Buffy Season 6 was an extremely strong and very strict revival of the the early 1600’s Life is a Dream wave (like, Quixote and The Tempest and L'illusion Comique and Lo Fingido Verdadero and Doctor Faustus and La vida es sueño): failure of narrative + magic + illusion + pyrrhonian skepticism + melancholy + cyclicality + genre-switching + grief + metafiction + theatrum mundi.
Contemporary art - of all sorts, shapes, materials and nakedness - is generally a waste of space/time/air/sweat/body fluids. Its lack of focus, clear purpose and general subjectiveness can be seen as decoys to hide how devoid of proper brain work most of it is.
It’s easy to see/watch/be a part of of contemporary art. You just have to stare at something for mere seconds and, eventually, buy something to expose and improve the “smart” facade. When in need of saying something about your favorite piece of contemporary art, you can’t do wrong with “it’s a critic of capitalism/gender roles/religion/war/patriarchalism/whatever floats your boat, dude *sips expensive drink*”
But one must devote major chunks of one’s free time to learn, appreciate, discuss literature, film, music, etc. Enduring art demands from the audience almost the same level of devotion its creators dedicated to it. Think of any lasting piece of literature. It will take you some time to read it, but its wide scope will linger with you forever, if it tickles your sweet spots (it will, hence the “lasting”).
Now, consider a series of photos displaying an erect middle finger in front of iconic constructions, the infantile idea behind it and the amount of conversation it prompted. Sure, its defensors will say that context matters and Ai Weiwei context alone - limited freedom of speech in his country - is enough to justify the existence of his art. But isn’t that the same route taken by spoiled teenagers when they’re forbidden to do what they like by their parents?
You can apply this argument to diminish the importance of almost all types of contemporary art. The ideas behind the tag are that fragile and laughable, so much so that I can’t remember a film or a book that acknowledges its existence without cracking a joke at it immediately.
If a piece of art tells something about the times in which it was made, can you imagine the trouble future generations will have if they try to decode our times through blocks of steel rather than through Disgrace?
Installations, perfomances, most of these things look cute on a tumblr dashboard, but the physical space necessary to expose, the mumble jumble talk surrounding it, it’s all an exaggeration. These kinds of things are nice as an extra to more substantial stuff. For instance: set designs, covers of albums, magazines, books, to decorate living rooms and such. Its superfluous nature has to be treated as just that: superfluous, as details to more meaningful things.
And yet, there’s not just “serious conversation” behind contemporary art, there’s also big bucks, a healthy commerce. The reason why it keeps going on strong it’s because it reaches to intellectually idle people, that can’t bother to waste time on more demanding art, but don’t want to be left out of “smart conversations”. So they inflate the importance of contemporary art as a shortcut to be cultural minded. It takes a trick to properly appreciate another one.