21 July 2009

Compare and contrast

I thought I'd share a couple of assessment comments from different people for different courses from the end of last semester:

'You are well versed with Picabia et al, but what about more recent conceptual practice?'

'You have an excellent grasp of the historical theoretical underpinnings of "Noise" ... I would recommend investigating some more contemporary thinking around these issues.'

Now, I'll agree that being completely unaware of contemporary practices is a bad idea. And I'd like to think that I'm not completely unaware. However, this seems to be a bit more than that. It seems to be an idea that the contemporary is a good in and of itself, and that history is irrelevant.

The idea behind the intertemporal avant-garde is that structural affinities are more important than relative spacetime co-ordinates. Linear time and historical progress are illusions. It's about grouping things according to what they are rather than when they are.

Hence the term 'intertemporal'. Compare it with the term 'international'. If you are an international whatsit, you have more in common with whatsits in other nations than you do with non-whatsits in your own nation.

In the same way, I see myself having more in common with avant-garde artists in other spacetime zones than I do with non-avant-garde artists in my own spacetime zone.* They are my contemporaries.

Therefore, the way I see it, contemporary practices and thinking are simply not that relevant to my work. And, for fuck's sake, this is meant to be self-directed study, so let me direct it my-fucking-self, thank you. And, for that matter, if every other mug is looking at the same thing, maybe it's a good idea to have a few people looking at other things. Diversity is strength, motherfuckers.

I also don't accept that either the avant-garde or painting is dead. That they are seems to be a truism uncritically accepted. I'd like to set out why I don't accept this in an essay at some stage. Hopefully, I'll be able to tweak the critical studies essay in that direction.

*Please note that this does not imply a value judgement. I'm not saying I'm as good as famous artists of the past. Far from it! I'm quite happy being a minor artist. I have no wish to be a great success. Failure is much more fun – and it sets you free.

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