Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Contemporary Art vs Patrimoine

Claude François et les Clodettes, a national phenomenon

The fact that this “patrimoine” is understood on a mass-level, and the fact that it instills pride, tells us that the arts are indeed a means of building nationalism - whether this is positive, negative or both. In other words, the arts provide a shared sense of self.

But the cradle of the patrimoine here in France is so comforting, so understanding, so motherly, that a cultural sleepiness seems to have emerged. Rare, it seems, is the French misfit or renegade. For even she is embraced, to the point that she fails to really serve her purpose: that is, to say no, to divert. Art doesn’t necessarily need to go counter, but it does need to go its own way.

The fact that our sense of cultural commonality in the U.S. is so flimsy and fragmented perhaps explains why, paradoxically, our contemporary art scene has a stronger heartbeat. Making art in the US continues to be a dissident act, an expression of quirk, an urge to give a flat existence flavor. Here delicious flavor is never far, so why travel?

Next time: quirk from within the system

No comments: