Cultural Barbarians

Cultural Barbarians

2016, Art and Artists  -   15 Comments
Ratings: 6.34/10 from 56 users.

Is art dead, or is its definition merely evolving? In Cultural Barbarians, an intriguing episode of the acclaimed VPRO Backlight series, we witness a collective of modern-day artists as they grapple with this question, and search for means of creative expression that transcend paint on a canvas or a carefully crafted phrase in a book.

Art's ability to reflect our world has been challenged in the face of shortened attention spans and the widening divide between the rich and the poor. The top tier works are often viewed as investments, and not profound expressions meant for display. The super wealthy can purchase a Picasso for tens of millions of dollars only to shutter it within secluded steel vaults. Meanwhile, for the general public, the great works of art throughout history seem less relevant to their daily existence than ever before. Citizens of the world aren't often encouraged to interact with these works or given the tools to uncover personal meaning within them. Can art truly sustain itself in a culture that is increasingly drawn to the flash of celebrity, the artificial facade of glamour and the next disposable trend?

In this face of the conundrum, a new generation of artists is trying a different approach. The architectural collective Assemble Is just one such example featured in the film. In 2015, this group of young artists won the prestigious Turner prize for their plans to refurbish living quarters in an underprivileged district of Liverpool. By moving from the sanctified halls of museum galleries to common everyday living spaces, Assemble has successfully challenged the purpose of art in the modern world.

Additional subjects in the film, including author Alessandro Baricco, philosopher Timothy Morton, and several noted visual artists, express a need to embrace the new digital age, more proactively reflect global ills such as climate change, and work to expand art's relevancy through works of social engagement and activism.

Critics and other detractors will continue to debate whether these efforts are truly representative of creative artistic expression. Regardless, Cultural Barbarians makes it clear that art is alive and well, and that it’s still capable of changing the world.

Directed by: Alexander Oey

More great documentaries

15 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Spike

    Art is not a political goes beyond the futile political motives of bias belief and personal agenda..keep art free and not political. The tag Barabrian is invented by Barabarians.

  2. S.r sahoo

    This is very nice for all artist and art interested people.becuse it's a way to making strong our art life.

  3. Bарварин

    Wine is produced in Bulgaria since its existence, and on these lands since the times of ancient Thracians, hundreds of years before Rome gave a bit of its civilization to where now France is. It is pretty funny when a barbarian call a civilized people barbarians.

    1. Varvarka

      Bravo. That is the real point. While we from the ''eastern'' Europe countries had civilisation and culture thousands of years before the Greeks and Romans and the ''western'' world calls us Barbarians....that is completely ridiculous.

  4. nino

    I had been worked in a toy fabric . Now the fabric I had worked is changed, they have placed the packaging robots so they don't need anymore emploies. But I was really professional with packing toys .Now at home I'm only packing the garbage and it is going on and on. I lie to people that is developping process and I have even got so many grants and participate residency programs. I'm doing is ART with capital letters now. Only thing I'm doing is packing and calling it art, yaeh this bull is really working. Populism is nice thing. I'm the tailor sewing invisible .

  5. Mark Gaboury

    So you need capitalism to promote Marxism. And your art is so bad, so without merit, that investing in it is like betting on a horse.

  6. BrianBruise

    Two thoughts:

    There is barely any examples of the new forms of visual art being touted. Isn't a picture worth a thousand words.

    How would some of Banksy's subversive "graffiti" fit into this discussion?

  7. Peter Nelson

    As other have pointed out, just click the CC button in the YouTube player for the full translations of the non-English parts.

  8. Cap

    Art is evolving to challenge the status quo? I think perhaps this acting within the failed capitalist economic paradigm could eventually cause the whole economic system to reform, prosecute, punish, and or imprison the criminal banksters inability to comprehend value. The immediate superficial beauty of attractive and or useful art might be the tipping point, the lynch pin, the keystone that takes the illusion of our economic paradigm down. They cultural barbarianism(the aforementioned superficial art) may be like creating a small cut on the jugular of the banksters' hold on power over us all. We may need to keep our eye on this new art "movement".

  9. bungabunga

    wow gunnar in LA you really get it. keep spreading the knowledge my friend.

  10. lib

    GunnarInLA , i watched to the end despite all the languages i did not understand. Later artists were making environmentally and politically conscious works - as was the first artist - they did not discuss funding - at least not in the English speaking segments. The work of artists engaged in pointing out "political criminality... death and destruction to the innocent and defenceless" is important, valid, exciting, inspiring and interesting.

  11. lib

    I would appreciate subtitles!!

  12. lib

    i dont speak Italian. I would appreciate subtitles!!

  13. Janet

    yes, want subs, please!!!!!

  14. Someone

    You can press the CC button on the player