In unabashedly oxymoronic terms, the New York Times has identified an intermittent "glut" of minimalism in contemporary culture.
How is it that many of the wealthiest homes and businesses in major cities are so often ostentatiously spartan? What sort of relationship to wealth and power does such a studied, stylized impoverishment of form entail? Does the Marie Kondo-style injunction to get rid of things not presume a degree of accumulation which many poor and working people never experience (or objects they would be loath to part with if they possessed them)?
This talk examines some of these questions in light of the term "minimalism" - as both a catch-all phrase and as an art historical tendency, one which came to prominence in the 1960s. In particular, it considers the Italian origins and inflections of minimalism, as well as a critical historiography which has often sought to yoke Minimalist art to fascist politics. Paying attention to the shifting parameters and applications of the term, the talk examines minimalism as a floating ideological signifier.