What if the “Birds Are Not Real” movement backfires? + More questions I have about the artistic news of the week
Curiosities is a column where I comment on the artistic news of the week, sometimes on stories too small or strange to be retained, sometimes just giving my opinion on the ups and downs.
Below, some questions asked by the events of the last week …
1) Are the birds real?
I was struck by Taylor Lorentz’s play in the New York Times this week on the ‘Birds Are Not Real’ movement, a QAnon-era Gen Z effort to ‘break culture’. Online and in a series of live protests, supporters have set out to promote the message that “birds are not real”, arguing that what looks like harmless avian creatures are in fact government surveillance drones.
It’s an attempt to fight the fire of social media madness with the fire of social media madness, in this case, fun stunts. Birds Aren’t Real seeks to introduce enough nonsense into the culture that people who soak up other more threatening forms of cultural nonsense begin to question what they read and are shocked by their senses.
I generally agree with artist and researcher Joshua Citarella, cited in Lorentz’s article, that the danger of such tactics is likely outweighed by the good of giving a cultural community a group mission and offering a positive outlet for inactive people on the Internet. for their creative energies. “Enabling people to engage in building a collaborative world is therapeutic because it allows them to disarm the plot and engage in a safe way,” Citarella said.
But, in order not to be a wet blanket, I think the likelihood that anti-bird ideology will reverse the trend in the absence of a larger reversal in the degradation of American institutions is zero, and the possibility that they somehow add to the chaos is, in a way, non-zero. I mean, not just some but a substantial number of the essential elements of the modern conspiracy began as attempts at information warfare by artist, Birds Aren’t Real. In some ways, this can be one of the great impacts of art on politics.
To take a concrete example, recently highlighted in Adam Curtis’ Desperate documentary, I can’t get you out of my head: The whole modern obsession with the Bavarian Illuminati began in the 1960s, as what has been called a “free-form art project – with a farce – with a political protest.”
Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill created the fake religion Discordianism as a parody of religions, which in turn spawned Operation Mindfuck, planting claims about a secret cabal controlling history in the letters section of Playboy and in the underground press, said to be so outrageous and inconsistent that it made similar false claims by association.
But instead, the idea of controlling the Illuminati has become part of the culture, spreading across the internet in a good sense of conspiracy theory.
What I’m saying is that it’s not impossible that soon a yoga cult in California will ban the pigeon and crow pose because the birds aren’t real, or “Take these birds away from the government.” my lawn ”could end up like a Republican party plank.
2) Does the aesthetics of Google intersect with the aesthetics of art?
Google dropped its annual “Year in Search” last week, which is always good for a quick peek to see how more or less out of touch you are with the Google masses.
Turns out “NBA” was the most searched public interest term in the United States. The biggest news of the year was “Mega Millions”, another that left no mark in my world. Still, Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” was the most searched song of 2021. That I get.
What caught my attention, however, is that this year, among its trends, Google includes a list of the most sought-after “aesthetics”.
This use of “aesthetics” here has less to do with Kant’s Third Critique than with a sensibility to the amorphous lifestyle emerging from fashion magazines and interior design blogs. I read in a fascinating Vox article on “historic whisperer of micro-aesthetics” Melinda Bee that naming trends has become something of a competitive sport on TikTok, as niche styles shoot out like sparks from the overheating engine. of the culture.
Here is Google’s point of view on the 2021 “Aesthetic” universe:
“Indie” seems generic to me. I guess the story here is that there’s a backlash to the so-called ‘millennial aesthetic’ that peaked immediately before the pandemic: all asserting pastels, soft corners, cute blob-like patterns and a sickening sense of empowerment (the advertising look of the Casper mattress, if you recall that landmark of art history).
Thus, the new “Indie” look is a return to low-fidelity, smeared, edgy, disaffected and cold colors. And also, it seems like a nostalgia for things that happened around 10 years ago when there was still a hipster sensibility, but now even weirder and more diverse.
I went to the NADA art fair website, where really new art hangs out, to see if there was a “New Indie” vibe at the Miami 2021 that just ended. of a painter like Polina Basrkaya do something like this?
What about Claudia Keep’s paintings at the March booth and TOPS Gallery, also at NADA, of private Brooklyn bedroom interiors? I read he said empty rooms are very ‘Indie’.
I see there has been talk of a sub-trend within the ‘Indie’ trend in 2021: ‘Indie Sleaze’. It’s kinda like the high-hipster, Dash Snow Vice-vintage look. (What do you know, there was also a Dash Snow doc this year.)
Maybe you can think of something like Aryo Toh Djojo’s painting at the Stems Gallery, which has this Vice sensitivity sometimes. In fact, at NADA he had a painting called Miami vice (2021), a palm tree framed against a sunset with the words “BANG BROS” in spider print in the center – a subtle but punchy commentary on the shadow cast by the Miami-based adult film company of the same name. .
Or in a more feminine direction, there’s Brittany Shepherd at the in lieu gallery, which explores “niche fetish communities” and whose high heel images are reminiscent of the squeaky and glamorous photorealism of Marilyn Minter.
But I don’t know, it looks a lot like the “NADA look”, NADA being the more independent fair which is not really called Independent. Anyway, I can’t wait to see what the “Dark Academia” and “Coconut Girl” art movements could look like. I’ll watch them!
3) Do you call “managing expectations”?
The Brooklyn Museum has a new COO and President this week: former Obama administration member and nonprofit professional Kimberly Panicek Trueblood. Talk to New York Times, Trueblood was mission-filled. She pledged, she said, “to make the next 200 years even more inclusive than the last 200”. I hope!
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