – say, loved ones, close friends or family – share comparable value or worth with that hung in galleries?

Which medium, or level of notoriety, do you consider more meaningful?

Which medium or level of notoriety better conveys the soul?

Which medium or level of notoriety would you consider less tarnished by the marketplace?

Consider first “the marketplace,” and the type of bias it may belie. Proceed from this construct: Both art that’s hung in galleries and art that’s shown to only close friends or family suffers from a particular “love” or “mother” bias, whether from patron or matron. But with which love or “mother” bias can you more easily live, and forgive?

Why is fame used as a measure of artistic success, particularly when the accumulation of more of it – fame – often saps its creator in the exact inverse proportion from being able to make it – the art – “well” or be judged close to objectively on said art’s merits?

Is there anyone who’s utterly, consistently awesome? (Yourself excluded.)

Why do we deride makers of unpublished works as “unknowns?” Have they been disappeared?

Will art funded by hedge funds – the Medicis of our day – be viewed by those centuries in the future as “classically beautiful?”

What are the chances a shark in formaldehyde isn’t just 16th century Florence in microcosm to those walking its streets then? And if so, has money (and art) been following a boomerang?!

Since when are the whims of monied elites what controls the world? (Oh shit… I forgot. Please see preceding line.)

Wouldn’t a more accurate litmus of merit-based artistic success include a measure of the connections of the artist to traditional hoops or grantees willing to transfer his or her pocket money into the artist’s (or gallery owner’s [or friend’s]) pocket?

Do you consider such “pocket willingness” a caveat to merit? Do you deem it merit, prima facie? Call it a bit of both? Do you even, like, care?

Why do undiscovered artists try to showcase their works just like the “big guys,” in unfurnished rooms with over-lit white walls, cement floors and no plumbing? Any space worthy of being endeared with “soul” or simply “functioning” should have potable water. And clutter. Or else be outside. Couldn’t something like a “kitchen salon” bring art back down to earth a bit? Snacks would be closer. And you wouldn’t want to leave a place that’s essentially comfortable. (Any space lacking a sink is to be doubted: ‘cause it’s a desert. Where is the water of life in these places?!)

Challenge: Attending any art “opening” requires BYOB, always, to both thwart boredom and zap the tendency to stroll around squinting and bowing at the works with both hands clasped behind your back, pinched champagne stemware setting off the inevitable “pinky boner.” Try it to find out how impossible it is NOT to be a cliché in these situations: It’s exasperating!

It’s been said that some artists lead very internal lives. That is to say, what they create comes from what they readily garner from their inner thoughts, imagination or dreams, whereas others create more by actually experiencing, living or acting among the outside world, in which art is made by borrowing from what is felt and witnessed while in participation with the experience or actions described:

On which method of creation do you place more value or think ranks higher in terms of merit?

Would you disagree if you were told that the two methods of creating art described above were never mutually exclusive; that art (and life) is always essentially a composite of living and imagining?

You may indeed want to disagree if your answer to the following is, yes: Haven’t you ever totally made something up? (It happens: Think of that cockroach. But don’t linger on the image.)

Atheists would cite God, skeptics would cite aliens, as massive fictions. And believers would generally get really pissed off about that. But who’s really right? We may never know.

Has any of this made you want to commit violence on whoever engaged you on this Socratic-type quest? What if I called it a Derridean aporia?

Do you agree that it is sometimes better to think rather than act?

And, can I assume you think that too is condition-specific?








Shane Kite

This Brooklynite covers music, art, film, finance, technology, politics, small business, economics, clean energy, national security and local and foreign affairs.

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