Lyotard, Jean Francois · Defining the Postmodern

What is postmodernism? According to Lyotard, postmodernity is about reflecting on modernity and analyzing what has already taken place. Progress is not always linear, and without analyzing the past (the modern) we will either make the same mistakes again or rehash what has already been made, as seen in bricolage. That is, the combination of different elements from different time periods without regard to the environment. Just whatever is on hand. Lyotard also waxes on progress for a bit, proclaiming that progress isn’t always good, is not always profitable, and not always about complexity.

Berdnaut Smilde’s Nimbus (2012) series is a great example of postmodern art. Lasting only for about 10 seconds, his man-made clouds are simple and take into account the spaces they inhabit. He documents them by taking their photograph.

I was able to see and experience Christian Boltanski’s Archives du Coeur (2008) when my sister and I traveled Japan last summer. Sometimes you have to immerse yourself in the art or see it for yourself in order to truly understand it before dismissing it as pretentious. Hearing the heartbeats in a womb-like room with a synchronized flashing light is a beautiful experience that made me thinking about the cyclical nature of life and death. And of course my sister just thought it was ok lol.

After visiting for the Gathering of Nations last April, I fell in love with New Mexico. I wish I could have experienced Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977), though, another work of art dealing with time, the elements, and how art can be so much more than a painting on a gallery wall. This is the type of art that excites me.

Paul McCarthy. Tree, 2014

I used to dislike Paul McCarthy but now I love his work. I especially love that butt plug sales skyrocketed after his Tree was inflated!

Probably my most favorite piece of postmodern art is a prank by two teenagers who left their glasses on the floor at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.