Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art And Complicity
by Johanna Drucker
Published by University of Chicago Press, copyright 2006.
Hardcover, 291 pages.
Johanna Drucker's "sweet dream" is for a new and more positive approach to contemporary art. Drucker argues that contemporary art is fully engaged with material culture yet still struggling to escape the oppositional legacy of the early-twentieth-century avant-garde. She calls for a revamping of the critical vocabulary used to discuss art into one more befitting current creative practices.
Drucker shows that artists today are aware of working within the ideologies of mainstream culture and have replaced avant-garde resistance with acknowledged complicity. Finding their materials at malls and superstores or exploring celebrity culture, contemporary artists have created a vibrantly playful attitude towards mass culture all while critics continue to cling to an outmoded vocabulary of opposition and radical negativity that defined modernism's avant-garde. At the cutting edge of new media research, Drucker surveys a wide range of exciting contemporary artists, demonstrating their clear departure from the past and petitioning viewers and critics to shift their own terms and sensibilities as well. Sweet Dreams is a testament to the creative processes and self-conscious heterogeneity of art today as well as a revolutionary effort to celebrate imaginative, creative thought and the value of art in contemporary life.