## Monday, December 1, 2008

### woman, man 6: postpostmodernism & spirituality

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman ii (2008, polystyrene on wood)

so let's connect the two running themes (postpostmodernism & man-woman spirituality) for a moment, returning once again to dutch visual artist ralf kwaaknijd. kwaaknijd obviously kicks against the ruling postmodern art structures with this work, which is so small that one must squat to see it properly. (an ironic reference to the in kwaaknijds eyes unpalatable and unimaginative postmodern sculptures which borrow their legitimization purely from their absurdly large size). yet this irony could be construed as postmodern, were it not for the fact that kwaaknijd also carefully chooses his subject, materials and sculptural form. man and woman here are engaged in an abstract entanglement which can be viewed both as dance and as struggle, as embrace and as fight, as opposing and together. made from the same materials and forms, man and woman are -somewhat fiercely perhaps- completely equal, thus shattering any romantic' but discriminatory notions one sees so often in prepostmodern art. but what about sex?

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman i (2008, polystyrene on wood)

in the same man woman series, kwaaknijd comments on the -in his view absurd- role of sex in postmodern art. since postmodernism cuts away meaning' and sense' and even morality', what is left in terms of human motivation? often sex is the answer. largely of course because sex still has some power to shock the general public, making an artist who uses explicit sex somewhat of a controversial figure, which is 3/4 of the thrust of the postmodern establishment. shallow for those who see through this marketing technique, but then again that is a seldom heard minority.

but also because in the absence of any higher' or spiritual' values, people really start defining their realization' in terms of sex.

kwaaknijd's sculpture above tackles these issues rather blatantly, in the familiar abstract sense. looking closely one sees an abstract representation of male and female genitals, engaged in sex. yet once again, male and female parts are made of the same materials and sculptural forms, closely resembling their parallel embryonal genesis (for those of you with a working knowledge of embryology). the reduction of man woman' to their genitals is both scornful and yet, in its simplicity also defusing. sex is simple, from nature's abstract point of view. there are no higher values in sex, unless we add other values...and for this we need some form of spirituality - a simpler conclusion is: we need some form of spirituality (which is a decidedly unpostmodern view).

kwaaknijd however still uses postmodernist techniques, he exaggerates them, distorts them, but he is still a child of his times. this to me suggests the term postpostmodernism. and i wait impatiently for a truly different ism to shoot up. come, daring fellow artists, whither shall we go?