The New Philistines by Sohrab Ahmari

Author(s): Sohrab Ahmari
Publisher: Biteback Publishing
Year of Publication: 2017
Number of Pages: 144
Genre: Non-Fiction, Art, Politics
Where to Buy: The New Philistines (Amazon).

Why do so many people who visit modern, contemporary exhibitions leave us feeling unfulfilled and disappointed? Could it be to do with the fact that we’re living in an age where a pair of glasses left on the floor at an art gallery now have the potential of being mistaken for an exhibit? (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/27/pair-of-glasses-left-on-us-gallery-floor-mistaken-for-art)

The truth, as Ahmari so eloquently points out, is that identity politics has seeped through the cracks, with identitarians shamelessly infesting the world of art with their warped views of the world and ostensibly rebellious causes behind why they’ve provided us with exhibits that are qualitatively far worse than what we’ve ever been confronted with before. A coat draped over the back of a chair is, in their mind, viewed as art – and we’re falling for it! Thousands upon thousands of people flock to these galleries to stand before exhibits which feature things that you could easily do yourself, or could be accidentally assembled by a child who has grasped at arbitrary objects around them. At what point did we, as a society, decide that art no longer needed to aesthetically pleasing and value work that quite clearly took no effort or skill to create?

Despite my feelings of agitation invoked by nature of the subjects touched on in this book, I learnt a lot from Ahmari’s knowledge of art and politics. He takes the time to explain things in layman’s terms, thus avoiding the unnecessary convoluted language we’re often faced with in books like these. Although it was relatively short, I put this down to the fact that all the points were concise and clear, as well as easy to understand. To have included another chapter would have simply been pleonastic of Ahmari, as all that was necessary to say, was said.

I’d recommend this to anyone who feels a pang of indignation when they’re reminded of what the world of art has degenerated into, as you’re certainly not alone in that respect.

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