Disjecta will close its doors November 4, but its final visual art show takes it to the grave with a shout, not a whimper. Portland artist/photographer Liz Haley and New York photographer John Vitale teamed up to create ÉBecause Cynicism Left Yesterday, a collection of photography, painting and video work by artists on the Eastern seaboard, as well as locals Theo Angell and Chris Johanson. It is a subtly cohesive collection that includes some prominent artists.
I met up with one half of the curatorial team, Haley, to discuss contemporary art and make up new critical catch-phases like "post-cynicism."
What led you and John Vitale to get together and create this show?
John and I met in New York last February. We had mutual friends, we both did large-scale conceptual photography and we had similar ideas about the art world and culture around us. This show was a chance for us to explore what we had in common and create a visual exploration of our mutual curiosity by bringing together artists from both coasts and various mediums. The title of the show implies an absence of cynicism, which led me to anticipate work that was optimistic or projecting some kind of positive outlook. But this isn't really the case.
How does the title reflect the show's theme?
When we started devising the show we talked about themes in contemporary art and so many of them involved irony, one-liners, and anti-art feelings. We wondered if the only way for our generation to be authentic was through cynicism and irony--sort of sincere irony. We wanted to challenge that. So we ended up trying to explore the cynical elements that are so pervasive in our society, and bringing in work that critically responds to them.
So it's less about optimism and more about a kind of post-cynicism (whatever that means)?
Right. What is it we hold onto in cynicism and what are the traits and qualities of an art that goes beyond that? It's not optimism; it's responding to cynicism, analyzing it, trying to engage in critical dialog. Yeah, what is post-cynicism?