Monday, June 5, 2023

On the Hirshhorn, Wodiczko, and Why We Don’t Need Any More Bad Art

Krzysztof Wodiczko

Krzysztof Wodiczko

The Washington Post’s Phillip Kennicott on why The Hirshhorn Museum’s decision to pull a Krzysztof Wodiczko video projection last week is “an unnecessary concession to the new American troll culture, a vocal demographic that often enjoys taking offense because they live in a virtual world defined by rapid recrimination, bullying and thoughtlessness.”

I agree with Kennicott’s characterization of both self-censoring art institutions and our new troll culture. Where we part ways is his plea that artists deal with our “gun crisis.” First, we would have to address whether “we” (presumably the U.S.) have a gun crisis (see Sam Harris’ The Riddle of the Gun article from 2013), and second, whether art is the best way to address this or any other political crisis.

We must remember that bad art is bad art. Simply calling it “political” does nothing other than appease one’s constituency and friends. It does nothing else. It’s bad art. We have enough of that. What we do need is art that takes us to a place, philosophically and aesthetically, that allows for alternative modes of existence that are not predicated on current modes and current methods of analysis and critique. We’ve had enough of this so-called “critical theory” and dismal state of art it has left us with.

So yes, project Wodiczko’s video, but no, please don’t encourage artists to make bad art.


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