Monday, December 1, 2008

What are the Big Ideas driving the arts these days?

This is part of an article found in the London Sunday Times. For the whole article, click on the link in red.

I think much of contemporary art can be viewed through the lens described below. What do you think? Do Mark Quinn's comments help understand the seemingly directionless art scene today? What makes some art look cutting edge, or at least contemporary, and other work seem as if it was made 100 years ago? Your comments, as always, will be welcome.

From The Sunday Times

 November 30, 2008

What are the big ideas driving the arts these days?
 Sixteen experts identify the key concepts that are redefining the arts. 

"Taking on the big issues: an installation in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall

Interviews by Steve Turner


Marc Quinn, sculptor

One of the essential things of the moment is tackling embodiment in an age of disembodiment. We live in virtual space as much as we do in real space. It’s to do with using the internet, e-mails and all those forms of communication. A lot of my work explores what it means to be a body living in the world. The Kate Moss sculpture is about disembodiment, because it’s a sculpture not of her as a person, but of her image. We measure our lives against disembodied ideals. This is a human trait, but becomes more prominent with new technology.
I’m also interested in how we affect nature. Issues like climate change get refracted through the lens of my flower paintings. The flowers at the florists would never normally grow at the same time and in the same place. Many of them have been flown in. Human desire is shaping nature.
Developments in technology open up new opportunities as long as you can use them expressively. I’ve used DNA and I’ve frozen things. It means you can articulate contemporary concerns using contemporary technology.

Jessica Morgan, curator

In a curatorial sense, I am fascinated that few exhibitions try to take on really big issues. I think there is a certain amount of fear in the idea of taking them on. One result is that people look to the past. There has been a tendency to revert to the early stages of modernism. It was a point of utopian hope, experimentation and bold ideas of political change.
There has also been a type of artwork that allows the audience to create or complete it. I’m thinking of artists such as Carsten Höller, who made the slides at Tate Modern, or Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster [whose current show is in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall]. They take on the role of curator and to some extent allow the curator to be an artist.
The economic shift will affect the art world. One of the things I hope may fall by the wayside is the type of fashionable production created by the market. We’d all be better off without quite so many galleries and useless publications.
Jessica Morgan is a curator at Tate Modern"                          

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