Art Essay Fiction Future Novel

Art Essay Fiction Future Novel-11
“But a work of art, like the world, is a living form.It’s in its form that its reality resides.” So if form is now all-important—more so than content—what is the form that contemporary works of art so often take? This also happens to be the form of doubles as a blueprint for it: It is a pastiche, a series of intentionally “plagiarized” aphorisms, presented without quotation marks.There is a mockumentary retrospective feel to it: a piecemeal investigation into the events that precipitated the demise of this gloriously short-lived secret society, which required its members to make portable art, i.e., readymades a la Duchamp’s box-in-a-suitcase. That’s not the sole project of the readymade novel, however: Vila-Matas also reminds us that we don’t live like nineteenth-century French novelists anymore, so we should stop writing according to their demodé, quasi-scientific conventions of realism: “We loath the realist who thinks the task of the writer is to reproduce, copy, imitate reality, as if, in its chaotic evolution, its monstrous complexity, reality could be trapped and narrated,” writes Vila-Matas in .

“But a work of art, like the world, is a living form.It’s in its form that its reality resides.” So if form is now all-important—more so than content—what is the form that contemporary works of art so often take? This also happens to be the form of doubles as a blueprint for it: It is a pastiche, a series of intentionally “plagiarized” aphorisms, presented without quotation marks.There is a mockumentary retrospective feel to it: a piecemeal investigation into the events that precipitated the demise of this gloriously short-lived secret society, which required its members to make portable art, i.e., readymades a la Duchamp’s box-in-a-suitcase. That’s not the sole project of the readymade novel, however: Vila-Matas also reminds us that we don’t live like nineteenth-century French novelists anymore, so we should stop writing according to their demodé, quasi-scientific conventions of realism: “We loath the realist who thinks the task of the writer is to reproduce, copy, imitate reality, as if, in its chaotic evolution, its monstrous complexity, reality could be trapped and narrated,” writes Vila-Matas in .

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For Shields, novels that employ the traditional conventions of narration, plot, and story no longer make sense. For a more accurate reflection of how we experience this reality, we ought to think of novels the way we think about art.

“A novel, for most readers—and critics—is primarily a ‘story,’” writes Shields.

In Vila-Matas’ latest novel, the writer has literally become a contemporary art exhibition.

The novel lightly fictionalizes Vila-Matas’ real-life experience at the Documenta art exhibition in Kassel, Germany, where he was invited to participate in a week-long writer-in-residence program in 2013.

Cole and Lerner are on their way to greater recognition, and one hopes their future novels will create more buzz, but Vila-Matas and Zambra will have to wait for more English-language translations of their work to get their proper due; Sophie Calle may be perpetually too avant-garde.

Regardless of their varying commercial successes, the emergence of these writers suggests at least a small audience with an interest in how we experience art today.The “readymade” writers are, of course, still on the fringes of contemporary literature.Only Pamuk and Sebald are currently internationally famous.Most art fairs, including Frieze London and Frieze New York, feature talks by writers in their programs.Hustvedt, the author of a well-received book of art criticism as well, has lectured at the Prado and the Met.“Art is art, and what you make of it is up to you,” the Documenta curator reminds us.Grapping with competing interpretations, processing your various associations, feelings, and theories—this is the of art in the new millennium.The avant-garde writers of today aspire to be conceptual artists, and have their novels considered conceptual art. Instead of trying to understand reality via a slew of concrete details, omniscience, multiple viewpoints, or anything else that we’ve traditionally expected from fiction, the readymade novel poses an idea or raises a question.It is more interested in the concept behind a work of art—behind itself—than its execution.The readymade novel underlines the chief virtue (or curse) of conceptual art: Unlike traditional visual art, you don’t actually need to see a readymade to “get it.” But if you do go to see it, it’s just as if you’ve opened up a readymade novel: You’re not merely a passive viewer of art, but an active participant in its formation.Two newly published books by the Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas show just how deeply this literature-as-conceptual-art trend has permeated avant-garde contemporary literature.

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