For one human being to love another:
that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks;
the ultimate, the last test and proof,
the work for which all other work is but preparation.
Rainer Maria Rilke
I continue to struggle with the idea of production as an artist. My gut reaction to art these days is ‘get rid of it’, meaning get rid of all the art objects – paintings, posters, sculpture, art objects, etc. It seems to have all come crashing down to the almost quintessential example of consumerism for its own sake. All objects exist now as art, from shoes and sunglasses to gargantuan site works and gardens. It’s not that the appreciation factor has increased. Actually, it’s because it all becomes sellable. The more things can be qualified as artistic, the more they get a price tag unrelated to their import.
The term that comes to mind for me is ‘museumification’. The entire museumification of the object extends from posters and ‘antiques’ to home interiors, where every item is treated as special. It’s as if the act of ‘living’ in a space and using the things in that space somehow spoils them. Look at all the home shows and magazines and what you see are people being shown how to make everything into an exhibition of object-ness, appearance being raised to new heights while substance is continually dissipated.
I guess that’s what finally wears me down, the complete lack of any sense of discernment. This has been coming for a long time and its prediction was writ large in articles and books by many a comprehender. Nonetheless, it is so difficult to take in point of practice. The Buddhist in me says ‘it’s all about attachment and not worthy of the attention’. But the artist in me, the one who grew up both loving great talent and at the same time despising the affectation and snobbery around high-art and connoisseurship, wants to see it all piled onto a pyre. I can only assume that this is the price of a consumer culture gone wild – all things must sell and any vehicle is saleable if the customer is gullible. I see a new object in the works – the non-object, non-idea art piece.
I hearby declare the greatest art for art’s sake of the 21st century is air – pure, simple, preferably unpolluted air. It is the ultimate art experience in its simplicity, more minimal than an early work by Brice Marden, more complex than the most detailed Close, more environmental than the Spiral Jetty, more common than the Thomas Kinkade’s in the malls. It is the source of all things visual for it influences every object we give importance to and yet it, too, can be noxious and fetid and makes us hate that we have to breathe it.
The emperor’s new clothes, seen in the museumification of everything, have been seen for what they are and they are but another manifestation of the greatest art event – air.