November 22nd, 2010 / 12:15 am
Power Quote

Mute Prophecies

“In traditional cultures art offered visual and other types of definitions or embodiments of the prevailing cultural and philosophical measure. In times when the measure is broken into contradictory fragments, the role of the artist, in Kounellis’s view, is also shaped by contradiction. The artist must be at the same time social and political on the one hand, individually creative and self-expressive on the other. When the measure is changing, art can function either adversarily to destroy lingering credulity about the past measure or positively to fashion or define a new one. This is the great power of art and the great and serious role of the artist. The artist performs an interruption in the stream of measure, or of false measure as in our time; this interruption is the creative/destructive act through which the lingering appeal of the old measure may be destroyed and a new measure found. In Kounellis’s view, an artist who attempts something else in his or her work does not understand the solemnity of truly belonging to history. His or her art does no real work. It enters the world of the market or of entertainment or of the mass media but it does no real work with the roots of culture and the problem of human nature.”

Thomas McEvilley on Jannis Kounellis

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