Occupy Art: The end of contemporary art or its rebirth?

A BBC news article on April 30th, 2012 questioned whether or not contemporary art has met its death in Occupy Wall Street. Some members of the Occupy movement have begun to protest what they called in the Art Newspaper “the rampant financialisation of art.” Their efforts promote a free exchange art economy which is what is signifying to some a shift to the end of contemporary art. However, in these interviews reported in the Art Newspaper, members of the movement indicate they desire to “branch out” from the contemporary art world. This rhetoric seems to indicate a desire to maintain contemporary art, but create a new version. Occupy Wall Street does not signal the death of contemporary art, but rather its rebirth and ability to evolve to meet the needs of the public. College lecturer in media studies, Mark Read, states in the article, “A lot of the work coming out of Occupy is not concerned with how it will be perceived by a buying public. It’s not designed to be bought, but shared – it’s designed to be made available as widely as possible.” I am of the opinion that this view of Occupy art is very much emblematic of our age of technology. Technology allows artwork to change form, which is what really sets apart Occupy art from other art movements in the past. A piece of artwork can enter the movement in one medium and be rapidly transformed into another, and shared. The artwork used in Occupy Wall Street reflects one of the central tenets of the movement itself: the ability to evolve with the political climate of theUnited States. What’s new about many artists in the Occupy Movement is they aren’t graduates of premier fine arts schools, rather they’re craftsmen. Molly Crabapple, a graphic artist, is a member of this group. She reflects the adaptability of Occupy Wall Street Art through her work and how she promotes it. Crabapple is famous for her drawing of the Octopus reading “Fight the Vampire Squid.”

Crabapple originally posted the picture online, but then citizens across the country used it to create protest signs. Crabapple made use of the Kickstarter website, which is a way of receiving donations to fuel creative ventures. She rose over $64,000 to fund her artwork, and make it accessible to share. She is an example demonstrating this new branch of contemporary art doesn’t mean finances won’t be tied to art, just redistributed in a way that makes the message more important than what will sell to an audience. This poses a direct challenge to galleries. Because all the art in the Occupy movement is designed to share, audiences don’t need expensive galleries to purchase work. However, what must be remembered in this case is that Occupy Wall Street is a fad. The movement is volatile and quick to change. Contemporary art can end. But that time is not now, and likely it will branch off and evolve into something new.

-Jenny Questell

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2 responses to “Occupy Art: The end of contemporary art or its rebirth?

  1. Pingback: Alright… so just what is Occupy Wall Street? | Occupy Wall Street Analysis

  2. Pingback: QAGoMA ~ Contemporary Australian Women « KastomK

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