Friday, January 28, 2011

Contemporary Art CANNOT Mean Anything You Want It To.

Admittedly, there is much in mainstream media media regarding the arts that frustrates me, but the notion that Contemporary Art is open to mean anything the viewer wishes simply pisses me off. I read this claim again recently in a story introducing an upcoming collaboration between the Cincinnati Art Museum and the 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville, KY.

Prefacing stories about Contemporary Art with this claim permits reporters with no art knowledge to feel their way into the story, and gives them license to say whatever the hell they want about art. Oftentimes, this means omitting any meaningful or even basic information about Contemporary Art from the story. Deborah Dixon continues her story by singling out "cool" pieces of art in the show without offering a single attribution to an artist. One is a French artist, another is a "young artist who invited black men into his Harlem studio..." And the third? We don't know, but according to Dixon, the work looks like a Rice Krispie treat.

I'm sure the museum provided all of the artists' names to Channel 12, but if Contemporary Art can mean anything, the names of the artists mean nothing to Ms. Dixon.

The truth is, Contemporary Art deals with a number of very important themes and forces us to respond to not always so easy questions. It is becoming more common here in Cincinnati for Contemporary Art to be presented as a mere party favor for the masses.