This is the title of a talk at Art-Athina on Sunday, May 18, 2014, from 15:30 to 16:00. The talk is chaired by Artemis Potamianou, Director of Platform Project @ Art-Athina, and will focus on the aesthetic representation of anger as an ‘uncouth,’ disruptive and rebellious act that infringes and impinges upon the codified rules of good behavior and civilized life. The talk will question contemporary aesthetics and art practices and their role in fully engaging with or fully retreating from socio-political issues.
IN YOUR FACE, CRASS AND VULGAR: THE SCREAM OF CONTEMPORARY REBELLIOUS ART
The essay will focus on the aesthetic representation of anger as an ‘uncouth,’ disruptive and rebellious act that infringes and impinges upon the codified rules of good behavior and civilized life.
The rules of aesthetic behavior, outside of the contemporary aesthetic elevation of slavery, do not include ‘the scream,’ unless it is aestheticized, controlled, rendered non-disruptive, neutralized. Basically the scream has to be silent and ‘beautiful’ in order to exist in the official politics of mainstream art or to be christened as high art by curators, academics, critics and collectors.
Nothing can upset ‘the beautiful,’ as defined by Adorno, or it would no longer be beautiful. It is the very concept of beautiful that becomes contentious. It is the moderation and conformity to ‘the beautiful’ that the artist has to exercise in order to exist within pre-approved aesthetic frameworks that make it almost impossible to exhibit discontent, anger, rage, poverty and ugliness. Poverty and tragedy in aesthetic terms cannot stink, be revolting nor be really seen; they can only exist through embellished representations.
The dichotomy between the beautiful life of the few and the ugly society for the rest of us cannot be questioned or disrupted. In this sense the scream is a jarring interruption of the normality of our abnormal lives. It happens in a context that no longer delivers, or perhaps has never delivered, those mythologies of belonging, identity and democratic values that allow the ‘bold and the beautiful’ to exploit and navigate through a sea of desperation and poverty.
Media artists, with their semi-independent platforms, engage the public differently, positioning themselves between social instances and the approved aesthetics of the ‘beautiful life.’ Their work is a scream in itself, a disruption, an antithesis to the seamless structures of a perfect vernissage. The artwork becomes a glitch, a fall, a punch in the eye, a bout of rage, a jarring scream that stops people in their tracks to remind to ‘the beautiful’ that another condition is possible and that rebellion is just one scream away.
Beauty, rebellion, media arts, protest, poverty, liberation