I have a problem with the word contemporary.
For one it pigeonholes/defines all the art that has come before, as what is most likely known by most, as classical art. Isn’t this classist? So essentially I have a problem with genres. Especially after taking a genre theory course in film. By the end of this course, I came to the conclusion that genres are confusing. There is too much bleed from one category to the other. Meaning they are not isolated, they are in fact predicated upon one another. Art does not happen in a vacuum.
Also doesn’t the word contemporary define time as linear, when it might not be-all and end-all to that topic.
What could possibly be a contemporary standard? The word has too much weight in my opinion, when in reality all art seems to me to be a document. A literal document, of the person who created it, and place (location). Essentially it is an object that generates language around and from it, which is producing a narrative/story.
The statement put out by the school of Contemporary art at NYU, states that
“Contemporary art is…produced by artists who are living in the twenty-first century. Contemporary art provides an opportunity to reflect on contemporary society and the issues relevant to ourselves, and the world around us. Contemporary artists…challenge traditional boundaries and defy easy definition.” 1.
More wholly, contemporary art is a part of a larger cultural conversation. To contextualize this I believe that contemporary is simply art that academics made up to help us understand ourselves better, and to understand the work that is being produced at a rapid pace and by an ever-growing population of people.
What I find interesting are the stories that can emerge from art work(s).“Narrative art is as old as humanity.”2. From finger prints/paint that humanity left behind on cave walls, to pottery, and even in the liminal spaces that performance once inhabited. Narrative art is a better umbrella term to help us understand art work in general, in all its manifestations, without getting into the nuances. There is a commonality between all the work, and that is a means of communication. A means of dialogue between a pair of people, a larger community, or if it is a private conversation we are having with ourselves or with god; “since only until recently art moved out of churches and into museums.” 3. Not only that, but by thinking about art as narrative by-passes misrepresentative connotations that stick to the artists when we deem them as contemporary artists.
Although this may not be technically correct, thinking about it this way, for myself, helps me to make sense of what contemporary art really means in my life and how it functions in the world. “Understanding art is a process, just as creating art is a process.” 2.
2. Don Bacigalupi Founding President, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
3. Alain de Button
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