Being a young art historian and museologist who loves to travel and move a lot, moving to a new environment always meant getting to know a new art scene. After successfully getting familiar with the art in Croatia, Krakow and Venice while living and working there I made a decision of moving to Hamburg, Germany.
Every art scene is living phenomena with its own specific language that needs to be learned. It is vital to become a part of the art scene in order for me to understand and be able to present to my readers what is going on in Hamburg. In the past year that I spent in Hamburg, I found it very difficult to learn the language of the scene here. For this reason I decided to start a blog about the art in Hamburg, I’m sure that this will bring me closer to what I’m most interested in.
This blog will encourage me to attend exhibitions, talks, visit street art points, festivals and art studios, maybe even conduct interviews. With this blog, I will simultaneously get to pursue my passion, develop my writing skills, as well as feed my curatorial ambition. During my studies I started focusing mostly on modern and contemporary art, as well as museum/gallery practices and in the past several years my personal interest started meeting my professional interest.
The inspiration for the name contemporary.gray comes from an internal joke I had years ago with very dear friends. Having coffee, discussing every possible thing in the world the turn came to talking about curators. At that time I was still striving to become one, so my friends used to tease me saying that in order to become a curator I have to dress and look “contemporary gray”. It came as a critique towards the stereotypical look of curators, who not only curate galleries and museums but have to curate themselves as well. We still make jokes concerning the glorification and usage of the minimalist black, white and gray color schema design, as a way of distancing oneself from the colorful kitsch decorative pattern of those who ‘just don’t understand’ design. Calling the blog contemporary.gray flirts with the ‘I know better’ stereotype and I hope to break those stereotypical views on what the art world is.
Before moving to Hamburg, many had told me the art scene here was small, dull and lifeless. What I discovered from my time spent here is that those accusations are mostly false. Indeed, the scene here is small, but it is, contrary to what some said, very vivid, interesting and above all intriguing. This blog is not only my journey towards getting me closer to it and tracking the creative spirit that runs in the streets, the artist studios, galleries and museums of the city, but it is also a platform where I want to write about art theory and museum practices. Readers can, hence, find out about what is going on in Hamburg as well as get a theoretical frame and a professional point of view.
I intend to use this introduction to tell about myself, even more specific about what my view on art is and what interests me. Majoring in both, contemporary art & art theory as well as museum practices, and working in several art institutions I discovered that I am very much concerned about finding a link between art and people who “consume” it. There is a clear-cut opinion most people have on contemporary art. They tend to question its “artiness”, therefore this is where I find my position as a mediator.
In order to understand my reasons for getting involved and falling in love with the „art that no-one understands“ I need to give you a theoretical frame about my thoughts on art:
Every epoch has its own set of rules and contemporary art isn’t excluded from this notion. What most people find annoying is the fact that today’s art is not easy to look at, understand or like, hence many tend to disregard its quality. It becomes understandable to ask why shouldn’t they? Although it may appear I am generalizing when I say this, but the art within my narrow focus, tends to be ambiguous, criticizing, mocking and often tries to change opinions. These are qualities that tend to make people unlikable so why should we be caring about any art work that makes us feel unconformable?
To defend contemporary art a certain context should be explained. In the 60s there is a shift in the paradigm: modernism was no longer considered to be the main theoretical platform used for interpreting art, culture and society. The interest moved from the appearance of the art work to the question of interpreting its nature. Art works themselves became theoretical artifacts and were changing the definitions of what art is or should be. The shift also meant a change of the status art was having. Art was put out of its autonomous domain of the pure visual to the field of culture theory and the art world.
Beginning with a period of Romanticism, the trend of art works becoming remarkable, original, innovative and noticeable subjective will go on through the entire 20th century culminating towards the end of the century with post-modernism. This trend also means that the art works have become most commonly incomprehensible to the general public. In the contemporary art, as Nicolas Bourriaud puts it, a work of art is studied as a social inter-space and it bears witness to a radical change of aesthetic, cultural and political goals. That is why in order to grasp the greatness of the contemporary art there is sometimes a need for explanations and interpretations. Art becomes increasingly pronounced, so art theory is understood as an intermediary between art and culture itself.
I believe that in contemporary art there is a specific language and a translator or interpreter is welcome to make visitors understand the language of contemporary art where critical thinking and engaged observation is often necessary. Gaining a deeper insight into the meanings of particular art works will eventually lead to starting to understand contemporary art concepts in general. This is what I hope to be helping with.
Each post will both give my personal thoughts on the topic as well as a theoretical frame for those who are interested in getting a deeper insight.