Black Bucket Essays
Volume 1, Issue 4
What if there is no next new thing? Do we sit around and mourn the fact that we've seen it before? There's a way to look at creativity that doesn't necessarily have to do with creating something we've never seen before. It can be about reinterpreting or misinterpreting the world that's already around us.
- LAURA HOPTMAN
Michael Dax Iacovone
First, just to get this out of the way; there will be a next new thing. There always has been, and it would be with great hubris to assume that our current “thing” is that last. Worrying that there might not be a new thing, or even suggesting the possibility, will hasten its arrival. Questioning if it will exist, and when it will arrive, leads people exactly to the perfunctory mode of reinterpreting and/or intentional misinterpretation. Which is fine. It’s even good in a lot of ways because it highlights and focuses on the lack of innovation.
Second, when people start looking around and noticing that they’ve seen this all before, it becomes a powerful impetus to motivate a monumental change. People will exam what the current mode is, and they will see the shortcomings. They will notice the pieces that don’t fit into the current context. And to the credit of Bertolt Brecht, the change will have to be big, because incremental change is an exercise in pragmatism, and small changes is worse than no change because it falsely indicated the illusion of growth.
Third, there is nothing wrong with revisiting, reinterpreting or intentionally misinterpreting a movement as long as it’s done with eyes open. As long as it’s not under the guise of innovation. As long as nobody writes something that is supposed to sound smart, but instead, insults the intelligence of anybody who has the misfortune of reading a press release or review of a show that says something like “____ _____ reinvents painting on canvas”, or something equally dumb and lazy.
I don’t think Laura Hoptman really thinks that there will not be a next, new thing. I think her point is to not dwell on it, and see what happens organically. Which is fine, and that may even be good advice for artists. I think it’s best to let your own questions be the driving force and if that lands in charted waters, you’ll have plenty of company. And if it doesn’t….. you might be alone for a while. But we’ll catch up.