color Beyond Kandinsky: A response to Session I questions


The year 2011 marks the centennial of the publication of Wassily Kandinsky's classic text, On the Spiritual in Art. Inspired by this anniversary, this project set out to explore the place of the spiritual in contemporary art and to propose a challenge to the current devaluation of the inner life that prevails within the art world in our market-driven era.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, a ten-day virtual symposium moderated by Taney Roniger and Eric Zechman was held in this forum. The symposium closed on the evening of Friday, April 8th. Below is the full record of the proceedings.

Panelists invited to participate were: Suzanne Anker, Laura Battle, Connie Beckley, Anney Bonney, Deirdre Boyle, Nathaniel Dorsky, Jeff Edwards, James Elkins, Max Gimblett, Tom Huhn, Atta Kim, Roger Lipsey, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Nechvatal, Daniel Siedell, Charlene Spretnak, David Levi Strauss, Alan Wanzenberg, and Pawel Wojtasik. For participant biographies and other project details, please visit our site: www.beyondkandinsky.net.


SYMPOSIUM SCHEDULE

March 30th–April 1st: Session I: The Spiritual Then and Now

April 2nd–April 3rd: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

April 4th-5th: Session III: Art and Its Audience

April 6th–April 7th: Session IV: The Artist in Society

April 8th: Conclusions


CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD COMPLETE SYMPOSIUM TRANSCRIPT

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A response to Session I questions

(1) How have our ideas about the spiritual changed with the dissolution of the Modernist dream, in which Kandinsky's vision was so deeply embedded?

What dissolution?! The Modernist dream has deepened and magnified.

(2) How has the notion of transcendence changed? Is transcendence still viable in a largely secular, postmodern culture?

Yes. We know much more about the world's cultures. For instance: the phenomenal growth of American Buddhism; our understanding and study of Indian Gurus; and the emergence of current Indian Art.

(3) What might account for the deep suspicion -- or indeed denial -- of the spiritual shared by many artists and intellectuals in our culture?

Postmodernism, cynicism, parody, materialism, suicide. These nihilistic tendencies choose academic study and ritual in an effort subvert our collective spiritual connectivity. Spirituality is perception and clear perception delivers the truth. Krishnamurti delivers the truth. My primary school model was "seek after truth."

(4) How have attitudes toward nature, the material world, and the body changed since Kandinsky?

As art history moves forward artists have branched off into ever more specialized investigations into all things. New and old ideas are explored and enriched. Beauty is found and lost.

(5) In what ways has the rise of digital technology impacted our ideas about the spiritual? Does it present a new vision of transcendence or salvation?

The rise of technology has furthered the methods by which we can explore the spiritual. New dimensions are opened up and new ideas for us to play with. The vision remains the same: truth. Everything else changes around it.

(6) Are the Enlightenment principles championed by Modernity (i.e., rationalism, positivism, materialism, etc.) being superseded by a new, more spiritually-inclined worldview—or is the spiritual being rendered obsolete by a wholly new orientation?

"The spiritual" as a concept is incredibly broad and open. It cannot be rendered obsolete as it is in all things in some language or form in every culture on the Earth.

(7) Does science have a role to play in exploring new approaches to or understandings of the spiritual?

Yes, science has a role to play as does alchemy, in understanding aspects of the transcendent.

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