Sunday, October 30, 2005

"The Kids Aren't All Right"

Snagged from Lenny, but it was too good not to comment on.

Read the article here.

Aaron Rose has come to believe that MFA programs and overeducation are destroying the creativity and individualism of young artists. Rose writes
The primary problem with this kind of education is that by diving deeper and deeper into the theoretical and self-referential, artists lose touch with their public. As a result, the public, particularly the young public, often feels alienated from art. Intentionally or not, people have been made to feel inferior to the art intelligentsia. What inevitably follows is that art becomes simply something to be bought, sold and understood by a very small sector of the population and it loses its urgent role as a means of communication or as a catalyst for social or cultural change.
This echoes Suzi Gablik's writings a bit. Having not attended an MFA program, I can't comment specifically on how graduate education impacts a young artist. I do share Rose's puzzlement when he writes
why, when we live in such a socially and politically volatile time, are these students producing stuff with little or no social relevance when they should be delivering edgy, urgent, thought-provoking work?
Now, I don't do particularly political work myself. And I don't think everyone should. But there is definately a lack of "urgency" in the mainstream gallery work of today.

I think the issue is more complex than Rose makes it, and I don't think it's only the result of MFA programs. Fashion, or zeitgeist, or whatevery you want to call it is part of it - there's very little edgy, thought provoking work being done in any sphere of American culture right now. Why? Maybe the (mainstream) culture-creators and the culture-watchers are too comfortable still, despite the social and political strains. The current lack of edginess could also be reaction to the confrontational, personal and political art of the 1990's, just as Pop art was a sort of reaction to Abstract Expressionism. And I don't think this lack can be pinned solely on young artists. Where are the edgy artists of yesteryear?

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