Participation as Kitsch - Henry Jones
In the past two decades, the excessive use of participation in contemporary art has resembled the egg described in the third scene of the1967 movie “Week End” by Jean Luc-Goddard. This egg, dripping from the inners of the artistʼs buttocks after the moment of climax has started to run down her legs, and has displayed the fatality of the particular element. Since the burst, institutionalized contemporary art has been producing unintelligent matter through the globalized market, and has penetrated the nucleus of alternative spaces, universities and collectives. The word art does not only need new definitions attached to it but a reevaluation, for there are too many people who have turned to participation, and transformed it in to kitsch.
This trend of participatory involvement has created artists who seem assiduous to the use of ordinary people and mundane ways of telling their stories. And it is apparent that life is much more complex and intensified, participation seems pervasive throughout the art market. Using terminology such as post-production or altermodernism do not convey new messages, but just as any other vestibule of appropriation, the labeling of these acts reminds all of the failure of taxonomy. The shift away from Walter Benjaminʼs notion of a “Producer” has altered the viewer or participant as the sidekick to the modern day artist or facilitator. In this weak relationship, viewer-artist associations have become dependent on formal and ambiguous methods of communication, which in turn render the audience as the signifier to the artistʼs unconvincing solipsism. And although materiality has been diluted with the immaterial and virtual, the works of influential artists of the 21st century who utilize the monologue of others have fallen short of the truth, and therefore cracking the egg that is participation. This failure can be directly linked to Bertolt Brechtʼs 1935 “Writing The Truth: Five Difficulties”, and the immanent defeat in executing what the author refers to as “special cunning in spreading the truth”. The prominent utopian ideals that have been served by recent artists in gallery spaces are merely the remnants of the egg that has cracked at the moment realization, nothing digested or clever.
Complexification of life is immanent, and at no point should it come in junction with a harmonious belief system. What it must provoke is the natural progression of the introvert towards inner chaos and the amplification of the disorderly human interstice. This inner chaos is not embedded in one individual, but in the depths of the psyche of the collective. The artist may be out of the studio, but she is not in the company of others. She is roaming alone while porous to the external world, and regurgitating it as pig shit- the true essence of art. Art is not about the kitsch of participation, for that egg is covering the inner thighs of numerous contemporary artist. Its most important attributes stem from the misanthropic yet polyvocal existence of the camerawoman.
The aestheticization of works are not solely dependent on the creator, but on traversing through the liminal space of identities- a neo-social praxis.