In contemporary art galleries, everyday objects are displayed as works, an example of which is the famous urinal by Marcel Duchamp. Does this mean that anything can be art today?

That's right - everything can be considered art. Art, like many things in the world around us, is a matter of an established convention. However, this is not a sign of weakness in the art world. On the contrary, this absorbency is its greatest advantage. This state of affairs opens up many possibilities for both the recipient and the creator. Although in the end the possibilities are limited by a large number of fuses. Not everything that we consider art today will be included in the textbook "History of the 21st century art" in the future.

When creating the publication, we chose 16 questions that often bother people who occasionally visit galleries or museums of contemporary art. We asked professionals who deal with the subject of art on a daily basis - curators, gallery owners, art critics and artists themselves to answer them.

For a person unfamiliar with contemporary art, a visit to a gallery may be associated with the fear of confusing a radiator or a clothes hanger with an exhibit. How to avoid such a mishap?

Contemporary art is like learning to swim. It's best to start with a swim in the paddling pool. At an early stage, it's good to have a trainer with you to make sure we don't drown. Instead of throwing yourself into the deep water, trying to understand an exhibition yourself, it is better to arrange an appointment with an artist or curator who will shed light on the context. He will tell you what the artist meant, what led him to such and not other solutions. This type of information is a kind of lifebuoy, a contextual frame that makes it easier to decide whether what I am looking at is working on me or not. Exhibitions in public institutions have extensive educational programs, weekly curatorial tours. For starters, it's a very good option. I and many of my art friends also go on tours of this type.This allows you to better understand the artist's intentions, to confirm or change your opinions. As part of the exhibition, we used a metaphor that compared the reception of art to listening to music. You don't need to know who's playing it, why they composed it, but you can intuitively feel the rhythm, you might like the melody. However, having additional information may contribute to a more conscious experience of a given piece, although it is not a prerequisite.although they are not a prerequisite.although they are not a prerequisite.

Does this mean that contemporary art does not have to be understood, but should be felt?

One of the most basic ways to experience art is by looking at its aesthetic value. Artists often deal with beauty - sensual, political or ethical. I myself often experience such a situation that when entering a gallery, I am more attracted to the building or the way of architectural shaping of the space than the art that is inside. Because let's not be afraid to say that there are both good and bad works in the art world. I am convinced that everyone can judge for himself what he finds interesting. I am opposed to the mentoring approach and saying that looking at the art of professionals is the only right one.

Can the tastes of the masses decide what is art, or does the decision always lie with the professionals?

I would very much like the masses to debate what is art and what is not. Nowadays, art is often relegated to the ghetto of experts. We are then dealing with a situation in which the artists talk to themselves. And when they try to break through, to reach the masses, they meet a wall of incomprehension. One can point to a whole range of artistic scandals, which resulted mainly from a misunderstanding of what the artist really meant.

What brings publicity to a wider audience is provocation. Do artists always consciously reach for it?

I think it is usually a very conscious act. It occurs as a result of feedback. High-circulation dailies liquidate cultural departments, and in those that still operate, very little is written about contemporary art. This leads to some frustration among the artists. This is why they sometimes resort to controversial measures such as scandal and provocation .

A scandal attracts attention, but carries risks - it can discourage people from the artist and his work.

By activating a high-pitched tone, you get a high-pitched response. You point out one stereotype, but you are attacked by 10 others. In a way, this makes the discussion difficult. That is why every artist who tries to provoke a scandal or a provocation should be aware of the rules of this game. If mass media is his field of activity, let him be a social engineer and use the energy he has released in society. Certainly I would not take away the right to apply such strategies.

Are there any limits to artistic provocation?

People use art in different ways. Sometimes art becomes a determinant of economic or social status. If someone decides to follow this strategy, they have the right to do so. However, it seems to me that something more can be learned from art.

Why do we need contemporary art at all? Why is it worth making the effort to understand it?

Art is useful in everyday life. Communing with the works of artists can inspire many things, such as rearranging your living space. Art is also an excellent intellectual exercise. Thanks to it, we can start to see completely new things in our daily life. Reading is an exercise for the brain, and watching art is an exercise of imagination, sensitizing oneself, learning to look at the world consciously. Art gives you the opportunity to ask questions, question the obvious and understand that anything can become a topic for discussion.

Can everyone be an artist today?

Anyone can become an artist today. You don't even have to graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts. I myself know a few lawyers or corporate employees who at some point in their lives decided that they felt a knack for undermining reality, drawing beautifully or creating unique sculptures. They just wanted to create artistic situations. There are many such stories. It is easy to announce to the world that you are an artist, but it is difficult to interest others with your actions. Stairs can appear at a very early stage - where to show off your work. It is the owners of the galleries who decide what will be shown in their galleries. Contrary to appearances, the world of art is very institutionalized, new works are constantly subject to criticism from other participants - critics, curators or the artists themselves

Are there any artists who do not have artistic talents?

Some people even flaunt their inability to paint. At the same time, this does not prevent them from creating interesting works that are based on something other than the traditionally understood art workshop. The Duchamp urinal you mentioned is a very underrated moment in art history. It started a whole series of revaluations. It was then that the artists looked at what they were doing from the outside and decided to go in a different direction. For some, the urinal was a joke to prove that the art world is one big lie. For others, Duchamp proved that there is a way other than creating illusions or models of reality. After all, he has made the equation of reality and art. He did not create a copy of the urinal for the exhibition, but decided to operate in the real world. This event opened a whole range of possibilities for artists.They can still stick with brushes and painting, but they can also start working on a 1: 1 scale, for example choosing interpersonal relationships as the medium they want to work on. We can also think the other way around, what will happen if we take such a work of art out of the gallery and transfer it to reality, which can lead us to using art, not just watching it. These issues are discussed in detail in his book by Canadian art theorist Stephen Wright - author of the Lexicon of the Use of Art.what using art can lead us to, not just watching it. These issues are discussed in detail in his book by Canadian art theorist Stephen Wright - author of the Lexicon of the Use of Art.what using art can lead us to, not just watching it. These issues are discussed in detail in his book by Canadian art theorist Stephen Wright - author of the Lexicon of the Use of Art.

And here the laymen get lost, because there are no clear boundaries between what is art and what is not.

I am convinced that both the person unfamiliar with contemporary art and the professional dealing with the subject on a daily basis are at the same level of confusion here. Also, professionals who attend contemporary art exhibitions are often unable to understand immediately the intentions and consequences of artists' actions. They need to come to the gallery three times, meet the artist, put the action into some kind of discursive frame, and it is only after fate that a coherent narrative is created. In my opinion, the position of the layman can be very opening in such a situation - the layman has no habits, so he does not try to force new phenomena into the framework of old theories. Sometimes it allows you to see and understand more. Meanwhile, the so-called ordinary people limit themselves by telling themselves that they will not understand that art is not for them.When often the point is not to understand something.

Why is contemporary art rarely pretty? Have aesthetic values ​​ceased to count?

In fact, artists very rarely want to make pretty things, although I know those for whom the aesthetics of their works is still very important. Many choose ugliness as the area of ​​their search. Artists, being particularly sensitive individuals, turn in a world that is not very beautiful and maybe they would like to create beauty, but they see that it would not be adequate to what surrounds them.

In the past, workshop and artistic talent were a barrier to becoming an artist. Today, as we have already mentioned, the artist does not need to be able to paint or sculpt. Works of contemporary art sometimes seem to be trivial in terms of technique.

We also have to remember that the spectacular prices of paintings that make so much media hype are art trades in the auction market that artists usually do not profit from. The artist sold the painting to a collector a few years ago and the work began to live its own life. It should also be borne in mind that many take part in this race, and we remember the names of only a few.and we remember the names of only a few.and we remember the names of only a few.

We already know that a contemporary artist does not have to paint or sculpt beautifully. And what quality or skill should he have?

It seems to me that the sensitivity is above average. I used to think that artists could deceive us and tell us that something was good art when it really wasn't. I don't think that anymore today. Works of art are verified over time. If an artist does not have this sensitivity and nothing to say, then maybe he will achieve temporary success, but he will not go down in history. True art will defend itself even after several hundred years, examples of which can be seen in modern museums.

What role do art schools play today, or are they needed at all, since artists no longer need to have an art workshop?

They are needed to create enclaves in which a certain way of thinking is cultivated. The Academy of Fine Arts should absolutely not be liquidated, but rather reformed to reflect the current reality. Few of the academy graduates decide to pursue a strictly artistic career, many of them end up in advertising agencies and produce television programs with millions of viewers. So somewhere out there they become engineers of the collective imagination, but the sad thing is that it is not necessarily engineering directing us towards a pluralist society. However, artistic skills are valuable and needed in the modern world.

In today's world of soap operas and realist shows, is there a space for demanding contemporary art? After all, we are used to not thinking too much, but looking at pictures thoughtlessly.

That's why even more work needs to be done to encourage people to be active. We should be aware that this general intellectual laziness has consequences in other areas of life. Can the economy thrive in a society devoid of critical reflection?

Why do the authorities prefer self-evident monuments that do not offer any interpretation possibilities?

Perhaps they do not want such interpretative possibilities, that everyone is clear about what they think about a given person or about a given event. History is the subject of a struggle, a clash of different narratives, a different interpretation of the same set of facts. Therefore, the monument should be obvious, so that no one has any doubts as to how and what to remember.