art 2001/2
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Authentic Creative Work? No Longer in Demand

by Vytautas Rubavičius

In the environment of Lithuanian culture a person, being called an artist, feels somewhat uncomfortable. On the one hand, this word seems to be a normal description of someone doing a certain work and (sometimes) living off it, similar to a banker, doorkeeper etc. At the same time, an artist’s occupation still evokes some kind of mythology that not so long ago used to distinguish an artist among others, and rendered a unique incomparable meaning to art and creative work. The meeting of these semantic layers in the word “artist” makes the person called by this word unconsciously create an ironic distance between himself/herself and an artist’s status.
The rapid changes that took place in art and its reflection can be related with the assimilation of post-modern artistic practices and attitudes while building a new social formation, as the positive values and stereotypes of the market and consumerist ideology were taking root. It is particularly distinct in the field of the so-called visual arts, as these arts are the most liable to be used for the needs of contemporary culture of images and spectacles, let alone the arts that proliferate on the basis of the new communication technologies. The purposefulness of these changes is described by the basic imperative of contemporary Lithuanian culture – “to reach the European or even world market”. An artist can believe in the authenticity of his/her work, but he/she realizes quite well that in the market conditions no “artistic authenticity” can equal, let’s say, the widely advertised artifact of “a maniac’s horrific subconsciousness”. “Authenticity” can be thrown into the market and become in demand only after it has been turned into a certain brand and deprived of all metaphysical associations with ‘being” or “existence”.

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