Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Étienne


A sign at the entrance to Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain

Is this contemporary art, or simply a sign?

When I saw it on the steps down from the tram stop to the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain in Saint-Etienne a few weeks ago I initially assumed it was contemporary art: some sort of commentary on the emergence of surveillance states. But then it occurred to me that it could just be a sign. Not a commentary. Not a political statement. Not art. Just a sign. I looked around. There were indeed lots of CCTV cameras…

So, is it art, or not? And who decides? Initially I was trying to establish if it was art based on the intention of the person who had put it there: was it meant to be art? Was it meant to make a statement? But then I thought: maybe if I interpret it as art, it becomes art?

These perhaps aren’t very original questions: what it is that makes contemporary art art is something that people often seem to discuss. Many people say that nowadays people will call anything art. But this is the first time that I have been aware of my mistaking something that wasn’t meant to be art, for something that was, because of this trend. Does this mean we’ve taken the concept of ‘art’ too far and thereby rendered it meaningless? Or are we waking up to the truth that everything is art?

I don’t know, but it would make for an interesting essay topic… What do you think?


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