At this moment, art being made by Artists living and working in New York City, has a strong yet subtle sense of accessibility as central theme. Through material, practice and space, artists are having a conversation about democratic art. Art’s history is characteristically undemocratic. What is valued by institutional ideology as “Art” consists of cultivated understandings and tastes that are best reared by expensive experience and privileged access. It is exciting, though at time even baffling, to see art that directly and indirectly engages art praxis in a democratic context. This is a snapshot of three distinct practices fluctuating and evolving in the hands of Artists now.
Visiting a NYC gallery or perhaps hopping open studios, one will surly be faced with Post Internet Art. Post Internet Art emerges from the visual lexicon and concepts informed by access to technology to a generation of Artists whom have been on line since the cradle. The new possibilities of generating imagery that personal computers and the internet granted, gave way for a detached dialog about the zeitgeist. Some of the most important themes explored in Post Internet Art is that of multiplicity and the availability of pre-designed graphics or desk top art. Artist Nari Kim creates “democratic objects” as she describes them, which she aims to take out of a hierarchical context. Kim uses a form of digital clip art, accessible to anyone with a pc to create an image that she then uses to create multiple dimensions of. She prints this image on wall paper, on which she hangs a frame wrapped in the same image. The frame then holds a print of the same original image, creating a conversation about manipulated space and accessibility to art production on a scalable manner. The work results in a clear and slightly aloof statement of conceptual dexterity.
Another modality of art making that has informed a steady amount of art being made in NYC that dethrones notions of Artists as master craftsman, is that of Zombie Formalism. The term was coined by art critic Walter Robinson, refers to art which is mostly interested in process and lacks a sense of commentary. Sometimes described as a “rich kids making art” trend, because of its lack of sense of mass consumable appeal, zombie formalism is made by Artists interested in speaking in a visual language strictly understood by other Artists. While the work tends to be an acute reflection of apathy in contemporary art, its appeal lies in its subversive nature to explore materials like saturated colored paint without mixing or rendering imagery, instead prominently using primal geometric shapes and mark making to at time create rudimentary figurative references. The freedom of theory and emphasis on process and material as statement, becomes an inclusive and open invitation to explore art making without restrain or inhibition.
Across the country as in Bushwick in NYC or Wynwood in Miami, there has been an explosion of color and pop in neighborhoods not unfamiliar to graffiti. Driven by the need to appeal to a higher yielding real-estate market, a renaissance of murals has created a bridge between graffiti and art. Murals have a long history as an art form that promoted social ideas and encouraged pride by reflecting cultural victories. In the pre-internet seventies, murals were an important source to propagate ideas of resistance and introduce omitted histories to the marginalized in ghettos across major cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. This resurgence of murals, though sometimes strictly aesthetic, have the power to activate neighborhoods with a light heartedness unimaginable in drab and uninspired walls. In Bushwick, New York, the “Bushwick Collective” lead by a long time resident, has created corridors of murals in a once infamously dangerous neighborhood. Though at time criticized for their roaster of Artists that only consists of a handful of local or native Artists, the collective’s efforts have drawn visitors from around the world, infusing local businesses like cafes and restaurants with eager patrons.
This moment in art from the internet, to the studio, to the walls of up and coming neighborhoods, is filled with the palpable power of art to connect. Unlike any other time in history art is being used as a tool available to anyone willing to pick up the dialog. While NYC leads the way in artistic practices and trends this practice are occurring simultaneously in parallel practice nation wide. Ultimately it is the Artists, regardless of geography, to implement intention and perspective to create a genuine statement. This snapshot will not represent the art in NYC or anywhere else in the near future, one or more will diffuse and shape shift or drift of into oblivion as a fad. You are invited and highly encouraged to jump into them and try them on for size.