Why is contemporary art so scary?
Jessica: That’s something we think about a lot. I think people feel nervous about asking questions and seeming stupid, when actually I think for virtually any artist working today provoking questions is exactly what they’re aiming for.
Kyung: I think it has a lot to do with the fact that there is a disconnect between what the art world says contemporary art is and people’s actual experiences of it. It’s on us as arts professionals to narrow the gap.
‘A five-year-old could have done that!’: what’s your killer comeback?
J: But they didn’t.
K: Child, please!
A century or so ago, if I’d wanted to be an artist I would have moved to Paris and spent a lot of time in cafes with like-minded people. Is becoming an artist harder today than it was then?
J: These days you still have to move to a centre and hang out with like-minded people. Except it’s no longer Paris, there are many centres. I don’t think it’s ever been easy to be an artist, and now is no different.
K: I don’t think it’s harder now, as I don’t think it was easier back then. Obviously our current global condition means that the world is much smaller, meaning artists can connect with like-minded thinkers and creators in many different physical places all over the world, but also through the internet.
Is contemporary art all about money?
J: The art world is about money insofar as life is about money. It’s important but it’s not everything.
K: Money is just a part of the story, like everything else in life.
So give me an example of a piece of contemporary art that has really ‘made a difference’.
K: In 2011, for instance, Tania Bruguera started a project called ‘Immigrant Movement International’ in Corona, Queens, an immigrant-rich neighbourhood in New York. It involved the creation of an open community space that helped immigrants and raised awareness of their struggles by providing English classes, art workshops, legal advice and some healthcare.