Aaron asked which decade was the best for me. Personally, the 90s were a trying period, marked by my struggles against insecurity and social anxiety. Yet, culturally, it remains the last decade I can define with distinct attributes. The dawn of the new millennium ushered in a period of big, long blur—the Internet diffusing distinct cultural movements. Some might describe the dominant ideology since 2000 as identity politics or social justice, but it feels to me like endless bickering over fairness, who deserves more attention and sympathy, a race to the bottom.
In the 20th century, there was a palpable spirit of unity within artistic movements. Although artists worked individually, they were united in their passion for exploration and discovery. There was excitement over the shared visions.
True, white men dominated the art world, but it was, after all, a continuation of the Western discourse that began among European men. The gradual shift towards inclusivity was deemed insufficient for some, leading to finger-pointing for the perceived slow pace of change. Today, this sense of grievance has become the main subject of art.
When I wander through art galleries and museums, I cannot see the rationale behind the selections. Why is this piece on display while another by an unknown artist gathers dust in storage? I can no longer rely on galleries and museums to curate works that deserve our attention on artistic merits.
It’s a paradox; social media is adept at rallying the masses. It can destroy someone’s career in a matter of days, but it seems to work only for pitting one group against another, for power struggles.
Before the Internet, we were free from worrying about getting attention, mainly because most of us had no access to platforms like TV and radio. Today, the democratization of the mass media means that everyone vies for a slice of the attention pie, making artistic substance a mere cherry on top.
Aaron’s generation has never known a world without the constant chase for validation. From that perspective, perhaps the 90s is the answer to his question.
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