Da quando l’arte è diventata conservatrice?

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Jerry Saltz su Vulture riflette sulla tendenza che si sta verificando, nel mondo dell’arte, all’auto-censura e al politicamente corretto:

Flexibility is life, but lately I keep thinking that the art world has gotten a lot less flexible, and the freedom that I’ve always thought of as completely foundational — freedom to let our freak flags fly and express ourselves, even bizarrely — has constricted considerably. And it’s happening at such mutated and extreme rates that we must ask if the art world is not now one of the more self-policing areas of contemporary culture. How did we come to live in an insular tribal sphere where unwritten rules and rigid moralities — about whom to like and dislike, what is permissible to say and what must remain unsaid — are strictly enforced via social media and online disapproval, much of it anonymous? When did this band of gypsies and relentless radicals get so conservative?

L’ultima volta che questo accadde, spiega Saltz, fu agli inizi degli anni Novanta del secolo scorso — tanto che ora gli sembra di vivere un déjà vù:

The last time political rules were being enforced in this way was the culture wars of the early 1990s. Language was vigilantly policed; all politics were called into question; art had to be on the right side of the issue. Black artist Betye Saar attacked Kara Walker for her incendiary cutout silhouettes about the antebellum South. Painter John Currin was often excoriated for supposedly being a Republican — never mind that the majority of collectors that make progressive artists rich are said to be wealthy Republicans. (Klaus Biesenbach now regularly escorts Rupert Murdoch’s wife Wendy to art-world affairs, where artists all chat her up.) If you didn’t make overtly political art, you were called frivolous and said “not to care.”

La colpa di questo ritorno alle tendenze culturali e politiche di 25-30 anni fa secondo lui sono da individuare nel fatto che

now everyone has a voice and an opinion about every issue, and that voice, even if it’s alone, can sound loud; perhaps because, with a crisis of authority in media and politics, people are policing themselves and reverting to the last time the rules were known, agreed on, and enforced. This may also explain why so many early-1990s bands and musicians are being revived. For part of the culture, this is a return to their youth in the 1990s; for the other older part, it’s a return to the good, old days, when everyone knew what was right and wrong, what was allowed, and what wasn’t. But to me, this doesn’t look like separating right from wrong. It looks like we are eating our young.

Ma, tuttavia, sembra non voler prescindere da quelli che secondo lui sono i punti di forza dell’arte — di tutta l’arte, non solo di quella contemporanea che più si presta al sensazionalismo e a voler sconvolgere il fruitore:

One of art’s great weapons is its bad taste — how something can seem ugly, wrong, or off but still help extend art. Art is for anyone; it just isn’t for everyone. And we have to stop acting as if it is something to be domesticated, proper, good. Oscar Wilde thought that art is amoral, something first for itself; sometimes, it’s something you cross the street to avoid. Sometimes art is Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” blatantly howling a barbaric yelp. Come what may. Operating within rules isn’t art. It’s about acceptance. Being good. Moreover, if we’re this bunkered in, what are we retreating from? What are we so afraid of? And why?

(immagine via Vulture)