It is 2027. When we look back, what would be emblematic of art anno 2017? What do we experience as recurrent themes and concepts in contemporary art nowadays? What is going to be its legacy? Two thoughts occur to me at once. First, art is politicized. Meaning that artists are using politics as a subject or activists turn to art to be political. Second, art is on a pursuit “to include”. It endeavors to include the public in general and “the other” in particular. It also tries to look further than the existing canon in order to include overlooked artists. These thoughts together mean that the institution of art attempts to not only provide visual pleasure. This tendency goes hand in hand with a shot to create art that is not only designated for the white male.
Perhaps this text will be a testimony of Euro-centrism because it only takes a Dutch point of perspective into account. But I can only write about what I know. For instance, if you would use The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam as a case study, previously mentioned thoughts come to play. One of the current exhibitions is a solo one in which a Nalini Malani installation is on view. Her work deals with feminism, Orientalism, and other cultural stereotypes. This exhibition is characterized to be going to beyond the boundaries of a stuck narrative; she enables room for a dialogue. It goes hand in hand with art having political potential. This notion could be applied to another exhibition as well, namely Solution or Utopia? Design for Refugees. A political problem in the white cube. Art used in order to “humanify” refugees. In – probably – an attempt to include a non-canonical artist Chris Beekman, De Stijl Defector is on view. Apparently, he was one of the most politically active artists affiliated with this movement, but he is forgotten. Every now and then, “neo” art pops up. Perhaps this could count as another emblematic notion of art anno 2017. Artists anno the 2010’s are unable to completely shake off art history. I am not arguing that they should, because – for example – pop art and Dadaism were certainly political art movements at their own time. But it is not exactly refreshing to see Seth Price huge solo exhibition in which I can only think: this is kind of like pop art. Instead of using mass culture as a source of inspiration, is using the mass archive: the internet as a source. Although I bet there will be other tendencies incorporated in art 2017’s legacy when we would look back at it in 2027. But that will provide us with a nice topic of conversation while we are driving a flying car.