Annie Markovich, Assistant Publisher
Cages, prisons and walls are odd themes for an editorial.
Each possesses subtle differences in meaning and while many innocent people are behind bars, there are many more in the wide world who have made their own “big houses.” The “big house” is hood (ghetto) slang for prison.
In the visual arts conformity and exclusion play important roles within academia as adjuncts who must have at least an MFA to teach part-time. Lucky grads who get the temp positions juggle travel from one part of the country to another to work for a year or more without possibility of tenure. Tuition has skyrocketed since the 80’s, leaving students tied to government loans, a ludicrous source of income for the federal government and a huge weight to carry for students. Where does all the money go? Art Academia once a bastion of authority where Art was judged and produced in relative comfort, where theories and fashionable modes of criticism captivate students ready to believe. Self-made cages or ones imposed by society often are unconsciously absorbed by citizens; they bind human thinking processes to thoughts that constrict creativity. Our society gives us culture miasma, an oppressive atmosphere to pursue transactional rather than relational exchange between each other.
A recent exhibition at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel Switzerland highlighting the work of Giacometti and Bacon, who led the modernist tradition, delivers unsettling, deeply emotional questions about relationship in modernity. Both artists face what happens or doesn’t in relationship. Here is a look at figural painting and sculpture within a chained and automatic existence. In several of Bacon’s paintings a metal bar encircles the dais where sexual performance as violence consumes. What looks like a metal cage surrounds the stage. Inside these bars is a circus of darkness. Bacon had no reservations about revealing his sexual struggle between walls for connection in human relationship.
Giacometti’s sculpture walks uncaged and imprisoned within. The existential variety of experience leaves a residue of doubt about modernity as gouges, cuts and cages surround figures who move as automatons in opposition to the silent screams of Bacon’s faceless nightmares in the bed. Conformity is the cage for Giacometti, shaped in bronze as a walking man; a robot in action, For Bacon prison is a tortured mental addiction.
Good Art has the power to rattle the mental cages of conformity.
Art must grow beyond parameters of the Academy, outside museum norms and auction house shams to include voices of dissent, healthy dialogue and examination of culture.
The New Art Examiner will keep faith as a publication of language and imagination, carefully eyeing the crevasse of cultural decline, give readers the challenge of doubt and persist in developing ideas about what makes good Art. Writers work through this and are courageous to put themselves on the line about what they think and feel. I believe in the power of our sensibilities to drive culture forward in the labyrinth we live today.