Sculpture in the Expanded Field by Rosalind Krauss is a well-discussed and significant theory of sculptural practice post-1960s. Published in 1985, the theory is still today (some 33 years later) referred to a guiding text for contemporary practice. However, can a text written in 1985 and the theory of post-modernism it refers to still be ‘contemporary’? Have the tenets of art shifted, and if so, in what direction?
The above are posed as rhetorical questions, however I do believe that the avant-garde of today is distinctly different in its cause and outcomes. Although linked to post-modernism, the art that I feel ‘succeeds’ (a definition that I will discuss at a later point) as art in the present day is work that makes a conscious effort to extend beyond the limits of post-modernity by emphasising human experience (and one that isn’t restricted to art-audiences). In this present-day art that I am encountering and myself trying to make within, the post-modern condition is negotiated rather than presented formally and the ‘hand of the artist’ is not elevated. It is distinctly non-architectural and non-structural.
I am also finding, more and more, that there is a tiredness in the ambiguity of post-modern (art created in the expanded field) works. That works created in this framework lacks the present-day emergence of intuitive sensation and the ecstasy that comes with a personal processing and understanding of complexity. To be modern (and by extension, to be relevant) now, is to engage others through art as a mental activity as opposed to seeking to present or represent objective reality. As far as I can see, to engage others in art as a mental activity, one must to point towards, but not at, art. The present-day contemporary accepts that it can engage in neither truth nor proof and instead functions as post-logical conceptions of sculptural occurrences where complexity itself is the medium.
At least, that’s how I see it.