The Packing Room Prize never veers at all. The winning portrait usually depicts a person famous in the media, and it is always either the most strictly realist portrait in that range, or very occasionally a comic, but highly worked, caricature. Nothing varying from the job of accurate representation has ever made the cut.
Are these judges…genuinely concerned about cultural appropriation? Or are they actually concerned about the accusations of cultural appropriation that are likely to result (via social media) if they award and publish a story that turns out to be written by someone who doesn’t identify clearly and directly with their subject matter?
The ‘artist’ is no longer simply an individual maker, an avant-garde visionary, a person exploring the specifics and limits of a medium, or indeed any of the other familiar figures of aesthetic modernity. Instead, the ‘artist’ is marked out by their success at doing exactly what late capitalism demands; that is, everything, and in a flagrantly vacuous way.
The implicit politics of the present—in which the deep left aim of creating a society of universal self-flourishing is rendered as a society of universal ‘safety’, in an expanded sense—trends towards a ban on representation, since any representation of suffering or wrong can be taken as exploitation or aggression.