Sick Mood at Sunset (etc.)

Sick Mood at Sunset…. or, the Impossibility, Despite Contradictory Popularity, & Despite Innumerable Well-intentioned, & less Well-intentioned, Naive, Complicit &/or Opportunistic Attempts at Deploying Art to Convincingly Describe, Document, Improve or Intervene in – or to Categorically Respond in the Affirmative to the Questions it Itself Poses, in any Real Way – the Actual Physical or Temporal Circumstances for which it was Produced & which Determine its’ Modes of Display, 2018

Alex Gawronski Sick Mood at Sunset 3 2018
Alex Gawronski Sick Mood at Sunset 4 2018
Alex Gawronski Sick Mood at Sunset 5 2018
Alex Gawronski Sick Mood at Sunset 7 2018

Alex Gawronski:Sick Mood at Sunset (etc.), 2018

(Ply, timber, stain, wall-mounted lamps, amplifier, mini-CD player, speakers, wiring)

KNULP, Sydney, NSW.

The imperative of Progress, despite its thorough critical dismantling during the previous decade, is back with a vengeance. Today, the notion of progress seems to function primarily on the level of garnering profits. Innovation, a concept intimately associated with progress, meanwhile occurs often at the same base economic level. And it needs to, because in a globalised context there is always more and more competition. From a cultural perspective, contemporary ‘innovations’ frequently represent only the known and familiar. Only the economic machinations used to animate cultural clichés behind the scenes are increasingly strategically complex and innovative. Of course this does very little for actual culture including art and any remnant notions of liberation (as opposed to liberalization) historically associated with the latter. For many this is just the ‘reality’ of our current world whose every aspect has been financialized, often literally, to death. But as the late great political economist Mark Fisher reminded us in his book Capitalist Realism, this ‘reality’ is a ruse activated to put every aspect of life to work, even at times when we believe we are not working.

The ‘Sick Mood at Sunset’ (paraphrased from a somewhat histrionically titled painting by Edward Munch from 1892) is already with us, only we love to pretend, and are frequently cajoled into believing, that the neoliberal imperative of economic ‘progress’ offers the only realistic way out of our present global mire and into a more positive Future. The ‘Green Economy’? Sure! (especially for those enamoured of oxymora), so long as there are profits to be had. Similarly, much socially orientated contemporary art paradoxically avoids addressing the ethical compromises endemic to the global art world as though these were totally unrelated. Well. If this is what you TRULY believe, despite extensive evidence to the contrary, then welcome to my Antechamber of the End.

Rather than directly (and predictably) opposing the culture it hints at, this installation invoked the least ‘contemporary’ (and therefore least ‘progressive’) aesthetic signifiers imaginable. It suggested something like a private Gentleman’s Club or 19th Century Smoking Room where undisclosed personal and political deals were often struck in an atmosphere of competitive phallocentric posturing disguised as leisure. The work further suggested the paradoxes of a world obsessed once more with the mantra of progress, yet dominated evermore by regressive tradition.

Written by alex gawronski

December 24, 2018 at 10:38 PM