The "art world" theorizes like a secret that visitors stumble upon, yet this secret is revealed because it conceals a problematic within the art world: the art definition. Words like "Surrealist can draw romantic flights of the style, "weird" or "avant-garde." Instead of allowing viewers to exhibit the artwork, the curators allowed statements to represent the artwork. As a result, there is a severe disconnect between what you read and what you see. For instance, part of the description for "Michael and Charles," by Lorraine O'Grady, claims that the pairing of the pop singer and poet is "raising issues of class, race and the highly ambivalent nature of beauty that the new abstraction ignores." So Michael is black/Negro/African American, and Charles is French. Am I supposed to validate the ongoing struggle to demote white superiority? Are Jackson's standardized pop songs superior to Baudelaire's poems? Are they compatible? Hindering this line of thought I'm supposed to follow is a white ambulance/hearse in the middle of the room, spewing a female voice. Am I supposed to appreciate the photographs by being distracted? As for the "highly ambivalent nature of beauty," I guess those ads for Gap, Mabelline, and Calvin Klein make ambiguous statements. Why do women wear make-up, and why do men unbutton their buttoned shirts?
The plague of catchwords disseminate the infect visitors with the 'oh" response, so that they can proceed to the next artwork and nod along. Thus, the plaque narrows discourse by imposing an ideological wall, where one the other side "they" know what's going on with art these days.
by Raul Garcia