There’s nothing new under the sun. The Boston Manifesto, a statement from concerned members of that city’s Institute of Contemporary Art in 1948, provided an accurate prophecy of the bubble of exclusion, irrelevance and big money hypocrisy that today’s establishment art world encourages:
“Modern art, the manifesto declared, had become ‘a cult of bewilderment’; the gap between critics and artists and the public had produced ‘a…playground for double-talk, opportunism, and chicanery at the public expense.’ Modern art had ‘come to signify for millions something unintelligible, even meaningless…'”
The writers later backed off from some of their sentiments-not because they were wrong, but because they prioritized staying in ideological lockstep with their fellow travelers. The educated class bought completely into the utopian delusion that the slate of society needed to be wiped clean to bring about heaven on earth-their version of heaven being one where they got to pick winners and losers based on the whims of cronyism.
Because of their grip on academia, administration, the media and the cultural institutions, buying into this establishment worldview became the only game in town. They fancied themselves the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected. These incestuous New Class snobs were content to retreat into the cloister of like-minded elitists, where art, both the objects and ideas, became just other forms of status symbols.
It’s fun to imagine what possibilities await us once we break the stranglehold these reverse King Midases of the Ivy League hold on our culture. For generations everything they’ve touched they’ve turned to shit, but still they kept up their tight networking, jealously guarding their privileges, working to exclude and undermine anything or anyone that would challenge their dominance. Since the results they produce themselves are often so poor, they’ve skewed the whole of society to assume credentials mean worthiness and achievement. Among the officially sanctioned creative classes, they’ve chosen a stance of entitled abuses of power instead of truly cultivating art that could connect with and inspire society at large.
But that voice from the outside won’t shut up. We’re not bewildered by the art world anymore, because in retrospect it’s all so clear how the culture went off the tracks, and just who was responsible for it. The exciting part is how we’re going to advance when we’re freed from the presumptions of the current power brokers. Their time is running out.