Reflections on the Forum of Contemporary Art
the Loss of Ingenuity in Art
The obvious crisis
of ingenious artistic language seems to be largely driven by the art
market, which is focused on mass culture and seeks to please a snobbish
taste. Yet local conceptual artists are the ones expected to protest
such a presumption particularly, as their art is primarily after shock
Based upon this initial hypothesis, we should assume that contemporary
conceptual art performs a function of social criticism, while an individual
artists are impacted by their analysis of social processes. Yet
the exhibitions of the past years seem to offer very little in the social
theme, leaving the question of contemporary artist s identity
Paradoxically, artistic reflection on social, cultural and other themes
is mostly imported into Lithuania.
Attempts to generate social reflection in art have been made by young
curators, who initiated a new genre of exhibition focusing on a particular
problem. The efforts to create any points of attraction
in contemporary art failed to generate a positive cultural reflection.
The failure was caused largely by the curators who arrogantly took the
brunt of articulating the problem in the focus of a particular exhibition
and leaving the artists in the shadow.
The leveling of artistic sensibility and idiom, as perceived by numerous
art critics, indicates that artists tend to surrender to the conditions
imposed by mass culture. The process of post-Soviet transformation of
artistic culture was conducive for the manifestation of such tendencies.
Yet pursuing goals of popularity, the artists fail to perform social
function of art to reflect on cultural problems of the epoch.
Works exhibited at contemporary art venues seem to manifest a deepening
hole in critical thinking. Neither art strategy builders nor artistic
organizations have so far deemed fixing it important.
Naturally, it is the artists who started the career in the 1990s that
are most active on contemporary art stage. They were most receptive
to novelties in art. However, shortly novelty has became a measure for
value. It has not taken long for the young artists to realize that they
might as well show their sketches, provided they offer a conceptual
foundation for their unarticulated insights. Hand in hand has arrived
also a tendency to ignore the culture of exhibiting.
It seems that the mutinous generation has failed to inherit the best
parts from the stock of their teachers, but did borrow a primitive concept
of social anonymity.
It is doubtful that the most creative section of society has lost its
ability to think creatively. It must be an instance of social anonymity
shared on a wider scale. The common cultural policy vision, which has
stuck forever at the design stage, is another manifestation of the anonymity
Since governmental cultural policy is obviously driven by its representational
needs (illustrated by the vision of rebuilding of the Rulers Palace),
it seems time to start a discussion on establishing in Lithuania a forum
of contemporary art. The strategy of such a center would be defined
through projects, designated the function of modeling the future of
culture. The latter, besides market-oriented trends, should reflect
the results of scientific investigation into culture and arts.
The absence of such a forum presently causes numerous problems, for
one, miscommunication between representatives of different arts. The
on-going discussion on the functions of the future national gallery
of contemporary Lithuanian art focuses on representational function.
It is doubtful whether this institution can be expected to shape the
culture of the 21st century art, instead of becoming just another isolated
How does this relate to the problem of the artistic potential and leveling
of artistic thinking? It is obvious, that no new institution, especially
one of a representational nature, will be able to contribute to the
development of contemporary art. So far not a single solid project (except
ones by the nongovernmental Soros Foundation of Contemporary Art) attempted
a serious reflection on art and artistic culture. Yet, if art has got
any social function, it does include social criticism, even though non-committing
experiments, simulating solving of social problems, might be more welcome
in this pluralistic world.