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Marina Abramovic: “Instagram is not art. Social media is not art. These kids are not artists. I’m sorry, but they’re not.”

Discussion  12 comments

Carleton A

I've got tremendous respect for Abramovic, and I am more skeptical of social media every year, but that sounds like a classic example of an older generation failing to understand/appereciate a younger generation.

Carleton A

"appreciate", that is

MacRae Linton

Yeah agreed. "It's only art if it's in a gallery" is a weird take. I definitely get that most of the time I'm not bringing my full attention to stuff on TikTok the way I might a painting in a gallery but the idea that it's not a genuine communication seems baffling. Reminds me exactly of Roger Ebert saying video games aren't art.

Logan Sholar

I realized when reading the interview that for some reason I have this expectation that EVERY statement or opinion someone famous like this shares should be true. Like the standard for legitimacy in their statements is much higher for some reason. The truth is more likely that she's spot on about some things and talking out of her butt about other things just like the rest of us, but her being in the spotlight means it's all scrutinized to the same degree. I don't know why I would expect her to be an expert on art created in the context of social media just because she's done several highly regarded performance art pieces over the years, but initially that's how I was reading the interview. She definitely has a better perspective than me to provide an opinion on it, but, respectfully, I wouldn't consider her an expert and take her thoughts as the end all (even though, apparently, my brain really wants to!)

Logan Sholar

Also meant to add that Fred Armisen's and Bill Hader's show on Netflix "Documentary Now!" does a mockumentary of Marina. It's pretty good if you're into that kind of thing.

Andy Baio

"It’s not in the context of art. Everything you have to see in context. If the guy is making breakfast and we are all looking at his breakfast, I don’t give a [expletive]. It’s not in the context of art. If you make the same thing in the gallery, it is in the context of art. Context makes all the difference."

It seems like her perception of what happens on social media came from Twitter circa 2007. Obviously, most people aren't using social media to make art — they're using it to communicate, make friends, self-promote, etc — but it's either ignorance or gatekeeping to say that if it happens on Instagram (or YouTube, TikTok, etc), it's not art. There are countless artists on each of these platforms, some showcasing their work and some making work natively for the platform, and the people viewing it certainly recognize the context that it's art.

The platform affects how it's seen, shared, and monetized, but it doesn't preclude it from being art simply because it's not dedicated solely to that purpose, like an art gallery.

Andy Baio

Also, I'm having trouble reconciling her statements here with her interview with ArtNews last year declaring that Web3 was "undoubtedly the future" on the occasion of her first NFT drop, which she referred to repeatedly as a "performance."

James Risley

like any good creator, she's great at creating conversation around herself! context does make a difference, but art is not art because of context.

Sacha Greif

I'm pretty sure every single form of art has been declared "not art" at some point or another.

Tim Calvin

I mean, there are still people salty about photography being included in the art world, so...

Jeffrey Shrader

I found it interesting to compare the statement from Abramovic with a passage from the Ben Davis' article that Kottke linked a few days ago:

That brings me to the second point, which is where the case of Devon Rodriguez is specifically interesting. Basically, I’m arguing that we should think of his social media posts as part of his practice, to be reviewed in and of themselves.

Like Davis, I find the "performance" aspect of Devon Rodriguez's work to be the most compelling part. I was surprised to see Abramovic dismiss social media performance so readily.

Luke Davis

I grow tired of people defining what art is or isn't in this kind of way. I'd rather just look at it, draw my own conclusions, and enjoy it or keep it moving.

This thread is closed for new comments & replies. Thanks to everyone for participating!