it seems to me that the term 'contemporary' art is increasingly used by so called 'curators' who really have no understanding of art history.
I must begin by confirming a personal interest ( gripe) here in that as a painter I am very aware that in many areas this medium is somehow seen as not being worthy of the term 'contemporary'. However , i believe that i understand why this may be the case.
It is a sad fact that some institutions of learning ( particularly in fine art) have lost the teaching staff who are;
a/ working artists themselves
b/ have high levels of technical skill
The result is that students do not have access to a full range of creative methods and techniques. The emphasis is shifted to concept rather than construction. Many of these students themselves fall into teaching and the cycle is continued.
Meanwhile ( as i have metioned in earlier posts) in order to secure funding from the arts council or similar bodies, public galleries need to justify an education programme. In some cases this is done by forming links with local universities. As a result, the gallery's programme of events becomes associated with the 'colour' of that particular university. If the learning institution is of the type described above, what we have is a recipe for a kind of monopoly on what the public are told is 'contemporary art'.
This is of course not a new phenomenon. The links between galleries and art schools goes back a very
long way and it is in theory a very healthy relationship. However the evolution of our 'tick box' culture has created a generation of teachers and curators who are concerned with the completion of the criteria on the assesment and funding forms. The filling in of all those little boxes without which there will be no money! We may have come to believe that without funding there will be no art!! So there are fewer people in the arts who will lift their heads, step back and simply ask 'Is this good art?..Is this worthy...Is it effective..and ( dare I say it?) .Is this VISUALLY interesting???...Why? ..because they are essentially administrators and not educationalists or critics.
The result is often that the term 'contemporary art' is not neccessarily associated with that which is dealing with todays issues in today society..it is associated with certain media and methods preferred by particular institutions. We sometimes end up seeing exhibitions of what I call 'novelty art' rather than 'new art'.
How do we address this? I am not really sure to be honest but what I do believe is that before recovery can take place, one must admit there is a problem. Wouldn't this be a truly creative and couragous challenge for us all!