mat (coagula) wrote,

The Art World Versus Middle Class Values

Almost all art world doctrine boils down to rejecting the values of the middle class. When you hear the term "BOURGEOISE" it basically means the middle class. The people who have to get up and go to work so they can support a family that can thrive without ever really getting to the point where they can break that cycle and avoid getting up and going to work in the morning.

The doctrine is not some screed nailed to the wall. It oozes out of everything and everyone. It changes over time as the middle class expands, contracts, wisens up, lets its guard down, et cetera over the years. All those macho Ferrus Gallery sausages were striving every day to be anathema to a middle class that aspired to own a color television set and take their three kids to church on Sunday. And thus the doctrine was born.

Art schools themselves are devoted, almost exclusively, to rationalizing a rejection of middle class existence - and yet they do so wholly without dwelling on this source point of contempt.

The art produced in the academies totally rejects anything and everything associated with being middle class.
LABOR - The past twenty years has seen the emphasis to "deskilling". Working at anything is way too middle class.
KITSCH - Everything embodied in middle class sentimentality is fair game as subject matter as long as the artist goes about it in a mean, superior/digusted manner.
CRAFT - Since it takes time (thus labor) and might appeal to people from rdinary backgrounds based on its uniqueness, anything well-crafted is ostracized fromt he contemporary art dialogue.
NARRATIVE - Artists are free to have a personla language of symbols that seem nonsensical, but a narrative that includes the viewer and rewards anyone with the curiosity to explore is pretty much outlawed in the art world today.
PRIDE - Taking pride in a job well done is disallowed - in the academies not overtly through policy but through
the socialization of the student body and through the critique process by the steady stream of academics, themselves self-proclaimed escapes from the middle class and yet, as conservative and vacuous as their parents and neighbors back in the burbs. Pride in getting away with something, though, is the bread and butter of the art academy, and the art world.

Rejecting all that the middle class stands for is, simply, a desperate gesture to avoid self-loathing on the part of the entire art world - from the students to the teachers to the commercial gallerists to the institution's many castes to many of the collectors. The occasional overprivileged art school student will inadvertently bring in taboo (middle class) tropes and be applauded for sneering at all that is terrible. The occasional underprivileged (working class) student will earnestly deliver some of these same taboo approaches to visual composition and both the tropes AND the earnestness (the ultimate manifestation of aggrandizing middle class values) will be harshly critiqued, unless the working class student throws in anti-bourgeoise political stances to steer the academic community away from seeing the work as truly threatening.

There is the irony, radical leftism is perfectly acceptable because it carries no threat to the academy, aimed as it is toward all that the middle class stands for. And what floats in the academy pretty much floats in every sector of the art world outside of an increasingly invisible, marginalized bohemian sector.
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