The Art of Exhaustion: Why Fake Apathy Is The Intellectual Bedrock of Contemporary ArtPosted: November 4, 2012
Apathy (also called impassivity or perfunctoriness) is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life.
They may lack a sense of purpose or meaning in their life. He or she may also exhibit insensibility or sluggishness. In positive psychology, apathy is described as a result of the individual feeling they do not possess the level of skill required to confront a challenge. It may also be a result of perceiving no challenge at all (e.g. the challenge is irrelevant to them, or conversely, they have learned helplessness). In light of the insurmountable certainty of universal doom, apathy is the default mode of existential nihilism, and, as such, is not considered to be a pathological state by those who experience it. Of course all implications of this were fully explored by Arthur Schopenhauer back in the nineteenth-century.
Modern art is also exhausted. The twentieth-century avant-garde endlessly lived out its own death with the chatter of neo-critical production. But despite all the talk about the death of art – stemming, of course, from the debates of the Young Hegelians in the 1840s about the status of art in Hegel’s system once one moved from romantic poetry to philosophy within absolute mind – art is very much alive and kicking and selling for even more wedge than it did before it allegedly snuffed it. Death is big business – go ask an undertaker!
The coolness of death is part of the allure of both modernist and now contemporary art. That is why today’s artist’s must appear so unappealing and so indifferent. Contemporary artists must fake apathy if they are to be taken seriously. After modernism there is no place for romanticism and passion in real art – serious artists are more interested in money than themselves, and those that are fixated on authenticity and their own lives either disappear up their own arses or become vulgar celebrities like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. But art that is truly contemporary and of today – like the work of Liam Gillick and Ai Weiwei – fakes an apathetic interest in the social while pursing financial success at all costs. This is why fake apathy is the bedrock of contemporary art! Baudrillard was right – the social has disappeared into the black (arse)hole of the masses! So remember kids: make it look apathetic or lose all art world credibility! Now go make some money!
4 Responses to The Art of Exhaustion: Why Fake Apathy Is The Intellectual Bedrock of Contemporary Art
michael hampton | August 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm De Sade was an exponent/advocate of apathy, especially when/whilst incarcerated in the Bastille, so it might also be classified as a type of stoicism in the face of impossible odds/circumstances, or even embracing suffering, or long suffering. But I take your point about the fraudulent idiot savants of the contemporary artworld who perpetrate their vacuous undercover exercises in branding.
kperry | August 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm Reblogged this on kperry is ammut.
chusmartinezproject | August 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm Thanks!
Justin Sayings (@JustinSayings) | August 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm As money subsumes productivity what is increasingly celebrated as great art is the generation of money, of value, while we lose the ability to care about anything other that our supposedly expanding by actually shrinking social surroundings.
But I wonder do not Hirst and Emin and Co actually lack vulgarity and represent a refined from of inanimate life, a stifled emotional state like a fungus eating way at our values and anything living in the name of individual dominance.