The Addendum

A split in the arts

The art world is…

split right down the middle. On the left side is an ascetic world of dour dioramas and evergreen minimalism. It lives in Kunsthalles and white cubes. It is protected from the vagaries of the marketplace by a swaddling blanket of bureaucratic concern and obscurantist prose. It’s a cold place, and it makes demands. Spending too many hours in this art world, submitting oneself to its varieties of deprivation, can make you yearn for the warming embrace of the surrounding culture, guzzling corn syrup and wallowing in amateur porn.

The right side, by contrast, is all money and hype. It’s an adult playground, full of expensive toys, bright colors, and strong sensations. It’s gaudy, excessive, and honestly kind of fun. It lives in art fairs and blockbuster auctions, but also in massive installations, mostly in New York and LA. I’m sure you’ve crossed paths with this art world at some point — whether you were staring at an artificial sunset, caught beneath a giant puppy made out of flowers, kissing under fake rain, or in the audience at one of Marina Abramović’s rolling, hands-on, celebrity zoos. I bet you’ve been to the other one as well; if you haven’t, the moment you walk into an empty room with nothing in it but a broken mirror, a flickering light bulb, and a pillow woven with thread the exact color of the night sky over Berlin, you’ll know you’ve arrived.

Jacob Mikanowski. “On Pirates and Farmers: Sunshine of Absolute Neglect.” LA Review of Books, May 29, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015, from http://lareviewofbooks.org/review/sunshine-of-absolute-neglect/.

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