2003 Abstracts Stage 2

Reconstituted, Vacuum-Packed and Ready for Consumption: The Rise and Rise of the Cultural Supermarket

Elizabeth Singleton, 2003, Stage 2

Abstraction: Imagine a supermarket with aisle upon aisle of purchasable goods appealing to each and every appetite, whim, or fancy. Purchasable for a limited time only, that is, until their ‘sell by date’ runs out, then the shelves are restocked and it is on to the freshest goods and the newest fads. In my project I will investigate whether this is an accurate and justifiable account of contemporary art, and if so, why? Section 1. Modernism, The Search for Ambrosia Enter the intellectual avant-garde, the revolutionaries, pioneers, map readers and guardians of high taste, searching for that which is guaranteed to satisfy. Transgressing old, outdated traditions and paving the way for a new and better future, waiting for the rest of society to follow suit. The Bitter Taste, The Crisis of Modernity: The failure of the artist as the modern hero but his/her brilliant success at becoming an icon. Political incompatibility, the dawning limits of the experimentation and exploration, and the absorption and assimilation of elitist avant-garde artwork by the mindless masses. There were no successful conversions; the artwork was absorbed while the ideologies behind them were not. Section 2. What is a Hot Dog?: Postmodernism, (…is elephant dung the secret ingredient?): Prepare yourself for a scandal. Virtual realities, simulation, canned culture, a schizophrenic way of life abundant in choice. The power in art is no longer found within its creations but the prices they command. Certain lengths are carried out by the artist in order to stand out in this overcrowded artistic stage and thus extend his/her shelf life. No battles, no obligations, no crusade, no spiritual journey, no brotherhood, no notion of linear progression. The task now is keeping fresh and well within your ‘sell by date’. ‘Back of the Net’ Objectives: 1. ‘Subsidence’: The Politics of Post, I shall investigate the ‘gradual shift’ that happened in the attitudes towards art in western civilisation during ‘modernism’ and ‘postmodernism’ in the twentieth century. 2. ‘Mirror Image?’: Reflections of Society, does in any way reflect society and if so, does it follow that because contemporary art is superficial that so too is society? Explore the connotations this might have. 3. GM Free: Commodification Verses Purity, was art always destined to become a commodity? Or was there any real possibility that it could be anything else? 4. When is ‘Shit’ really ‘Shit’?, investigate how defecation has become the marketable medium? The power of shock and the spectacle in a postmodern society. The necessity of extending the artists’ shelf life. Sources: The sources for this project are very extensive and include information obtained from the National Records Office in Kew, newspapers, galleries (specifically, Tate Modern, London, and the Baltic, Gateshead), a numerous amount of books (both from my personal collection and borrowed from libraries) and the World Wide Web. The Philosophical Anchor: In this essay I wish to break through the elusiveness of art and relate it with the human experience. The story of art can go some way in revealing or demonstrating the present human condition. I wish to jump over the partitioning rope, disregard the ‘Do Not Touch’, take the picture from the wall, turn the canvas around and read the ingredients on the back…

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