The greatest challenge(s) that art and culture are likely to face in 2016
In this yearly round-up of opinions on the most notable events to take place in the worlds of art, culture and architecture, we found out both what surprised people and what disappointed them. But what do these same people forecast for next year – 2016?
Milena Olova, art critic and Editor-in-Chief of The Art Newspaper Russia
Undoubtedly, it was the Charlie Hebdo tragedy which, of course, made us view artistic expression in a more responsible and serious light. The Moscow art circles were seriously shocked by the attack on the Manege sculpture exhibition in September, where vandals destroyed several pieces by Vadim Sidur, using ideological objections as an excuse. In general, there has been an aggravation of, to put it mildly, polemics between representatives of the so-called conservative values and followers of the ideas of modernism, contemporariness, development – between globalists and anti-globalists. Imagine – an innocent discussion on the subject ‘Why do we need art?’, recently held at the Hermitage, marking the 25th founding anniversary of the Art Newspaper, unexpectedly erupted into a nasty fracas. The famous television presenter Vladimir Posner, who took part in this talk show, put a question as to why the beauty of the city of St Petersburg did not influence its intolerant and aggressive residents. All hell broke loose. To prove their tolerance, all the mass media of St Petersburg tore into the 81-year-old TV presenter, stopping just short of a physical attack. So this is the main challenge of today: how do you stay tolerant in the fight for tolerance?
Andrew Miksys, photographer (Lithuania/USA)
The way art gets made and distributed seems to be changing very quickly. And trying to find new ways to connect with audiences is a huge challenge for art institutions and artists. Strategies need to be reevaluated every few months. There is a lot of uncertainty. Artists might feel some excitement that they have more opportunities to reach audiences directly without institutions. Traditional institutions might feel some dread in thinking that they are losing control. But the future is not exactly clear. The challenge is to adapt and keep pace in an environment with such rapid changes taking place.
Ieva Astahovska, art historian (Latvia)
To be able to react meaningfully to the world “out there” – behind the world of art and culture – and to give it added value. Today's increasingly uncomfortable and tense political- and social-realities create the urge to escape them and guard oneself from them, as well as the awareness that it's very hard to influence them with cultural instruments. Nevertheless, art's arsenal still has effective weapons, such as imagination, sensitivity, and visionary thinking – things that are able to influence and move people.
Daniela Arriado, Media Art Curator (Chile/Norway)
As we move into the ninth year of the financial European crisis, we're still facing a challenging financial situation for the arts; this pushes us to rethink our production models, but also the marriage between art & business, and the possibilities that lie within.
An interesting change that I see coming concerns digital art and the market surrounding it. A new movement is ahead, one of developing distribution models that will challenge the old ones. Also, new online exhibition services will challenge the conventional display model, and it will fuel the long-discussed issue of how to reach new audiences. I hope that this will be met with a collaborative spirit, which I believe is the key to success.
Eugenio Viola, Curator of Estonia's pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale
Dmitri Bulatov, curator (Russia)
In contemporary art, the main challenges are always systemic, raising questions regarding the evaluation and criteria of works of contemporary art. Philosopher Andy Pickering once said that we distinguish a work of art from other things using the same criteria that allows us to distinguish the human from the non-human. And it is exactly these very same criteria that we are having huge problems with today. The present level of scientific and technological development creates great opportunities for manipulations with the physical nature of man. The line between the biological and abiological becomes blurred; multiple identities are formed and our body assumes the properties of a drifting hybrid. Under these conditions, we see a sharp escalation in the traditional polemics about what we see and what lies behind it, about the relationship between consciousness and the world around us – because these are the questions that have always demanded cultural interpretation and artistic reflection from the artist. Therefore, I would say that the main challenge of contemporary art – and simultaneously the main condition of practicing it today – is the ability to put significant work into the search for artistic means of capturing this emerging novelty, a work equally big as the one done by science and technology, history and philosophy of art.
Valentin Dyakonov, art critic and curator (Russia)
Sensitivity, ethical principles and, at the same time, readiness to call a spade a spade.
Julijonas Urbonas, artist and designer (Lithuania)
Rethinking the very definition of hope.
Marie Laurberg, curator and head of research at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
In my view, a big challenge for anyone working in art and culture is the continuous challenge to ask the questions that are most relevant to our contemporary moment. This can be done through new art or through historic material. It might seem simple, but I do believe it is our great challenge: Posing the right questions.
Ieva Zībārte, architecture and design critic (Latvia)
Art and culture are inseparable from politics, economics, and the mood of society, which is why next year, we'll have to deal with everything that's out there right now – narcissism, hopelessness, refugees, hashtags, and surrendering to both the esoteric and pseudo-happiness.
Mārtiņš Vanags, publicist (Latvia)
Speaking very generally, I think that it is important that people realize the value that art has in itself. That is, in our widespread attempts at justifying art from the points of economics, nationalism or creativity, we shouldn't loose what has been important to European civilization for at least several centuries; namely, the aesthetics of a piece of art and artistic self-worth – things that have no need for external justification.
Kadri Uus and Andra Orn, founders of NOAR, an Estonian-based internet platform for art sales and information
A definite ongoing challenge is continually coming up with something new and intriguing in a world where it seems that everything has been already done. However, we are sure that art and culture will successfully meet this challenge. Another ongoing issue, particularly regarding our region, is making our achievements more visible and attracting interest on an international scale.
Viktor Misiano, curator and editor of the Moscow Art Magazine
On 1 September 2016, I am opening a new exhibition dedicated to ‘Love’ at the Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art. My colleague Elena Yaichnikova and I will do everything we can to make this show the greatest challenge to the contemporary art world in 2016...