Today I will do a little deviation from my reflective style on the drifts and nibble on some bits of theory. It feels important to share this with you and I think it will help to make sense of the underlying currents in my conceptual framework. One of the works in my upcoming show, reflects on postmodernist irony and nihilistic despair. The work called Volume is a large scale book consisting of handmade paper, from blended books that played a role in the processes that shaped me. I made this work when I was feeling disillusioned in the art world, finding myself being a young artist who does not fit within the set boundaries and definitions. At that moment I was talking part in a long term residency program and was kind of lost within my practice, grasping for meaning and wasn’t able to find any. As a reaction to that I chose to take a distance and try another strategy to find interact with my audience. Now, after quite some years, I am revitalising my connection, but with a very different set of emotions. I realise how unhealthy postmodernism was for me. Growing as an artist within this paradigm, without a proper understanding and meta awareness, it absorbed not only my practice but also my own self. I think one of the most difficult things for an artist is to realise that you are not your work. Art-making is a tricky endeavour, it requires full surrender and exposure, which without the ability to step back can eat you alive. That is what happened with me - postmodern deconstruction devoured me.
Postmodernism was characterised by deconstruction, irony, blending, relativism, nihilism, and the rejection of grand narratives. I got absorbed. Just like every artist I only took in what is happening in the world and channeled it into the works. To channel deconstruction, irony and nihilism is not a very healthy activity in the long run, especially, if we are in the middle of it. Imagine how the world must feel if that is the state culture is in. No surprise I felt no ground, no connection and lack of meaning. There was none to channel. I consider myself as quite a receptive artist, I am sensitive towards the environment and my work is a way to deal with whatever is unfolding in the world. There is a perceivable shift happening in the prevailing cultural paradigm. Postmodernism is destructing, deconstructing and fragmenting itself opening up possibilities for new to assemble and rise from the ashes. At this point I am drawn to the new powerful and emerging movement called metamodernism. There is a wonderful resource to dive deeper into it. The discourse surrounding metamodernism engages with the revival of sincerity, hope, romanticism, affection, and the potential for grand narratives and universal truths. It is not afraid to discern, love and feel while at the same time taking in everything that postmodernism was bringing in. Metamodernism isn’t just bringing the naïve modernist ideology, but it proposes to oscillate between aspects of both modernism and postmodernism. As a result, it manifests into rationalised naïvety and pragmatic idealism. It oscillates between sincerity and irony, deconstruction and construction, apathy and affection, attempting to attain some sort of transcendent position, as if such a thing were within our grasp. The metamodern generation understands that we can be both ironic and sincere in the same moment, that one does not necessarily contradict the other.
The ability to work with firm grand narratives but through the nebulosity and playfulness of postmodernism is very appealing. Interesting to notice that years ago, my first big project after the graduation, was made under the motto Rational Romanticism. It was about 10 years ago, meta-modernism wasn’t even part of the discourse yet. But apparently, already then, longing for it was present in me. Noticing it gives me pleasant sensations, realising that I wasn’t betraying the world and channeling whatever it wanted to signal through me.