Institutional art? The art of misleading or postnothing ideology?Costis Georgiou

ATHENS. January 1998. Only two years before the year 2000 and 2500 years after Plato, Aristotle, Herakletos, Ebedokles.

LONDON. January 1998. Sound of many decibel. Silence. Three men all dressed up in white are approaching a white cloth. Right in front of it there is a slaughtered lamb hanging upside down. One of the men is getting undressed while the other one is pouring cups of blood at this man?s back, giving him some of it to drink and also smearing his body with the entrails of the lamb. The naked man is in ecstasy, enjoying the moment with exultation.

This is not a scene taken from a satanic ceremony, although it could have been so. This is an extreme way of showing lack of expression?s ability and a hopeless effort to impress a public lost in a systematic misleading of the mind which in order to feel modern is prepared to put down huge amounts of money ? by the same time also confirming its insecurity ? to get what can only be characterized as ephemeral based on blood and excrement.

The "pioneer" artist representative of the Vienna Axionism is selling to his public slaughtered lambs, pigs and cows, well presented with sound effects such as howls and war sirens coming from the background. He doesn?t even hesitate to use Aristotle as a philosophical alibi to his profitable course, taking advantage of a hungry public and misinterpreting the meaning of Catharsis, as defined by the great Greek philosopher.

In the twilight of 2000 we are still living under the shadow of a declining ideology and we are still eating transformed potatoes which eventually turn into tomatoes with the qualities of rice. Furthermore the first gene cloned creatures lead us inevitably to a future which we can only approach through fantasy, making Orwell seem like a little scout boy.

We live in the star of an ephemeral, declining and kitsch world where everything is wrapped up in a shiny cover ready to be served and consumed in a modern society, which this way expresses its high aesthetics and its avant guarde art. Man himself a victim of his own arrogant feeling of superiority, touches with a self destructive strain more and more the open flesh on his abdomen to feel the pain of his existence, which leads him inevitably further and further away from his natural origins and his philosophical autonomy.

In this world of complex illusions, of fast food ideology and of light way of thinking anything that causes an apparent long echo seems to be prevailing and conquering the art world too, no matter how unstructured or poor it might be.

I see pieces of broken glass, burned wood and dead fish all being exposed in great halls of museums, giving away their terrible stink far to the other end of the world along with Hirst?s dead cows in the formaldehyde and the excrement in the tin (merde d? artiste) by Bernard Baile all ready to be passed on to the poor spectator who, standing aside, is watching lost and in bewilderment everything that is happening around him undergoing a systematic embalment of the thought and the spirit.

As a simple average thinking mind considering all this I feel overwhelmed by deep sorrow and desertion. What is being after here is the catching off guard of the audience as well as the creation of a false conscience-alerting, the way of course the so called artist wishes to. At the sight of all this, on the contrary, I feel terrible boredom and indifference which eventually turn all this to be a senseless kind of convention within its fancy verbal literature.

We become witnesses of the birth and promotion of a new sick, institutional art and victims of a destructive misleading process aiming at a new order of things being conceived by central and self-serving brains.

This way, we see more often in plastic arts as well as in other artistic fields idols made for immediate consume and with a certain expire date, created by mass media, rich ladies?cocktail parties, gallery openings and by questionable acquaintances of hidden golden means whose vocation lies everywhere else but in art.

One could think I am obsessed by a pursuit-mania against anything new, but I can assure you this is not the case. On the contrary, I support every innovation bringing creative wealth and have no intention of giving a lecture nor do I want to perform cheap criticism risking anyway to be characterized as conservative or as just another Don Quixote of art, yet safe in his old well known ideas.

My job is not to preach. Art is one way or another a kind of religious speech. My job consists in producing alive pictures instead of verbal arguments. I have to expose every side of life and not just talk about life, as Gogol wrote to Zukovski.

This is simply a declaration of my opinion, perhaps to exorcise the fear from my soul; a fear towards arrogant and ironic people who most of the times unable to listen to the sound of life and with unworthy experiences and cross-eyed look convey their insensitivity and without hesitating they request the acceptance of a sick point of view towards life, declaring themselves as leaders in art. The reversal is obvious. Yet, everyone seems to be at ease and happy.

The unforgettable Andrei Tarkovski said: ?Can it be that those who first talked about avant garde were themselves unable to distinguish wheat from weeds? confused with the new esthetic structures, lost at the sight of a genuine reorganization of things and of new scientific achievements, unable to define their own standards they included everything unfamiliar and difficult to perceive into the entity of avant garde art, so to be on the safe side, avoiding any possible mistakes.?

The great loser from this twisted situation of different interests and values is of course the public interested in art. A public which has been purposely misled from the invigorating and awakening power of real art, placed on the sphere of tame consumers
and repeating the word of an ?enlightened? group of people, dancing to the music of a beguiling tune, well composed by upper brains of closed social and political circles.
The recipe of the soup served in all lengths and widths of the world is easy: a work should be ephemeral, quickly conceived and bringing about more or less feelings of shock; furthermore it should be easy and simple for the public to perceive but also with obvious hints of a supporting philosophical thought, meaning it should be well presented, for this is what it is all about. An other version of the recipe requires a perplexed concept and incomprehensible hidden meanings in order to produce an alibi to those who like to call themselves "great thinkers" who spin their own web of interests in their convenience, working harder towards the direction of keeping the public controlled between spiritual walls.

I believe the artist is missing his point by seeking desperately on the surface some appalling theme or whatsoever in order to provoke, or to simply impress. The real artist owes it first of all to himself and then to the public, to resist the sirens of a leading-group dictating today?s life-style, which systematically tries to deprive the whole society from the meaning, the substance and the reason of things happening. The real artist should stand up dynamically and with responsibility against this enveloping prevailing modern concept which declares that nothing in life requires special skills and nothing needs approval and that the obvious connection between effort and result is not necessary. This is what an artist should fight against for. His only weapon in doing so is the truth. The truth is the one and only mean of bringing avant guarde spirit in art and in life. One has of course to find it.

Costis Georgiou