If I tell you that art is dead, you’ll tell me “Nothing new”. I know, I know. But I still get excited about it. It makes me sad. Our values are in rapid extinction, right in front of our eyes. Family is dead, altruism is dead, relationships are dead, nature is dead. Art is dead... Last week, I had the honour and the privilege to open my best friend’s exhibition. She’s a painter. A real painter. She paints paintings you can hang on your wall. Beautiful paintings, full of structures, patterns, colours. Paintings that take weeks to make. With her own hands. In my speech, I talked about how our society lost this patience for creating stuff (art and products, even relationships) with our own hands and through this process projecting our energy into them. I compared this to Japanese masters of sword making. They create their swords, Katanas, all by themselves, and they dedicate months to only one sword. As a dancer, it fascinates me that they also use their whole bodies in this process. Made in this way, Katana has thousands of layers, each bursting with its creator’s energy. That is what makes it so unique and powerful. This Zen-like concentrated projection of energy used to be part of our western culture as well. But we’ve lost it. Our lives are virtualised. Our energy wasted. Our jobs are virtual (we don’t produce, we sit in meetings, talk on the phone and write e-mails), our music, films and newspapers are virtual. Our photos are virtual, our memories are virtual, our friendships are virtual. We use products made by someone else, somewhere else. And we don’t care about them. We buy them, use them, throw them away. They are exchangeable. They are not made to last. Just like everything else in our lives.
Same happened to art. Art became trickery, a collection of ideas or constructs created quickly or by someone else. Videos, performances, installations. If they are good, they will tickle our brains for a few seconds. And be forgotten. And if they’re not….. Here the newest example, a huge scandal in Vienna. Swiss artist Christoph Bückel turned the basement of Secession (Vienna’s legendary art space bearing Klimt’s frescos) into a swinger club. That’s Büchel’s art: he already created a sun bed in Kassel and a supermarket and a betting office in Fridericianum. Pardon me! I come from a family of artist and I am really open for everything. But why should re-creating every day spaces somewhere outside of their normal context be called art? It is cheap (actually not, the Secession project costs €90,000), it is not creative, it doesn’t really have a message, doesn’t involve artistry. It is just…an offence. Art is not dead. It is deader than dead.
Maybe the whole project would be a bit less scandalous if it wasn’t really operating as a sex club. Yes, someone got a licence for it. So people can come and look at it as art (why?) during the day and at night they can pay whatever entrance and have promiscuous sex in front of Klimt’s paintings. Art?
After we’ve broke all boundaries and lost all respect and fell on our knees in front of mediocrity and trickery, what will be left of our culture?