MOMA recently hosted an exhibition (November 17 to 30, 2012) by artist Martha Rosler titled “Meta-Monumental Garage Sale” that filled the exhibition space with things made and donated by the artist and employees of the museum. During the exhibition people could buy and haggle prices and if they so chose, could have their picture taken with their purchases.
While this sort of exhibition might make a statement on our consumerist culture, and/or about the “commonplace,”… “that illuminates social life” (site of the artist) what does it say about the current state of the art world? What is end message art is saying about life in our culture?
People, at least at one time, might have looked to artists to gather insight into life and purpose but since the shock-art movement, the conceptual-empty-gallery-room-approach, and the like focus is not on understanding meanings of life or shedding light into this great mystery but on creating an experience in a short-lived moment. This is where we have come in our culture, living in the moment without an awareness, and dare I say, a care about the future and I believe contemporary art manifests this idea.
What this says is that there is little interest in the meaning of life any more, at least by art represented by mainstream art venues of which smaller venues mimic in some degree, and has resulted in advocating complacency. For what is there to make art about unless it is work pushing into the unknown mysteries of life and purpose? This is dire to the community of people not just in our culture and small communities but has the ripple effect of influencing the world at large. I know the American influence on the world is vast and reaches the most remote places on earth. Just recently I returned from a trip to Laos where we went deep into the back country of coffee farms where people don’t have plumbing or electricity, but they do have Angry Birds shirts which is an example of how far-reaching our society reaches.
Not all us artists buy into the idea art has to be representative of mere daily routines, make work that ends at an aesthetic experience, or about nothingness, but can and should be used as a vehicle taking us into the great mysteries of life and purpose. This is not to say work by artists such as Martha Rosler is not good in any way, but that the era of art that does not seek the true understanding of life and truth is coming to a close. While art of this intention is merely a silhouette on the horizon the pendulum is swinging back to art with soul.