2010: UnEducated Guess

by Stefano Pasquini



I am frightfully eager to know the trend of contemporary art in this new decade. Since the twenties we have witnessed a semi-regular fashion whereby art shifts by decade, and this has been even plainer in the changes between the 80's and the 90's. A hundred years ago (we saw this again at the Venice Biennial) August Rodin was at his highest peak; who's going to overthrow this boring stream of conceptual artists with nothing left to communicate? Or better, what will be the trend that will blow away the pale thought of putting up a group show with thirty-five videos of different artist's daily routine within the same building? I know, there isn't much point in wondering about ten years from now when it's hard to catalogue the present, yet I feel this is the moment where something's got to give in the art scene. So much of what I see seems too constructed, superficial, market based, incongruous, and at



Miho Shimizu






times plainly empty. Yet our art (the work of this time) seems so vital compared to what was in magazines just ten years ago. Luigi Negro helps me with the quest: "Art is simply more and more unlinked from the system, the best things are always the ones outside it by a large margin... open collective projects, or emotional and dramatic actions, LIVE ones..." Yet being out of the system doesn't mean that much nowadays. Maybe New York is different, but in Europe the system has opened up so much to conceptual (unmarketable) art that it becomes hard for the artist to be outside it, regardless of financial gratification or needs. There's a gorgeous little space in Utrecht (Netherlands) called Casco that has recently ceased to have exhibitions in the gallery floor to make room to a larger office. In all effects, the gallery's role is no longer the showing of artwork and all the efforts are now towards the organizing side of art, conferences, dialogue, events. The artist is no longer asked to make objects, and this in time has helped to reopen the communication between contemporary art and the wider public. However, again the artist is holding a double bladed knife, when the demand for objects from the wider public will be stronger and stronger. Duchamp's drawings of the sixties of his 1917 urinal are a clear example of this weird market loop. Let's start with a poem:

Hace treintaiseis a–os mi padre asesin— a golpes los sue–os de mi madre. Desde entonces estè preso cumpliendo cadena perpetua incomutable. Mi abuela no me dej— una mu–eca una joya un te quiero me dej— -en cambio- muchos rencores envueltos en un pa–uelo rojo que dec’a: personal e intransmisible.


Regina Jose' Galindo (born 1974) begins her career as an unknown poet in Guatemala but the drive of her convictions is so strong that her performances made more than one front page, and within three years she's invited to the Venice Biennial. In a performance called "Lo voy a gritar al viento", like a 'postmodern angel' she hung from the arc of the post office building in downtown Guatemala City, reading her poems and throwing the pages to the passerbys underneath. In another performance, "Sobremesa" (Tablecloth) she stuck pages of her diary and hand-written poems on the table of a posh cafe, while lying underneath it in fetal position, this time silent. In "El dolor en un pa–uelo" she was chained to a vertical bed, blindfolded, while on her naked body were projected news about domestic violence and sexual abuse. Often she uses the words of Curzio Malaparte to describe her performances: "our skin is our homeland", and it is through our skin that we experience the outside world, it's our very skin that limits the boundaries of human communication.Annalisa Cattani (born 1968) chose the skin of a weather balloon to express the same physical limit in the performance "Inside". For thirty minutes we witness the artist inside a balloon performing everyday duties: knitting, eating, reading sentences from Platos' Phaedro. In a straightforward way, this Italian artist (who's also a doctor in linguistic studies) shows us the relationship between our body and our needed physical space. "Time devours everything", prints on an ice-cream stick Angela Lorenz quoting Ovid, but strong emotions are hard to forget, and these young artists have understood this. Working in a simple (but not simplistic) honest way, they recount their deepest experiences and unveil the philosophical allusions common to us all. In the video "Novella", Annalisa Cattani moves us to tears in showing us the snapshots of her defunct mother's life. The music of Cat Stevens reminds us of our own mortality, whilst the poetic diary of the mother, recounting the artistic travelling of her daughter, informs us, now and in a hundred years, that it's no longer needed of her to carve marble in order to gain immortality. The sincere, loving words of a mother make this experience eternal like the feelings that created it. So the act of falling becomes the obsession of London based Julie Clark, and the thinking process of Albert Camus becomes a looped video in "Boy meets bush".Miho Shimizu, in her collaboration pieces with Tien Wei Woon, freezes time and the work itself becomes "a kind of record of us at that moment in life." In all honesty, I don't know any more than you do where art is going in this decade. For what I experience from these young innovative artists (who, incidentally, are all women) I think the time has come for honesty. The pompous and market driven trends for slick design and superficiality have to give way to a more down to earth communication, deeper psychology, real experience. The utopian Beuys notion of "art for everyone" is a breath away, only dealing with timeless issues will make it reachable.