FAME, APPROPRIATION & METAMODERNISM
How to oscillate between characters and make the audience react
“Last year, during the organisation of the CSM Interim Show at the Bargehouse (London), I had quite an unusual experience. I was late, and the bus just stopped at South Bank / Waterloo Bridge. On my way to the Bargehouse, I had to pass next to the London Television Centre’s parking lot. While I was walking through, I heard a voice calling: “Pete! Hoy Pete!” Before I could have the time to understand what was going on, a bunch of paparazzis surrounded me. They were calling me Peter. I understood then that they thought I was Peter Doherty, probably because of my clothes and my big hat. I just stopped myself in order to take a picture of them, covered my face with my hat and ran away. This was the first of a long series of hide and seeks experiences with paparazzis. It was such a powerful experience; this circle of photographers around me. The funniest thing in this adventure I had is that, once the paparazzis understood I wasn’t their prey and left me alone, people passing started taking pictures of me, probably convinced that I might be someone famous. This story always makes me think about what Andy Warhol said in his exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, in 1986: “In the future, everyone will be worldfamous for fifteen minutes” (Guinn and Perry, 2005, p.4).
Benjamin HeinzDieter Buchloh analyses that the aesthetic of Warhol corresponds to a faith in the “hierarchy of subjects worthy to be represented will someday be abolished”, so everybody, and consequently “anybody”, can be worldknown once this hierarchy disappears, “in the future”, in consequence, “in the future, everybody will be famous”, and not exclusively the individuals deserving fame (Warhol, Michelson and Buchloh, 2001, p.28). However, our society has led to a little new and different meaning, perceiving the ephemerality of fame and more recently, the proximity and democratization of it through the Internet (Levy, 2008). Warhol’s prediction has been related to the present, modified in a way that nowadays, thanks to the new medias, anyone can become a celebrity for a short amount of time.
The question we can ask ourselves is what is going to happen next? Even if Generation Y is well known for their penchant for nostalgia (Taylor, 2014), we shouldn’t forget to look up to the future, as Banksy did with his sculpture In The Future Everyone Will Be Anonymous For Fifteen Minutes (Banksy, 2006).
Therefore, through all these facts, I ask myself why is the public so obsessed with celebrity, and mostly, how does celebrity keeps its aura of fascination in each new generation?
My research will investigate the contemporary role of the celebrity and their accessibility through new medias. I will explore the possibility of becoming famous in our generation, impersonating a character, and using new medias in order to reach the audience’s attention. In other words, I will try to figure out if someone can become famous just by pretending to be famous.
Applying, the Reality Principle which in Freudian psychoanalysis, is the ability to judge the reality of the world, and to act upon it appropriately (Freud, Strachey and Richards, 1984, p.36). I allow my persona to postpone instant gratification, allowing reason to overcome passion, rationalization to overcome emotion (Goleman, 1995, pp.89). I create a persona that will meet the expectations of the public. The reality principle, as opposed to acting on the pleasure principle, pursues the satisfaction of the Ego in rational ways, which will profit me in the long term (Noam et al. 1984, p.189). Freud admits that as “the Ego attempts to meditate between id and reality, it is often obliged to cloak the Unconscious commands of the id with its own preconscious rationalizations, to conceal the id’s conflicts with reality, to profess... to be taking notice of reality even when the id has remained rigid and unyielding” (Freud and Strachey, 1965, p.110).
Famous for being famous, in Pop Culture, refers to someone who reaches celebrity status without any particular reason, or who achieves fame through association with a celebrity (Jenkins and Jenkins, 1992, p.178). The term is pejorative, suggesting that the individual has no particular talents or abilities (Jones, 2008, p.20). In order to avoid that, and to adopt the principle of nonhierarchical representation as Warhol predicted in my earlier quotation, I develop different disciplines in order to redefine problems outside of the traditional conventions of representation and reach questions based on a new understanding of contemporary complex situations. Basically, multidisciplinary work is simply a fundamental expression of being guided by Holism (Smuts, 1926). Holism is the conception that all natural systems and their characteristics should be viewed as wholes. It often involves that how systems function can’t be fully understood individually in terms of their component parts (Oshry, 2007). Julie Thompson Klein attests that “the roots of the concepts lie in a number of ideas that resonate through modern discourse – the ideas of a unified science, general knowledge, synthesis and the integration of knowledge” (Klein, 1990).
I use this interdisciplinarity to imprint my generation, allowing it to recognize itself in my work.
William Strauss and Neil Howe are convinced that each generation has common characteristics that give it a specific character, with four basic generational models, repeating in a cycle. According to their theory, they anticipate that Generation Y will follow the same patterns as the CivicMinded Generation (Howe and Strauss, 2000, p.137). This involves that we have a strong sense of community both local and global. On another hand, Jean Twenge attributes Generation Y with the characteristics of tolerance and confidence, but also a strong sense of narcissism and entitlement, questioning the prediction of Howe and Strauss about this generation (Twenge, 2006). Turner’s Metamodernism Manifesto affirms that “today, we are nostalgists as much as we are futurists. The new technology enables the simultaneous experience and enactment of events from a multiplicity of positions” (Turner, 2015). This narcissism is probably accentuated by the invention and our compulsive use of social medias, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc... That makes us wonder more about the number of “followers” or “likes” we have rather than the subject and the quality of the post we and/or the others share. Is there a way to “liberate ourselves from the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child” (Turner, 2015)? Maybe Metamodernism is the answer.
My whole avatar and work is a research about our cultural society. Impersonations role that will represent and touch my generation directly in its heart, by oscillating and being as paradoxical as possible and make them think about the world we live in. Every single action I take is part of a bigger performance, which takes part in the analysis of contemporary values and morals. Can we decide who we want to be? Can we decide who we are? How to fulfil this need of affection and compulsive narcissism? Can we become famous for more than 15 minutes? Can we find our inner self by impersonating a character? I have asked a lot of cultural questions that will – perhaps – be answered by my whole research.
The term “Famous for Being Famous” origin comes from a study of the mediaruled world wrote in 1961 by social theorist and historian Daniel Joseph Boorstin called The image: A guide to pseudo events in America (Richards, 2005, p.259). Boorstin described the celebrity as “a person who is known for his wellknowness” (Boorstin, 1962). Throughout the years the quote has been modified as: “a celebrity is someone who is famous for being famous” (Richards, 2005).
The person who may have been the first to use the modern formulation of the phrase is the British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge in the preface of his book Muggeridge Through The Microphone. In it he stated: “In the past if someone was famous or notorious it was something – as a writer or an actor or a criminal; for some talent or distinction or abomination. Today one is famous for being famous. People who come up to one in the street or in public places to claim recognition nearly always say: “I’ve seen you on the telly!”” (Muggeridge and Ralling, 1967).
“Celebutante” is a word that appeared in a Walter Winchell text. He used the word in his society column OnBroadway to portray Brenda Frazier, who was a traditional “High Society” debutante, but whose first steps attracted an unusual media interest and concern (Winchell, 1939). In a Newsweek article about New York City’s famous jetset, the word was used again to talk about Lisa Edelstein, James St. James, and even the Andy Warhol’s “Queen of the night” Diane Brill (Zimmer, 2007).
The term is now frequently used to define celebrities such as Nicole Richie or Paris Hilton in tabloids and other entertainment journalism (Zimmer, 2007).
Another slightly different word has been formulated by writer Amy Argetsinger in the Washington Post to describe celebrities such as athletes, singers, models or actors whose fame is entirely (or mostly) a consequence of their physical or attitude’s attractiveness, rather than an actual successful career or talent; “Famesque”. “The famesque of 2009 are descended from that dawnofTV creation, the Famous for Being Famous. Turn on a talk show or Hollywood Squares and there’d be Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Charles Nelson Reilly, so friendly and familiar and – what was it they did again?” (Argetsinger, 2009) argued Argetsinger.
Another example used by Argetsinger as a modernday demonstration is the actress Sienna Miller: “Miller became famesque by dating Jude Law... and then really famesque when he cheated on her with the nanny – to the point that she was the one who made Balthazar Getty famesque (in spite of its hit TV series Brothers & Sisters) when he reportedly ran off from his wife with her for a while” (Argetsinger, 2009).
Does the rank of being famous for being famous demeans the work of people who reached fame due to hard labour and talent? This is the opinion of some famous actors such as Daniel Craig or Jason Statham (Bull, 2012).
More recently, Neal Gabler clarified the meaning of celebrity to differentiate those of them who have reached recognition for not having done anything significant – a phenomenon he labelled the “Zsa Zsa Factor”. Indeed, Zsa Zsa Gabor transformed her wedding to actor George Sanders into a short acting career and the acting career into a far more permanent fame (Gabler, 2013).
This is the case, more recently, of Kendall Jenner, who first became known by the public for appearing in reality TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Since then, Kim Kardashian’s halfsister has proved to the audience that she deserves a place alongside the elites. While Kim Kardashian became famesque, by doing a sex tape (Extra, 2007), marrying Kanye West on live TV (Pocklington, Shenton and Wilson, 2014), and making her backside one of the most popular subjects in 2014 with the help of famous photographer JeanPaul Goude (Fortini, 2014), Kendall Jenner has choosen another strategy and is now part of a wave of social media models in fashion, along with Cara Delevigne, Suki Waterhouse, Baldwin’s sisters and Hadid’s sisters (Rutherford, 2015). She had breakout in 2014, modelling on the catwalks for high fashion designers during the Paris, Milan and New York Fashion Weeks, coauthored the novel Rebels: City of Indra with her sister, Kaylie Jenner, and ghostwriter Maya Sloan (White, 2014), and has recently been elected number one in the Dazed Top 100 (Sandberg, 2014).
Kendall Jenner has now four times as many Instagram followers as Barack Obama, and is used to break the Internet (Sandberg, 2014). She is probably the most contemporary example of the Zsa Zsa Factor.
Actor, writer, producer, director, teacher (and more recently artist) James Franco is another celebrity that has played with social medias such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Franco, besides his acting career, has consciously garnered a reputation for publishing “Selfies” (SelfShot photos of oneself, alone or wth others) and wrote an analytical article for the New York Times in December 2013. James Franco wrote: “...but a wellstocked collection of selfies seems to get attention. And attention seems to be the name of the game when it comes to social networking. In this age of too much information at a click of a button, the power to attract viewers amid the sea of things to read and watch is power indeed. It’s what the movie studios want of their products, it’s what professional writers want for their work, it’s what newspapers want – hell, it’s what everyone wants: attention. Attention is power.” (Franco, 2013)
In 2013, Franco used its star power to present his first exhibition at Pace Gallery in London. The exhibition called Psycho Nacirema has been curated by Turner Prizewinning artist Douglas Gordon and was based on Hitchcock’s Psycho (Barnes, 2013). In this exhibition he impersonates Hitchcock’s most famous characters.
The 11th of April 2014 he confirmed his implication as an artist, opening his second solo exhibition entitled New Film Stills in tribute to Cindy Sherman (Deruisseau, 2014). In this art show he parodied Cindy Sherman’s photographs by reconstituting them, using himself as model. Is it imitation, appropriation or an analysis of Sherman’s work?
In 1985, Robert Colescotte appropriated Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso, renaming it Les Demoiselles d’Alabama. He wrote: “The way I appropriate some paintings is subversive, because my version involves a questioning about paternity of the idea. The fact that the original work could be redone questions its value. I think if I do a painting with such a irconic quality, if I push the idea until it gets stuck in people’s mind, I have to put an obstacle between the audience and the original work, because if people saw my Demoiselles d’Alabama, they’ll have it in mind when seeing Picasso’s.” (Patton, 1998, p.236)
#228 by Cindy Sherman, for instance, is not a painting but a photograph. The choice of this medium suggests inevitably a discussion on the democratic potential of artwork reproducibility. Sherman actually thinks her work is in part motivated by being tired of the attitude that interpret art as something inaccessible, religious or sacred, and expire the desire to create something that “everybody could appreciate”. (Wood, 1993, p.240)
This involves a notion simulacrum; Jean Baudrillard wrote: “The simulacrum is not what hides the reality, it is the reality hiding the fact that there is non. Simulacrum is the reality.” (Baudrillard, 1981, p.233)
There are a lot of reasons why the use of borrowed elements got into artistic processes.
Difference between the original and the appropriation work can be none, subtle or obvious. It can be the fruit of the reinterpretation of a subject within a performance, mechanical reproduction through photography, reproduction through drawing or painting; appropriations can have as target images, but also objects, styles, ideas, values, techniques or technologies.
The limits between quotation and appropriation are vague. It is hard to define in which context an artist want to quote someone’s work, and in which situation he just steals or copy. Does mentioning sources allows to avoid plagiarism, or does mentioning the sources is obsolete when the image is sufficiently known by the audience? Where is the difference between an appropriation and a tribute?
Since the 80’s, the word appropriation gained a more specific signification, because it has been associated with the quotation approach of an artist by other artists; Appropriation Art, the art of appropriation, has been used to describe works that involve this form of quotation. In contemporary art and modern art, the borrowed elements can belong to a lot of varied sources: not only works from other artists, but also objects from quotidian life, media images (advertisings, movies, etc..), archives (family photographs, historical archives) shapes and techniques which belong to the scientific knowledge.
Quotations can be used by their own or jointly with traditional artistic practices; frequently, artistic appropriation involves a parodical, critical or subversive dimension.
Art can appropriate elements appertaining to the mass culture in order to assimilate the to the elite culture. This practice goes back to the first Ready Made presented by Marcel Duchamp.
In 1913 Marcel Duchamp installed a bicycle’s wheel on top of a stool, then bought a bottledrier, a snow shovel, etc.: Those where the first Ready Mades. In 1917, he used an urinal, signed by R. Mutt and titled Fountain in an exhibition in New York; the Ready Made was refused.
Later, lot of other artists used quotidian life’s objects and exhibited them as artworks: it is the long story of the Résonance du Ready Made. This practice represents a challenge against the traditional values associated to art, as the value of the technical ability to create an artwork, the idea of originality and paternity. The Ready Made is a ready made object, which breaks into the artistic sphere thanks to the artist’s signature: daily objects, selected in absence of good or bad taste. The power of the artist consists in the possibility to introduce in the artistic circle a polemic and sacrilegious concept in the form of an object.
Pop Artists took ownership of a large variety of images, shapes and other elements, materials and techniques, from everyday life and mass culture. The appropriation, in this case, achieved a different task than the one researched by Ready Made. Often, Pop Artists moved art closer to quotidian, or insisted on the importance of mass culture and on the mental and aesthetic impact of the proliferation of industrial images if expanded massively, distributed on walls, screens and therefore in minds.
For instance, in Andy Warhol’s work, the manysided artistic practice is oriented to several areas. This artist operated the appropriation of media images (photographs, published in tabloids, showing icons of American society, as Marilyn Monroe, Lyz Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy, etc.): the appropriation of reproduction’s modality (reproduction in industrial scale) and distribution’s modality (obsessive repetition of images from television and advertising). However, in Warhol’s images some aspects stay irreducible to the popular imaging, and in those aspects probably resides the artistic value of the image: its identity is defined in the difference.
On the contrary, Richard Prince’s work is closer to Duchamp’s work, but applied more to media images than the objects. Prince started to rephotograph images from advertising and tabloids, and became famous especially for his Marlboro’s cowboys reproductions. The sliding from Ready Made to the readymade images, symbolizes the change, which, from a society of producing objects, brings us to a society that produces information, images and mythologies.
Artists have often imitated artworks by other artist in order to learn the processes and artistic techniques: in the past, this practice was encouraged by the academy of fine arts. Those reproductions were interpreted as exercises, but the imitation of more famous and acclaimed artists was a common practice not only in plastic arts, but also in literature.
One of the most famous artists practicing Appropriation Art is Sherrie Levine, who became famous in the early 80’s thanks to the essay The Originality of the AvantGarde by Rosalind Krauss. Levine took ownership of images and other works from past generations of photographers and painters. In 1983, after having rephotographed some photographs, following Prince’s approach, she started reproducing artworks with aquarelles and in one version, with graphite. In 1990, after redrawing and repainting, she created threedimensional artworks from the appropriations of twodimensional images.
Using borrowed images defies the idea of an artwork being totally original. In a world saturated by images and representations of reality, it is hard to create an image entirely and naturally original: the artist become image manipulator, on basis of shapes and styles, which already exist.
Andy Warhol had to deal with a series of legal actions against the photographers from who he appropriated and screenprinted artworks.
For instance, Patricia Caulfield published a photograph of flowers; Andy Warhol had covered Leo Castelli’s walls with screenprintings of Caulfield’s photographs. The photographer claimed paternity of the image and Warhol had to pay the copyrights on the image.
Jeff Koons also had to deal with copyright problems because of his association’s work. The photographer Art Roger denounced Koons, in 1989, because his artwork, String of Puppies, was reproducing in a threedimensional way Roger’s photograph. Koons, claimed the parodical use of the picture but lost the case.
The appropriation can also be interpreted as an aggressive reaction against the quoted source, or the culture that made it. The appropriations of Levine had been interpreted as an aggressive feminist critique: white men have created Modernism, and women have been pictured as objects of the masculine gaze. The woman artist appropriating the male culture claims the right to express and create, manipulate the elite culture, not only in the present but also on a historical level. The problem of quotation, appropriation and intellectual property is becoming an actual fact, since the appearance of open sources software.
In January 2014, following a number of apologies in return to accusations of plagiarism from graphic novelist Daniel Clowes (Duke, 2014) Shia LaBeouf declared that his Twitter account was a “metamodernist performance art” (Harrison, 2014). He collaborated with Finnish performance artist Nastja Rönkkö and British artist Luke Turner (Stampler, 2014) in order to start a succession of performances defined by Dazed Magazine as “a multiplatform meditation on celebrity and vulnerability” (Tsjeng, 2014).
On the 9th of February 2014, LaBeouf caused controversy by walking out in the middle of a press conference for director Lars Von Trier’s new film Nymphomaniac at the Berlin Film Festival. While exiting the conference he quoted the wellknown “seagulls” declaration made by French football star Eric Cantona: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea”.
The same evening, he presented himself on the red carpet headcovered by a brown paper carrier bag painted with the words “I am not famous anymore” (BBC News, 2014)
Two days later, the 11th of February 2014, Turner, Rönkkö and LaBeouf executed a sixday performance entitled #IAMSORRY in an art gallery in Los Angeles.
During the performance, LaBeouf cried in front of the gallery’s visitors, sitting at a table, wearing a dinner suit and the paper bag covering face (Eordogh, 2014).
The visitors were authorized to enter the room one at the time, and asked to pick an object from a selection of “implements” to enter with (Romano, 2014)
Kate Knibbs from The Daily Dot, described the experiment as “genuinely disturbing” and felt like she “was further dehumanizing someone whose humanity I’d (she’d) discounted” (Knibbs, 2014), while Time columnist Joel Stein waited during three days straight to experience the performance. He noticed that LaBeouf “was immensely present” and that “he was whatever was projected upon him” (Stein, 2014). “There was more going on in those few seconds than in a lot of contemporary art. LaBeouf lookatme Internet penance ritual had become an actual moment between actual people”, opined Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano (Romano, 2014). The following November, LaBeouf said in an email interview with Dazed Magazine that a girl “stripped (his) clothing and proceeded to rape (him)” (Cliff, 2014).
Both The Guardian and Time advised that #IAMSORRY is inspired from The Artist Is Present by Marina Abramovic (Eordogh, 2014), even if Abramovic herself affirmed that “this is not the same work”, arguing that LaBeouf art performance was “a pretty strong statement” and that she felt it to be very intriguing “that the Hollywood world wanted to go back on performance... to be connected to (the) direct public, which, you know, being a Hollywood actor doesn’t permit you” (Avins, 2014). And While Jerry O’Connell satirized the performance right next door to the gallery by opening his own art installation entitled #IAMSORRYTOO for the comedy website Funny or Die (Dodge, 2014), James Franco wrote an article for The New York Times in which he showed his support of LaBeouf. He considered the #IAMSORRY project “a worthy one” and described is as a performance “in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona” (Franco, 2014).
On the third Monday of February 2014 (President’s Day), LaBeouf found a way for writing in the sky over Los Angeles the words “#STARTCREATING” (Aurthur, 2014). This happened the day after LaBeouf’s gallery performance ended and was in total contradiction to the opposite skywriting LaBeouf had made the month before. Indeed he skywrote in January “#STOPCREATING” as regards to an infringement letter he received from Clowe’s Lawyer (Colette and Stark, 2014).
LaBeouf also participated, in May 2014, in an art show at London’s Auto Italia South East in which he did a performance named Meditation for Narcissists. During his performance, he skipped rope live via a Skype Link for one hour. He asked for the audience to join him during this performance, taking the ropes provided in the exhibition room and “Join me on my quest to find my inner self”. “All gave off an air of selfconsciousness that came not from watching themselves in a digital mirror, but from being under the gaze of someone who is usually – constantly – under the gaze of the public”, reported Dazed in their article (Cliff, 2014).
In 2014, Shia LaBeouf gave lectures via Skype at Radbound University Nijmegen, in which he presented a talk on Metamodernism (De Gelderlander (web), 2014) and at the London College of Fashion, where he read an extract from Guy Debord’s 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle (Tsjeng, 2014).
In his book, Guy Debord discerns the evolution of a modern society for whom authentic social life has been substituted by a portrayal of it: “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation”. He develops that we can understand the evolution of social life as “the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing”. Following Debord’s reflection, this situation is the “historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life”.
The spectacle is an mirror image of society in which communication between people has been replaced by relations between possession, a society in which “passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity”. “The spectacle is not a collection of images” (Debord, 1992).
Debord outlines in his book Comments on The Society of Spectacle that life quality is distressed, with a specific absence of genuineness, human perceptions are emotionally hurt, and a deterioration of awareness take place with the prevention of critical thought.
Debord thinks of the use of awareness as a way to relieve reality: the past is obfuscated by the spectacle, and morphs with the future in some kind of neverending / neverstarted present. The spectacle is made in order to avoid individuals taking conscience that the society of spectacle is just a short instant in their life experiences, a moment which could be dismantled, with the help of a revolution (Debord, 1996). Debord tries “to wake up the spectator who has been drugged by spectacular images” “through radical action in the form of the construction of situations”, ”situations that bring a revolutionary reordering of life, politics, and art”. For the Situationists, a situation is an actively madeup moment, which is defined by “a sense of selfconsciousness of existence within a particular environment or ambience” (Ford, 2005).
Guy Debord has always been a fervent defender of the use of hijack, “which involves using spectacular images and language to disrupts the flow of the spectacle” (Debord, 1996).
Another actor as famous as Shia LaBeouf, Joaquin Phoenix, decided to depersonalize himself in 2010 for Casey Affleck’s secret mockumentary I’m Still Here. According to Phoenix, the movie got inspired from his astonishment that people really thought Reality Television Shows aren’t scripted. By announcing his retirement in late 2008 from acting, he and his brotherinlaw / friend Casey Affleck decided to make a film that would “explore celebrity, and explore the relationship between the media and the consumers and the celebrities themselves” (Walker, 2010). “Any artist, regardless of his field, can experience distance between his true self and his public persona” stated James Franco defending Shia LaBeouf and Joaquin Phoenix’s career choices (Franco, 2014).
The word Metamodernism, has been used in 1975 for the first time by Mas’ud Zavarzadeh to describe a cluster of attitudes or aesthetics which emerged in the mid50’s in American literature (Zavarzadeh, 1975, p.69).
By the 90’s, the term Metamodernism has been explained as an “extension of challenge to Modernism and Postmodernism” with the ambition to “transcend, fracture, subvert, circumvent, interrogate and disrupt, hijack and appropriate Modernity and Postmodernity” (Harris and Okediji, 1999, p.32).
Metamodernism has further been described in 2007 as a movement that is “after yet by means of modernism... a departure as well as a perpetuation”. The relation between Modernism and Metamodernism was perceived as reaching “far beyond homage, toward a reengagement with Modernist method in order to address subject matter well outside the range or interest of the modernists themselves” (Furlani, 2007, p.713). Alexandra Dumitrescu, in 2007, described Metamodernism as an emergence form, and also a competition with, but mostly a consequence of Postmodernism that “champions the idea that only in their interconnection and continuous revision lie the possibility of grasping the nature of contemporary cultural and literary phenomena” (Dumitrescu, 2007).
Cultural theorists Robin Van Den Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen proposed, in 2010, Modernism as a meditation in the Postmodernism debate. They affirmed in their study Notes on Metamodernism, that the 2000’s generation is defined by the rebound of usually Modern opinions, which didn’t damage Postmodernist positions from the 80’s or 90’s. In their thoughts, the Metamodern sensitivity “can be conceived of as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism”, distinctive of societies answers to major events like financial crises, digital revolution, political inconstancy or even climate change (Vermeulen and Van Den Akker, 2010). They stated that “the Postmodern culture of relativism, irony and pastiche” is finished, having been retrieved by a post ideologist circumstance that emphasises influence, storytelling and engagement (Levin, 2015).
The prefix “Meta” isn’t used in reference to a repeated reflection or a contemplative position, but to Metaxu, described by Plato in his Symposium, which designates an oscillation between two opposite poles as well as further. The comeback of a Romantic sensitivity has been settled as a main aspect of Metamodernism, argued by Van Den Akker & Vermeulen through the work of artists such as Kaye Donachie, Peter Doig, Ragnar Kjartansson, Bas Jan Ader and Charles Avery (Vermeulen and Van Den Akker, 2010).
Van Den Akker and Vermeulen defined Metamodernism as a “structure of feeling” that oscillates between Postmodernism and Modernism just as “a pendulum swinging between... innumerable poles” (Kunze, 2014).
Kim Levin stated, in an ARTnews article, that the oscillation “must embrace doubt, as well as hope and melancholy, sincerity and irony, affect and apathy, the personal and the political, and technology and techne (which is translated as knowingness)” (Levin, 2015). According to Vermeulen, for the Metamodernist generation “grand narratives are as necessary as they are problematic, hope is not simply something to distrust, love not necessarily something to be ridiculed”. Thimotheus Vermeulen assures that “Metamodernism is not so much a philosophy – which implies a closed ontology – as it is an attempt at a vernacular, or... a sort of open source document, that might contextualise and explain what is going on around us, in political economy as much as in the arts” (Potter, 2012)
Luke Turner published in 2011 a Metamodernist Manifesto. In it, Turner proposed Metamodernism as “the mercurial condition between and beyond irony and sincerity, naivety and knowingness, relativism and truth, optimism and doubt, in pursuit of a plurality of disparate and elusive horizons” (Turner, 2011). And after quoting the writings of Van Den Akker & Vermeulen, Turner ended writing “We must go forth and oscillate”! Shia LaBeouf has been credited later as part of their larger artistic partnership.
In definitive, we could easily affirm that, yes, everybody will have his or her fifteen minutes of fame. Using social media and hashtags are a key point in getting attention and sharing our opinion, point of view or work with the whole world. We need to find a balance between impersonating and depersonalization in order to find our inner self, because our generation wants sincerity and authenticity but also it also wants everything to be staged and well presented. We need to oscillate between the pas and the future. We need to find to jump from one medium to another in order to create a whole that will represent our society, our universe. We need to be honest. The only point is about making the audience react, by acting in a paradoxical way, to confuse them, by lying, by telling the truth, by helping them find their own truth. Let them realize who they really are in order to let them help us realize what we really are.
Because actions do not define somebody, it is the way you do it that matters. “
CSM MAFA 2015