Our Desk | The Dead Artists Society – Part 1

Renato Marques

Recently, a new artist-led movement has emerged, taking (mostly) social media platforms by storm.
Under the motto ‘Support living artists, the dead ones don’t need it,’ the movement tries to present new forms of seeing, appreciating and acquiring art pieces from several sources as a daily economic activity, that should not only be accessible to everybody, but should ultimately be an everyday procedure for all buyers.
Such an approach not only steers away from the conventional idea that art pieces must be old and from long-deceased artists to be valuable, and somehow seems to have found inspiration from more recent sources such as the anonymous England-based artist known as Banksy, a self-proclaimed street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director.
The movement is not only calling for the sustainability of artistic forms and their creators, they are also aiming beyond this, trying to break the boundaries of the mentality that an art piece must be something “eternal” or a “long-lasting” item worth keeping above all else.
Instead, they propose a completely different approach, a more dynamic one (if I can say so), in which art pieces can, and should be, more ephemeral and subject to be changed, replaced and renewed.
This perspective is particularly interesting for me, as in addition to noticing those items as beautifully “decorative,” I get easily bored looking at a certain painting, photograph, statue, or even listening to music for long periods.
What I perceive is that this new art movement is trying to find a more “music-like” approach, applicable to all other art forms in which the purpose of art is to be enjoyable, changeable.
According to world-famous Portuguese street artist Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils, the idea of volatility and ephemerality is the exact basis for all his street works regardless of the medium, be it graffiti, a carved mural work or, most recently, the wall carving-method which makes use of explosives.
Questioned during an interview on the topic of the possibility of his street art being subjected to a fast abrasion and even partial or total destruction, Vhils said, “That’s exactly the purpose. Art is (or should be) ephemeral, like life itself,” noting that art appreciation is something done in “the moment” and to produce effects and transmit sensations within a certain period.
I guess artists are ready to assume this new role of creating ephemeral works, such as sculpting from ice instead of a stone or copper, but are we ready for that? Are we ready to effect that change? How often do we replace the pictures hanging in our houses, office places, or commercial establishments? How often do we buy a new item to replace an old one?
How will this new mindset affect our workplaces? Does this new trend have a way to replace the old mindset of collecting (useless) little treasures? Or it is just an appeal to consumerism?
Maybe it is a little bit of both, but the fact is there are people out there trying to change the way we see art, and one such group in particular has been growing and gathering support.
I like changing, although this does not mean throwing away old things to replace them with new ones. To me, change often comes by rearranging, recombining, or changing the same old things, giving the places they inhabit a new and refreshed look.
Maybe this idea of “refreshing” spaces can be used for other purposes, and instead of breaking everything down and building new things from scratch, we can revamp, revitalize and give new purpose to those old things, too.

Categories Opinion