Perspective from art critic Boris Groys

Sunday, April 3rd was a rainy day in London, but I did not mind at all. I woke up a little after nine, threw on passable workout clothes, looked at the list of galleries I had researched, figured out how to get to the one I was most eager to visit, and set off for my day. This is how I spent most of my time abroad in London, and I have never been happier.

I first went to White Cube in Bermondsey to see an exhibition titled “The History of Nothing.” While I was captivated by the installations and their challenging themes of love and emptiness, I realized I had allocated my visit an unnecessary amount of time and still had a few more hours before most galleries would close. So, I hopped on the tube for forty minutes and ventured to zone two to see an exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection called ‘Emotional Supply Chains’.

It was in the eccentric museum’s literature for this thought-provoking, avant-garde exhibition that I came upon the name Boris Groys. The pamphlet only mentioned the art critic in passing, noting a recent essay where Groys discussed how in today’s digital age we are all in a constant stage of mass production. Having made no plans for the rest of the night and having been incredibly intrigued by Emotional Supply Chains and its exploration of the individual in the digital age, I tracked down Groys’ essay when I later returned to my dorm.

I thought I would share an excerpt from Groys’ “The Truth of Art” as I feel that its relevance transcends the focus of my blog and applies to our day and age as a whole.

“Indeed, the emergence of the internet leads to an explosion of mass artistic production. In recent decades artistic practice has become as widespread as, earlier, only religion and politics were. Today we live in times of mass art production, rather than in times of mass art consumption. Contemporary means of image production, such as photo and video cameras, are relatively cheap and universally accessible. Contemporary internet platforms and social networks like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram allow populations around the global to make their photos, videos, and texts universally accessible—avoiding control and censorship by traditional institutions. At the same time, contemporary design makes it possible for the same populations to shape and experience their apartments or workplaces as artistic installations. And diet, fitness, and cosmetic surgery allow them to fashion their bodies into art objects. In our times almost everyone takes photographs, makes videos, write texts, documents their activities—and then puts the documentation on the internet. In earlier times we talked about mass cultural consumption, but today we have to speak about mass cultural production. Under the condition of modernity the artist was a rare, strange figure. Today there is nobody who is not involved in artistic activity of some kind.

Thus, today everybody is involved in a complicated play with the gaze of the other. It is this play that is paradigmatic of our time, but we still don’t know its rules. Professional art, though, has a long history of this play.” – Boris Groys, The Truth of Art

The implications from “The Truth of Art” are powerful and vast.

In identifying people in our day and age as art producers, rather than consumers, Groys’ implies that content creation has become an integral part of our culture and our identities. In 2016, media has infiltrated most facets of our lives and daily routines. Our digital identities are now our most flattering pictures, and our interests on the internet are captured into excel fields and given to marketers. But, because we are all far more complex than data points, content creators need to think beyond the realms of outside the box not just to reach us as consumers, but to connect with us as people. When brands act as artists they should consider Groys’ point that we are all artists in this day and age. To truly forge a connection with people, brands should strive to create content that is all the more bold and unique.

Above is a video from the Zabludowicz Collection that captures the exhibition’s theme of the individual exploring the digital age.

This is a trailer for Bangkok-raised artist Korakrit Arunanondchai’s video “Painting with history in a room full of people with funny names.” Exhibition-goers were able to sprawl across cowhide beanbags and watch the video in the center of the museum. Again, Emotional Supply Chains was very modern.

The Zabludowicz Collection museum is housed inside a former Methodist chapel, built between 1867 and 1871. I took this picture of the entrance when I realized I wasn’t lost.
An installation view of ‘Emotional Supply Chains’ (image from ArtSlant)
Boris Groys espewing wisdom (image from YouTube)
Watching Arunanondchai’s “Painting with history in a room full of people with funny names” from a pile of cowhide beanbag chairs
White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey (my Instagram)

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