(Important note: if you are under fifty years old, please skip down to
the second essay below.)
End As We Know It
by CÚsar Marzetti
Late in the last century, the rise of theory spawned
the rise of anti-aestheticism. Even for cultural theorists discussions
concerning aesthetics were often carried out in a critical shorthand that
failed to engage with the work of art, much less any notions of aesthetic
experience. Any attempt to see the art object as embodying and conveying
knowledge in itself quickly faded as an outdated conception.
People started to make art at university in response to what theory they
read. The writing became fundamental in creating the art: it served the
art and the art served the writing. The practical body of work suffered
accordingly. Any changes in the discourses surrounding contemporary art
became intimately linked to art education and to the artist's 'professionalization'.
Moving into this new century, the art object has become a distant concern.
A work of art no longer applies as the source for one's conviction of its
value. An art object is no longer visually distinct from a non-art object.
Instead, its placement in an art space and context has orientated it
within an established network of artistic practices, ideas, debates and
modes of display otherwise known as the 'artworld'. This leaves art solely
as an artworld activity, an institutional activity.
Such a peripheral focus makes a discussion of the art object irrelevant
and instead targets art only in relation to accepted discourse, modes of
representation and elucidation..
A revived aestheticism encourages the idea that the intrinsic impact of a
work of art has the potential to open radically different ways of thinking
about identity, politics and culture. If we encourage 'theory' to enter a
more reflective phase, we can expect the appearance of a new aestheticism.
At a moment that is often termed 'post-theoretical', this is a direct
index to which there is a renewed willingness among critics and
philosophers to consider the ways in which cultural theory often
overlooked key aspects of the object.
The Kresge Prize hopes to restore
a consideration of the physicality of the artwork, and of style and form. The
Kresge Prize heralds a priority for art practice to develop organically
again, without being constricted by measurable criteria but reclaiming
now-mythologized terms such as creativity, artist and art: special
qualities requiring freedom from any externally imposing theory.