Maybe it was supposed to be a fake. This whole PR campaign that faked an incident where Banksy transformed the Jesus the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro into Bin Laden was a photo-shop effort. But, though inauthentic and phony, is it still art in a conceptual sense. In fact, Banksy is a reflection of the current state where the market is our only criteria for the evaluation of contemporary art.
The art world, for convenience sake, is much in the vise of the counter cultural idea. Material rewards for running against conformity. It’s an easy image to invoke and has been mined expertly by corporations. Bob Dylan hawking Cadillacs etc. Corporations, the largest art buyers, have embraced the countercultural ideal and its hunger for transgression. Consumerism is no longer about conformity but about difference. The status factor which drives the market wheel is based on difference. When William Burroughs appeared in a Nike ad we can see that nothing threatens the system and even the most marginal elements of society can be exploited such as Ted Williams, the homeless man with the “golden voice” doing Kraft dinner commercials.
Art today is studied as an expression of the system we live in rather than as an end it itself. The idea was anticipated by Marcel Duchamp over sixty years ago when he described the “creative act” as a collaboration between artist and critic in which the position of the audience has as much importance as the the artist. We are really entering the age of participatory culture; as Donald Kuspit stated,”This suggests that there is nothing special or privileged about the artist: he or she is not the “antenna of the [human] race,” as the modernist Ezra Pound thought, but another all too human member of it,…
aaaIn any event, we seem to knee deep in an artistic big muddy; the realization of Guy Debord’s, the French Situationist and his Societe du Spectacle. It took fifty years from Paris May ’68 but the train has entered the station. We live in a conversational society where personality and the cult of celebrity predominates all public expression. Arthur Danto has said, that for a modernist critic, if one does not fall in love with a work of art, it is an inferior work. There is no Spinozian intellectual love. Debord:
The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than “that which appears is good, that which is good appears. The attitude which it demands in principle is passive acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of appearing without reply, by its monopoly of appearance.
The basically tautological character of the spectacle flows from the simple fact that its means are simultaneously its ends. It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory….Read More:http://libcom.org/library/society-of-the-spectacle-debord-one
Arthur Danto:Globalism brings us to the end of art – an idea I first introduced twenty years ago. I have to say that the ground
r claiming that we are in an end-of-art situation have evolved since 1984, but the essential idea was that we have reached the end of a certain narrative that I now realize was a narrative of western art. I think the narrative ends with post-modernism, when anything whatever can be art. Read More:http://annamariaguasch.net/pdf/DANTO_KUSPIT.pdf aa
Guy Debord: The society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist. In the spectacle, which is the image of the ruling economy, the goal is nothing, development everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself.
As the indispensable decoration of the objects produced today, as the general exposé of the rationality of the system, as the advanced economic sector which directly shapes a growing multitude of image-objects, the spectacle is the main production of present-day society….
Donald Kuspit:In modernism, aesthetic and cultural values, and the value of art itself, seemed clear, however debatable. In postmodernism, nothing is clear–everything to do with art is open to interminable discussion. Uncertainty rather than certainty reigns. It is no longer possible to be definitive: to have a decisively closed reading, an absolute idea of value, a linear historical narrative of “advance,” a rigid hierarchical system of significance. In postmodernism the canon has collapsed, and the collapse reverberates back onto modernism: there is no such thing as modernism, but rather a pluralism of modernisms, each with its particular concerns and values, and each addressed to a different audience. Read More:http://annamariaguasch.net/pdf/DANTO_KUSPIT.pdf aaa
Donald Kuspit:But while the possibilities of critical transformation of art have expanded enormously in postmodernism, the imprimatur of the market counts more than any critical interpretation and evaluation. In postmodernism the market has become the major determinant of art’s meaning and value, thus usurping critical consciousness, which is a tragedy for both art and criticism. Both have become peculiarly impotent–encapsulated and neutralized–by the popularity and importance that money confers. Art has entered the capitalist mainstream: more than ever, its exchange value matters more than its use value–its value for consciousness, emotion, subjectivity, and more broadly culture. Decades ago Meyer Schapiro noted that the spiritual and economic value of art tended to be confused. Today the economic value of art confers spiritual value on it, at least for the public at large. Read More:http://annamariaguasch.net/pdf/DANTO_KUSPIT.pdf
Kuspit:Today collectors rather than critics and/or curators are the dominant power in the art culture industry. International biennials, big shows, etc. are forms of cultural tourism, currently the trendiest kind of tourism. One might say that they are art theme parks–just as Auschwitz has been turned into a theme park to draw the tourist euro. Their tragedy is that they don’t create the intimate reflective space necessary to critically view art. Read More:http://annamariaguasch.net/pdf/DANTO_KUSPIT.pdf
Keith Martin-Smith:…And so with this information, we move forward into the next great movement in art, not backwards to Modernism (“subjectivity is absolute”) or backwards further still to realism (“reality is absolute”) but forward, through the truths of postmodernism but away from its self-contradictions. In the place of postmodern flatness is a movement that once again believes art can be grand, inspirational, magnificent, emergent, and capable of speaking to most people, not just the hyper-educated elite. A new movement that believes the artist need not be an angry social outcast or critic or indifferent raconteur, but once again a revolutionary. Warhol, Litchenstein, and Pollock are dead, Serrano’s mediocrity has been exposed in his banal commercial work, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeDillo continue to write for a singular audience who enjoy inside jokes about inside jokes. Let us turn the page, and leave these artists where they belong: in history books. …
…Integral art rejects one of the single most limiting factors of postmodernism — that standards, judgments, and qualitative distinctions are impossible. Integral art does not embrace modernism (which would be moving backwards), and assume a single truth (the artist’s subjectivity), but rather sees a continuum of sliding truths, sliding contexts, sliding meanings. These, though, do not land the artist and the critic and the viewer in aperspectival madness, but rather orient them to an important insight: there is no SINGLE standard for great literature, great art, great music, etc. But there are some standards, and some are better than others even if all of them are relative in their own way… Read More:http://www.integralworld.net/martin-smith2.html