“Since antiquity two extremes of attitude towards the artist have been discernible. One of these considers him as the entertainer of more important men — his art is superior to that of the juggler in that it is rarer and is capable of producing more durable pleasure but it performs a similar social function. The other attitude represents the artist as the processor not merely of skills but of an altogether superior insight into the nature of reality.”
There is a Bruce Nauman neon sign, a spiral which reads: “The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths”. It makes a very controversial statement, evoking the idea of the artist as the “seer” which has been en bloc dismissed by the postmodern. If we look at this statement today, it could be seen as satire. The average post-Duchampian artist has rejected this position, but the sentiment is undeniably still very much present in contemporary art.
What is the rationale to the concept of the artist being a “keeper of truths” — a position that raises questions regarding authority, knowledge, morality — today, in the age of opinion, information, science and facts — and how to implement it?
My ongoing project, “Personal Service Announcement” integrates a series of works that reflect on the idea of the artist as a moral leader — with a metamodernist stance, in a moral relativist context — by offering a set of “absolute truths” meant as ethical advice, but relativizing their authoritative nature in various ways.
“Personal Service Announcement” is a growing collection of short, personal ‘educational texts’, paraphrasing the genre of the aphorism, a phrase that expresses a true or wise idea of social guidance, in a metamodernist manner. The texts of PSA are mostly based on my own notes-to-self, scraps, idea-particles, but the collection declaredly contains appropriated material as well, without naming the source. The messages vary greatly in content and subject, the only cohesive force being their common relation to a sense of morality. I view them as clippings of a comprehensive moral code.
Some of my influences are the culture of social guidance, educational films and posters of the 1960’s to 80’s Europe, the agitprop of the communist era, current tendencies of Internet-based “inspirational quotes”, stand-up comedy, and pop-lyrics. As parasitical inhabitation, the texts of PSA appropriate and subtly mimic the format, design, language and to some extent even the content of global consumer culture — product design, advertisement slogans, billboards, printed t-shirts etc. — only to occupy, divert, reinterpret and re-calibrate these to deliver the respective message.