Sunday, 30 December 2012

Conventional Thinking

Photo: Art Newspaper
Fred Wilson is a conceptual artist who appeals to me, even as a hardened fogey who hates most contemporary art.  Some of his interventions in museums are quite witty.  I love that he dressed as a guard to give an artist's guided tour, and was of course not recognised by the patrons.  But there are only so many ways to make the point about exclusionary practises in museums; his work is losing its edge and becoming a bit repetitive.  And I'm not sure his criticism has bite any more.  Museums are falling over themselves trying to prove their inclusive credentials and highlight historical sins. 

Fred Wilson's upcoming exhibition in Cleveland "attempts to undermine the discourse-determining status of cultural institutions, almost from the inside out, by employing those institutions' own vocabularies, concepts and methods".  So many redundant words, so little content.  You have to know something of Foucault's concept of 'discourse' for this even to make sense - this guff is so much more exclusive and elitist than the old fashioned stuff that it criticises.  Then that weasel-word 'almost' - why 'almost' from the inside out? 

We're told that he's a political activist infiltrating museums.  His works "speak to the realization that culture is almost never homogeneous".  The terminology is conventional and banal.  Who ever said that culture was homogeneous?  This is the new insider art, and these are the new conventional ideas, dressed up as radical infiltration. 

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