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Does all this political turmoil mean some more interesting art is on its way?

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Does all this political turmoil mean some more interesting art is on its way?

Andrew Ryan

I’m having internet nostalgia. I’m digging up things that were very much suited to my depressed-and-internet-addicted-tastes from like 10 years ago. I’m even getting music nostalgia to match. I remembered Sparklehorse, and now I’m listening to “Vivadixiesubmarinemissionplot”, something I haven’t heard for nearly 10 years. Jeez, why did I used to like Sparklehorse?

Anyway, so times right now are pretty interesting.

Aboriginal activism in Australia appears to be making some big ol’ steps towards recognition and acceptance of sovereignty, with previously far more disparate groups coming together thanks to the recent creation of internet based community and activist groups. We are seeing a new generation of activists strengthened by the work and passion of their elders, and it’s downright exciting.

Also:

The Liberals have blocked a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. This means that the people who can make the law cannot allow it to pass by voting according to their personal moral compass, which opposes their party line. It’s a bit gross to be in a political party in which the official line doesn’t support your beliefs though, isn’t it? That’s probably why the two party system in Australia is so gross, why people have lost faith in it. Politicians everywhere just being a bit gross.

Some commentators are predicting this move to be the downfall of this government. It could be. And the timing is pretty good for Aboriginal activists looking to connect with the portions of Australian citizenry who are not aware of their concerns and their environmentally sustainable culture. Many Australians want sustainability. Many Australians want equality. Looks like we’re actually one big mob hungry for connection and stability ey?

~~~

I went on big hunts for art on the internet over the last few days, and in my travels I came across the aforementioned internet nostalgia bringers. Images and videos, memes from years ago that used to feel so cutting edge, so exciting. Little tidbits of proclamations saying “I’m here, I feel, and I’m uncomfortable with all of that but I’m making stuff about it anyway”. It was an aesthetic I enjoyed. Within those early memes were implications of deep depression not-quite-hidden within idealism. I totally got it. The world is doomed, we all know it, yet we carry on. I was there with them. That feeling of “Guess I’ll just stare at this computer until I find something to save me from my crippling doubts about the worthiness of existence- oh there’s a pretty picture of a kangaroo, yep, that slogan written on it sums up my feelings, the irony and meaningless of the juxtaposition is absurd and I laughed, that’s exactly what I needed, thanks internet” click scroll scroll scroll click.

Now I look at them through more years of living amongst that kind of absurdity, I’ve seen it all slowly become absorbed in to the mainstream, and I recognise in me a sense of “well, that was interesting, but it’s all actually totally pointless now it’s not even funny” because it’s no longer relevant, no longer thought provoking, it’s swept up in to the commodified mess of internet culture and marketing meta-insides.

Lemme explain.

One of the points of the underground post-ironic creative movement that sprung up in the late 90s (and filtered through culture for the next 10 years) was that there is a sense of hope to it, despite complete awareness of nothingness, meaninglessness. World was crumbling but things were still chill. A subdued hope fluttered. What they were doing was new.

The commodified “inyourface” youth culture of the 90’s seemed so… gross, and the ironic imagery and attitude of it all doing a feedback loop through mass media made it all seem so… funny. It was a brave new world with MTV and Tom Green and all that. For ten years by that point, they were already living in a world where a woman could make art from her list of sexual partners and a man could make art by cutting a cow down the middle, but there was room for the seekers to keep going down that path, searching for the meaning that was lost in the Young British Artists, despite knowing it was gone forever thanks to them, but still, that little ray of hope for something more always glimmered because it was pretty fun to make new funnies.

I suppose the late 2000 and early 2010s brought in a slow complacency with the evolution of that just-described new world… And so post-irony exploded and quickly became the voice for so many of us filled with apathy because of all the choices available to consumers of film and television and supermarket culture; tired from so much choice, unsure because of so much choice, our ability to focus sapped from us by so much choice, but just getting on with life and jobs and relationships and parties and whatever anyway, those new funnies sure were funny… and then Tim and Eric peaked and their style of comedy was absorbed in to the mainstream, which meant that so did post-irony as a concept, it finally became commodified, and that little flame of hope just. fucking. died.

And now? Those artists from the 90’s are sellouts, and their actual sales are plummeting. Social activism and a decade of high-youth-use-of-internet culture has shifted everything to become meta-jokes. A decade of idealising the images of purity from our youth whilst also taking the piss out of them has left us tired. There’s some full on meta post-irony going on in meme culture now, weirdly shaped heads floating in empty space with misc items that betray an absolutely no-hope attitude, (wars, wars, codeine (see picture above)).

Art by young artists seems to be fucking stuck in the detritus of organic culture, drying out under the harsh blue glow of our computer screens… and I’m all like: did western art get so close to the edge that it’s just totally fallen off now? What is exciting in art right now? Where is the passion? Those things certainly ain’t on the path of western art no more.

So it has no choice but to meet up with other paths, if something can’t adapt, it dies, and I certainly don’t want to be involved with a culture lacking in oxygen because the flames of its own making have burnt everything in sight; right now cultures are mingling good and proper from the connections being made and the conversations being had instantly across vast oceans and cultural understandings that previously took years, then months, then weeks to bridge. Instant access to a whole planet and a combined history full of inspiration changes everything, again, new life is breathed in to bodies and minds made sickly by the abuse of global capitalism…

As I said before, Australia is at an interesting point. Potential fall of a socially disappointing government – a socially neglectful government – the rise of a powerful minority group, united First Nations within the borders of this colonial nation, other First Nations people from around the globe getting fucking sick of dealing with capitalist colonial governments… I can only hope that artists from all groups are preparing for this proper conversion of paths. And I wish they’d hurry up and make their work available to view online already because I would really, really like to publish them in the online magazine I’ve just started to work for, because everything else feels pretty irrelevant.