The exhibition of the National Museum of Contemporary Art for the decade of the 70ies and the historical falsifications (ANTI, 21/4/20006)

Mihalis Papadakis, sculptor
President of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece
Member of the B.D. of the EMST 
ΑΝΤΙ magazine, 21 April 2006
Many remarkable artists take part in the exhibition.
What I will judge here is the distortion of the elements comprising the “form of objective record”, as the “theoretical group” (of the exhibition) names its conception, under the high supervision of Mrs director of the EMST.
The biggest achievement of the conception of the “theoretical group” is the disappearance of Sculpture.
The aesthetic “theory” of the “group”
Looking for the creation of a “bridging” between the seventies and its today’s conceptions it does not hesitate to “interpret” all the art works in one word as “aspects of the critical reappraisal of the role of art” of which the main characteristic is “assigning of primacy to the idea over the aesthetic object”.
With this consideration, though, the “theoretical group” places art outside the procedure of knowledge and transforms it to a simple illustration, not of the idea, but of an idea (as a representation, application). This is from where its affection towards applied arts originates.
On the contrary, art is a prerequisite for the development of idea. Inside art idea obtains a consciousness of itself (infinity). Or else, idea starts to think of itself inside art. Separate expressions of art, which refer to representations of particular ideas, such as the Representation, the Symbol, the Writing (finite) comprise part of the art and of the idea.
Specialized applications (applied arts) of the Representation, of the Symbol and of the Writing necessarily follow the prerequisites that the applications of science set, which refer to technology. Technology defines the substance of these images, and for this reason only, these cannot contribute to the development of the idea, neither to the level of art, nor to the level of science. What the “theoretical group” does, by praising the “assigning of primacy to the idea over the aesthetic object” is to praise applied arts.  
The function of art as a part of the process of knowledge can be realized only, if art handles the Aesthetic, or else, the Aesthetic Standard, as a criterion of the Truth, its own truth.  
This happens always both in a macroscopical (historical) and in a microscopical (individual) scale.
It is an irony (?) during the period that science consciously recognizes the role of art, the leading role that the aesthetic criterion plays on research, a “group of theoreticals” to be trying to incriminate it.
This is the point of view of the extreme subjective idealism.
The subjective idealism constructs the historical facts that confirm it.
The “theoretical group” presents the seventies as the “years that followed the big “venting” of May ‘68”.  It lived, that is to say, under the sound of the sixties and finally it was a “decade that sealed the dominant position of New York as a metropolis”.
Wishful thinking instead of history.
Can anyone believe that a voluminous catalogue with tens of texts in its social references doesn’t refer at all to the defeat of the United States of America in Vietnam in 1975?
Not to mention the victory of the Arabs in 1973 that sunk mainly Europe to a slip with the quadruplication of the price of petroleum and disorganized the southeast wing of NATO and routed the facts of 1974 in Cyprus and in Greece.
Exactly during this period, the “theoretical group” sees in our country the appearance of the “consuming society”!!
Not to mention, finally, the dismissal of the shah and of the USA by Iran in 1979. These are only the most outstanding facts, which kept the citizens in high rates of politicization not only in Greece of course.
As much as the “theoretical group” tries to impoverish the seventies as far as historical facts are concerned, this much it indicates its own theoretical poverty.  
Moreover, in 1971 (on August 15) we had the birth certificate of globalization. On that day Nixon announced that from then on the agreements of 1944 for the parity of the reserve dollar with gold would cease to stand.
This way, the USA enforced the other countries to fund their deficiency and their role as an international ranger. This new situation in international financial relations, though, started to become apprehensible much later, at the end of the eighties, when the international “disintegration” that we still live in our days started. And of course, part of the international “intellect”, the most projected in the wide public, attributes belatedly globalization to the rapid development of digitalized information, hiding its true nature.
Until the mid-eighties the political radicalism of the seventies continued to dominate. The effort to “seal the dominant position of New York as a metropolis” in art was not yet flourishing. The theoretical fabrication of Postmodernism, which was initiated around the mid seventies in America, never acquired a clear morphological dialect in fine arts, leaving its “theory” unprotected as an ideological neo-conservatism created at an ideological, clearly, level. Postmodernism in Greece tried to create grounds in the second half of the eighties, when in America it was already abandoned and the “art of CNN” was initiated, the media art (video, photography), or else the art of mass culture or else of applied arts. We, of course, “discovered America” in this section, in the mid nineties, and this not because of a lack of information, but because of  the artists’ and the public’s resistance, something similar with what is going on in Paris until today.  
The ideological retail of the “theoretical group”
It says on the catalogue of the EMST: “we have now entered a new stage in the development of modern culture (the globalization of the economy and world markets) which, unlike the industrial age, does not foment revolutions of social or aesthetic nature for the simple reason (…) it does not need to”.  
Is there a better formulation than that to describe the American-inspired central European ideological provincialism?
And because our society and art does not “need” “revolutions of social or aesthetic nature” let’s talk about applied arts.
It says on the catalogue of the EMST: “Boyce was the last representative of a long romantic tradition, which perpetuated the myth of the artist as social Messiah and a spiritual guide”.
In 1996 the American Johanna Drucker was writing (cat. “Art at the end of the 20th century” Nat. Gal.): “the crisis of consciousness and power that  artists experienced during the Vietnam war showed once and for all the impotence of abstract formal language as a force for social change. (…)It becomes impossible to imagine that any visual form (…) will bring about any kind of social change –let alone a long dreamed of modern Utopia”.
What does the echo of the points of view of Drucker mean in the catalogue of the EMST?
Following “directions” or ideological parasitism?
Even though many art works of the exhibition “show resistance” to the effort of the “theoretical group” to launch applied arts (especially media applications) against Fine Arts, they do not manage to reverse the fake historicity in which it places them.
The illusionist disappearance of Sculpture
The total absence of Sculpture and of a whole generation of sculptors is the most obvious element of fake historicity.
Let us remind that in 1975 the Pan-Hellenic Exhibition was devoted to the sculptor Gerasimos Sklavos. Sklavos, until his tragic death at the age of 40 in 1967, was considered the biggest living sculptor in the world, together with Giacometti. And although in the exhibition of 1970 art works from ’63, ’65, ’66 and ’68 are presented, the art works of those that took part in the post-war development of Sculpture (like Sklavos) are totally absent, although many of those had an international presence in the seventies. One of the two gates of fine arts, Sculpture, disappears and gets substituted by “three-dimension art” (as Mrs. Director somewhere else names the field of non-Painting and non-media arts), the three-dimensioned constructions that “assign primacy to the idea over the aesthetic object”.
When the theory of the “theoretical group” is not based on the facts of fine art and historical being, from where it extracts its validations and its conclusions with the tools of scientific thought, I reserve the right to imagine that its theory is based on non-fine art interests. One should be based on something, so that he can play a role in fine arts, or else he is not taken seriously by anyone. And the basic powers, which are conflicted on the fine art field, are two: a) the fine art being in its historical self-propulsion, and b) the financial interests that try to manipulate it for personal profit.  The positions between, and unfortunately this involves the majority of young, especially, artists, are a clear illusion, which disproves the social nature of fine art creation that they serve.
From the hatred displayed by this exhibition towards Fine Arts, the historical distortion shown by some texts that the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece is a national construction against the will of the artists couldn’t be absent.
Question: The EMST is a national institution with scientific validity or a private space where Mrs. Director can freely manipulate the history of art with the use of public money?
Mihalis Papadakis

Mihalis Papadakis

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