What role does beauty play in contemporary art?

Use the following questions and related media as a way to initiate dialogue about contemporary art and specific ideas related to where art is seen, how it is made, and who makes it. Related images and video segments should inspire a variety of responses and provoke new ways of thinking about possible answers.

What role does beauty play in contemporary art? Does a work of art need to be beautiful? Why or why not? Who defines beauty?


Kimsooja. "To Breathe—A Mirror Woman," 2006. Diffraction grating film, mirror, and sound performance piece by the artist from "The Weaving Factory," 2004. Installation at The Crystal Palace, Madrid. Photo by Jaeho Chong. © Kimsooja. Courtesy the artist and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina SofĂ­a, Madrid.

"To Breathe—A Mirror Woman (2006), an installation at the Crystal Palace in Madrid, is the meeting point of my bottari and sewing practices. I see the piece as a bottari of light and sound and reflection—not really creating something physical, but putting the void all the way to the surface of the Crystal Palace window glass, using diffraction grating film that diffuses light into the rainbow spectrum. At the same time, I connected my voice (my breathing practice) to my sewing practice. A mirror, all over the floor, reflects the whole structure of the Crystal Palace. I thought the space should be empty and that I should use it just as space itself, putting the sound of my breathing inside it, occupying the whole space. In this space that is filled with the sound of my breathing, people feel that they enter into someone else's body. They try to integrate the rhythm of my breathing with their own, and feel the sensation of the rainbows diffused from the film and the reflection from the mirror of the structure."
—Kimsooja


Excerpt: Yinka Shonibare MBE in "Transformation"