Art Lies, Volume 47, Summer 2005 Page: 51
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by Noah Simblist
tr 61 ~1~, ~ ~ - 91064 A~
The Atlas Group I Walid Raad, Sweet Talk File (Plate 445), 1991-2005
46 x 46 inches
Copyright the artist, courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London
What does it mean for artists to organize? It's the kind of thought that
would give Karl Rove the shivers. For many, the idea of "the artist" in
contemporary society holds the same associations it did throughout the
rise and duration of Modernism; in other words, artists are still assumed
to be leftists, progressives and rabble-rousers, ever ready to push against
m the grain of society. But does this really hold true today?
From Diego Rivera to Picasso, Modern artists were linked to Socialism,
Communism, Maoism, Trotskyism and other "countercultural" utopian
ideas for a good portion of the twentieth century-thus the infamous
blacklist of the McCarthy era. This period also produced revolutions in
philosophical thought, psychoanalysis and linguistic study, all of which
had powerful implications for the way we regard identity: as a nexus
between the personal and the cultural. Writers such as Jacques Lacan,
Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault-and the visual experiments of
artists from Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol challenged many long-
standing beliefs-everything from individuality to originality.
There are a number of modernist conceptions of identity that per-
sist, despite the fact that many strategies of artmaking-from materials
to subject matter-have been overturned in the past forty years. (For
those of us who experienced the waves of influence that theory has
held over academia and curatorial practice, this might seem surprising.)
Not everyone will get this off the bat.
For instance, the concept of the artist as one who works alone in a
garret still persists, and art is still a solitary activity for many. This ten-
dency reaffirms the idea of the artist as genius-a kind of quasi-mystical
shaman who reveals either truth or beauty to the masses. Maybe this
has something to do with the deification of the rich and famous who,
like the gods on Olympus, we look to as stand-ins for our own fantasies.
Separated from us, they seem stronger, wiser and more beautiful-at
least, that's how the myth goes. This might seem to suggest that we
may well be stuck in the past; however, the acceptance of multiple con-
temporary artmaking strategies that don't compromise the "holiness"
of the artwork is a promising sign. This may be symptomatic of a wider
melding of mythologies, in which both the secular and religious icons
of art have evolved. Even within this structure, however, ambivalent
distinctions between high and low art and commerce persist.
ARTL!ES Summer 2005 51
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Bryant, John & Gupta, Anjali. Art Lies, Volume 47, Summer 2005, periodical, 2005; Houston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth228012/m1/53/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .