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Structural utterances: Without and within the context of ‘no context’

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Over the past 40 years a strange and worrying behavioural split has taken place concerning the arts and governing powers. For me The 1975 Trilateral Commission report, The Crisis in Democracy (1975), represents a triggering point when the arts in western society started to become more disengaged, maybe even fearful with presenting an effective, inventive and critical voice on the side of the public in relation to governing forces. An artist’s understanding of an ever expanding picture plane continued and possibly even accelerated well into the twentieth century. By the early 1970s however, time had long caught up with the go-to space for presenting these changes, the gallery context; the location associated with much innovation throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. It is my belief that today the gallery and art institution pulse more with the brotherly echo of the Too-Big-To-Fail-Banks, systemically flawed; underwriting any ideas-with-legs, in order to inevitably to cripple them. This is further complicated by artists not seeing or choosing not to see this; so in the same way that banks and corporations exercise huge power over how society is structured, contemporary galleries and art institutions have unwittingly or not, become the authoritarian interphase or gatekeeper between visual ideas and the public. The curious split however, is in the contrast we see between the arts, increasingly retreating behind a showy but compromised context and how the powers that be (or shouldn’t be) have emerged out of that mid 1970s triggering point. The governing powers appear to have shown themselves to be the true descendent of the spirit of Dada and Duchamp; far more ready to diversify, infiltrate and step out of their comfort zone. Represented through the inventive zeal, excessive chance taking, increased double speak, contradictions, flip flopping, lies, fakery, spying, spinning, torture and complex layering employed in their work. Unlike the pioneering work of the artists mentioned throughout this text, whose central concerns, I would site as, less to do with power and more to encourage the liberation and freedom of their fellow man, this contemporary trickery of governing power is manifest as a brutal form of repressive control. What is more they don’t seek to promote the artistry of their work and although people from all walks of life highly suspect something fishy is going on, the powerful keep the mechanisms of their ever evolving work well hidden and often within plain view. This text is a call to the artist within us all to connect from ground up with the important visual heritage that questions and invents in the service of humanity. To pursue a life where we can act as ourselves in relation to others, not one where every action is taken in fear of how it will be interpreted, praised or condemned by a more powerful party.
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Keywords: Dada; Duchamp; anonymity; art; composition; de-schooling; framing; open access

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Invisible University

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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