THE INDEPENDENT VOICE OF THE VISUAL ARTS

 

Three Tales of DIY Culture—Introduction

 

This issue of the New Art Examiner explores the explosive growth in practice and influence of DIY culture and Co-op galleries in three Midwestern cities, Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis.

These galleries are traditionally small spaces, often run by artists and driven less by the profit motive and market values than by artistic interests. In Chicago, there are Extase and the Condo Association, which we profile on inside pages, along with Heaven, Baby Blue, Agitator, Level 3, Tiger Strikes Asteroid and Slow galleries among many others.

But are the more artistic features of these spaces enough to define them as the new underground or the avant-garde of the 21st century? Can such a once historical phenomenon still exist in our contemporary cultural landscape?

The provocative views of artist, Geof Oppenheimer, make a useful contribution to the discussion. Oppenheimer states, in his interview with contributing editor, Evan Carter, that avant-garde’s meaning has shifted from unconventional and experimental ideas to a current definition of novel forms.

Oppenheimer’s interest in the concept is more about “pushing the policed boundaries of culture and meaning.” The old view of the avant-garde as being a radical defiance of convention is seen as a bourgeois value today. He also believes that the most radical thing one can do is to weaponize historical conventions. Artists, he claims, should “embrace formal convention as a tool to explode social convention.”

It is the goal of this issue to ponder these questions and allow them to drive us toward a deeper understanding of art and its role today. Consider sharing your thoughts on this pressing contemporary issue with us by writing to www.newartexaminer.org. We would like to publish your reactions in the next issue.

 

The Editors

 

 

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