The day before he presented this year’s coverage of the Turner Prize on television, the journalist Morgan Quaintance had a piece published in the Guardian about the shortlisted artists. In it, he wondered why there was so little concern in their work for politics. He was criticising the Turner selectors, rather than the artists.
While sympathising with Morgan’s point of view, I have to admit, however, that I’ve seen some pretty terrible politically-inclined contemporary art in recent times. But perhaps you still can’t blame the artists. Even the most well-intentioned amongst us must have difficulty working out how to address the sheer craziness of the times we live in.
This year has been characterised by widespread talk of a “post-truth” culture, created in part by the words and deeds of irresponsible, opportunist politicans and their supportive media outlets. Perhaps “post-truth” really means “anti truth”- but by the time anyone has time to check, the news narrative will have moved on.
“Post truth” isn’t a new fad. The tendency, or tactic, whichever way you want to look at it, has been around for a very long time. It finds strength during times of economic and social uncertainty and instability. And many people are being victimised by it. My provocation focuses on one of those people, because, oddly enough, for people like Nena, some important truths get disengaged, and locked away, only to explode back into the mind unpredictably. What can we learn from the traumatised?
Please excuse the gap in the video, we had technical issues!