Volume 32 no 6 July / August 2018 Editorial
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.
9 thoughts on “Volume 32 no 6 July / August 2018 Editorial”
Thank you Annie Markovich for tearing away the veil. This article rightfully suggests that if it’s 2018 and you’re a recent MFA or PhD graduate, you’re neither artist nor curator but an esoteric priest in an academic cult as far removed from art as homeopathy is from real medicine. Remember that in 2008 bankers crashed the global economy, so an entire generation of academic artists can certainly go off the rails.
Thank you Miklos, I enjoy your fearless writing contributions to the NAE!
I completely agree with what you write Annie. We live in a labyrinth today where we are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages. Most of all we are consumed by our overfull daily lives that don’t leave space for individuality or creativity, but only space for dullness. You write, “Good Art has the power to rattle the mental cages of conformity.” Art can bring very powerful messages, with visual communication being a much stronger form of communication than other forms. It can have a deeper and more permanent impact on our senses. We need to create spaces where artists can emerge and not feel they have to conform to a role of pseudo non-conformity and also encourage young artists to develop and believe in their talent.
“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 parameters of the Academy are overbearing and stagnant. We need to put in a new culture of leadership in key roles, people with ideas, artists and not bureaucrats.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments Tamara, Yes, its hard work to find space to think creatively in the midst of survival pressures.
Artists, but not only artists, need to rattle more “the mental cages of conformity”!! I loved your editorial and look forward to more detail on this.
There are many intelligent human beings out here who are rattling rusty cages of conformity. Its hard to pinpoint the paradigm shift, yet somehow all around the world its visible. Painful no doubt and costly. Why don’t you give us some details? Gratefully, Donatello for example.
Hello Anonymous (rhymes with Hieronymus of Hieronymous Bosch),
It was only when I was able to retire that I could come out of my rusty cage of conformity. Most of us live under the constraints of economic shackles, forcing us to paint or create what sells or what makes ourselves a name in order to survive. Life should be more than mere survival, and when we are young it’s when we have to fight to emerge and in the end sometimes make compromises in order to go forward.
With the demographics of a very high percentage of over 60s living on into their 90s or even over 100, it is the hope that this group of people can stop conforming and become creative once again. It doesn’t take much to come out of this paradigm, just a little courage. And for those people who think they have to have a lot of money in retirement, they are dead wrong. If they start eliminating what’s not essential in their lives, getting rid of excess baggage of all sorts, figurative and literal, and move into smaller living spaces, their cost of living can decrease dramatically – that’s where true freedom begins, by eliminating the superfluous, to start living again.
“Cages, prisons and walls are odd themes for an editorial.” What are normal themes for an editorial in an art magazine, and who defines them? It’s the artists who are trying to break down these walls, some of whom have a vision outside our mental cages or self-enclosed prisons.
Hi Patrick, normal themes for editorial? The readers define them, people like you who respond and have courage of convictions.