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▼ Report: Difficulty and Our Dystopia


I have been thinking about the idea of difficulty in art: ‘difficulty’ as an approach to a viewer or as the result of a seriousness towards experimentation, not difficulty of craft. The idea of difficulty in art is tied to the loss of difficulty. The loss of difficulty is one thing a cultural sphere mourns when it is altered by an overly commercialized context.

Thinking off and on all day about movements and theories from the past – from art and literature – it became clearer what has been lost during the recent growth in art’s economic clout and what is maintained at the risk of obscurity in a market that speaks ten times louder than any alternative to the production of the desires of the collecting class. These devotions are lost: devotion to pushing fixed concepts, devotion to the value of difficulty, devotion to something that is the opposite of entertainment. ‘Difficulty’ is the accurate intent for artists. Wrestling with, undermining, questioning, pushing the limits of form, viewers, authors and medium is the only blood. ‘Difficulty also, of course, has political purpose. It confronts the wishes of a corporate ethos. It confronts one way communication.

Easily transmitted cultural objects have a terrain homogenized for their acceptance. One way communication is unblinking. ‘Difficulty’ is removed from the demographic, prepped by public relations, receiving the transmission. Easily transmitted cultural objects also must maintain a strict control of their language so value is explained without question. ‘Difficulty’ is arrested and buried to transmit farther.

Someone told me the other day I take art too seriously, and I thought, maybe so. Maybe, I thought, I am the outsider. In other words, maybe art has fallen victim to the same insidious rape of reality by a corporate ethos much of the population has swallowed.

I am an anti-artist, then. Along these same lines, what is left of our country? I would rather be an anti-citizen in an anti-country, banned from participating in the lifelong debt slavery of the hyper capitalist church.

I will seek the difficulty in objects and words and images within the newly fabricated prisons of American dissidence. I look forward to getting out of the role of mainstream American citizen, and into indefinite detention where I can experiment in our dystopian prisons.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Astrid Bowlby permalink
    04/01/2012 1:47 am

    Thank you for your thoughts. Last week it seemed the topic in each student’s studio was what their job might NOT be. It might not be their job to make things comfortable for their viewer, for example. This discomfort or difficulty can take many forms, some more or less extreme, but nonetheless, needs to be in the forefront of the maker’s mind.

  2. 07/06/2012 1:02 pm

    It’s really fascinating and interesting. I loved to read.

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