Authentic Contemporary Art is a satirical installation and performance piece that is intended to cause reflection upon how contemporary art is marketed, reported, and discussed. The project is a response to art critics Sarah Thornton and Dave Hickey announcing that they weren’t going to write about the art world any more. In October 2012, a number of high profile art writers, among them Sarah Thornton and Dave Hickey, declared they weren’t going to write about the art world any more. Hickey called contemporary art “nasty” and “stupid”. Hickey said, “Thirty years in the art world and hundreds of biennials had not prepared me for… the conferences, committees, agendas, proposals, symposia, position papers, tourist boards, prize adjudications, directorial appointments and preening philanthropists.” Thornton complained that reporting on the art market, which she had made a name for herself doing, “implies money is the most important thing about art.” (I go into more detail in the article, “What Is Contemporary Art & How Does It Matter“.)
Authentic Contemporary Art generates a claustrophobic amount of visual clutter using a number of parts:
Authentic Contemporary Art Flags
variable size, paper and string, 2013
The flags are strung around the space in a manner similar to a used car lot.
each 3.5” tall x 2.5” diameter
11.7oz , edition of 50, signed & numbered, 2013
Branded cans are stacked and displayed throughout the space like beans in a grocery store.
set of 6 cans, each 43” tall x 23” diameter; 17 lbs
fiber, metal, paper
The viewer encounters over-sized/ life-sized cans. They may be stacked in a tower 11-feet tall or piled and leaned against one another depending on space. Each can is titled a different color.
12”x18” printed posters on paper
On the walls of the gallery are advertisements for Authentic Contemporary Art and posters contain quotes about contemporary art, art and money, as well as those from Sarah Thornton and Dave Hickey.
The Gallery Regrets…
framed, 8”x10” photograph
The photograph is of a post-it note that reads, “The gallery regrets to inform you the contemporary art has been sold.”
Eventually, the viewer is led to a “gift shop” where they can purchase mementos of their visit: Authentic Contemporary Art propaganda (buttons, stickers, cards), the zine Authentic Contemporary Art, and cans of Authentic Contemporary Art.
TALK: Why People Hate Art
Art is a magical piece of technology that liberates us, humanizes our neighbors, builds bonds with strangers, envisions solutions to our problems. Art is a tool that can connect our communities, ease our pain, expand our thinking, and love each other better. Too many people are afraid of, unfamiliar with, or dismissive of art. I want art to matter on a personal, social, and political level.
“Why People Hate Art” is a forty-five minute slide-show and talk about the frustrations many people have with contemporary art and the history of how we got to the current moment. The talk focuses on the manner with which Modernism was introduced in America, art’s role in the Cold War, and the division between an elite, international art scene and the art being made in communities where most Americans live. The talk ends with strategies for repairing the damage of history and unleashing the power of art, to make that magic available to everyone.