New People, 1997    

Today, so-called Contemporary Artists are extremely successful and hip but they are not the only active artists around. There are still Surrealists in Paris; Abstract Expressionists in NY, In Amsterdam and Rome you can find even Impressionists who still paint landscapes, flowers and nudes.
These artists have their own magazines, their galleries and their critics. They make exhibitions and there are collectors who are buying their works. A few of them are even very expensive. Societies don’t disappear easily; people use to defend their style and their way of life. The Surrealists still give a lot of importance to Imagination; Expressionists still drink a lot etc. Most of these artists try their best and a few of them are unusual and charismatic individuals. But their efforts are meaningless because "Art"- a Dancing Queen in Life’s nightclub is bored by them and she moved to other tables already. When Art abandons a group of people she takes her gifts back. Radicalism, the spirit of invention, any fresh beauty and sensuality dries out.
What remains is only fatigue because for last, Art takes away the specter of Power and Authority and gives to some people: a bunch of new "artists" who nobody had even noticed! These New People, these barbarians become the new Art Stars.

Ninety years after Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, it's time for a change again. There is a new planet -the Internet- and we already live in it, there are Videogames that are changing the way we touch the World but still, while the psychological space of the computer screen is ever-expanding, Contemporary Art doesn't care. Quite all Artists who dominate the Art Market today are working and socializing in the "Real World". Either they are Installation Gurus, or Surprise Artists, Social Agitators, and Nouveaux-Pop, or just plain Painters and Photographers; they all search, experiment and build their work (and career) off-line.
Contemporary Artists are constantly busy with Real-Life and they produce Real Objects: a big photo in a frame, a small unframed photo in an empty room, a video played on a TV or a video projection. New British Art. An old object in a new combination, some paintings, a text that is suppose to be more important as an "image" than an image or some over-scaled dolls and other colorful toys with metaphorical power. Stuffed animals and things sealed in glass boxes so that they will look German and serious are on the top of this list. And of course we still test "Art" with the ritual of the "Exhibition": everyone is evaluated according to his/her ability of delivering shows. Contemporary Art has become the "Art of Exhibition". In this sense, being an Artist is now an academic career, as well as a respected University Professor is expected to produce a number of papers; a respected Contemporary Artist must fill regularly the large empty spaces of the Art Galleries and Museums.

Installation Gurus and Surprise Artists, Social Agitators, and Biennial Fighters, Nouveaux-Pops, or just plain Painters and Photographers who know how to entertain with their carefully planned exhibitions, the clan of these artists, together with their curators, collectors and dealers, is the Clan of Contemporary Art. It is powerful and exclusive, filled with cool young people. Few in this clan have the time or the frame of mind to experiment with the Internet and videogames. Well, it's a pity for them because they will be left behind once Art is done with them. They will still have their galleries their Museums and collectors but it will hardly matter at that point. They will seam old, irrelevant, in terms of evolution; they will be left “a step behind".



Miltos Manetas, New York 1997-1999

Published at "100 Years after Les Demoiselles d’Avignon", a book by Miltos Manetas.