Above: An installation photo of artworks by Kelley Walker at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Credit: Paula Cooper.
Obscenity may be sublime or grotesque, if it shatters the innocence of a natural world. But what can porn do in a world pornographied in advance? What can art do in a world simulated and travestied in advance? Except bring an added ironic value to appearances? Except tip a last paradoxical wink--of sex laughing at itself in its most exact and hence most monstrous form, laughing at its own disappearance beneath its most artificial form?--Jean Baudrillard
Given that millions of hard-core pornography videos are instantly available to watch for free on any Internet connected computer, how is the artist-photographer-film-maker of today supposed to respond or react to this distinctive turnabout in our visual culture? (Porn was, until 1999, a photo-filmic form that was taboo and repressed, whereas it is now close to being mainstream, usual, or at least unavoidable.)
Baudrillard takes this specific instance of porn (and its always-already visibility) and thinks of art practice in general. The question is how to make art in a visual culture which can be described as callous, knowing, cynical, inherently satirical? The artist cannot rely on any of these approaches as they are already in continuous operation at all times all across our digital visual-landscape.
Today, can any artist do more than merely "tip a last paradoxical wink"? Some sort of answer to this question--not a solution necessarily--can be the basis for an engaged visual-art practice.
(28 December 2018)