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I love how so much of art today is criticized for not being art, “That’s not art.” I was walking around the Guggenheim several years ago, while I was living in New York, and while I was there an artist had set up a table and a couple of chairs and she was inviting anyone who wanted to sit with her in silence to join her, it was fascinating and people stood there for hours watching the artist and a stranger challenge whatever social assertion of discomfort might exist between a pair of strangers; psychologically it wouldn’t play itself out exactly as Ulay (the artist) intended simply because she is a well known performance artist and the exercise took place on the ground floor of the Guggenheim, nevertheless the idea of artistic expression is an interesting one.
Still, I could hear the silent murmurs of hundreds of thousands of people disputing the act as a form of art. The definition of art is pretty ambiguous, so however we are conditioned to enjoy art is almost completely subjective.
Culturally, even, there are certain rules of artistic form, such as what is acceptable and what is not: in Islamic culture it’s disrespectful to create a likeness of a living creature, and especially that of the prophet Muhammad. In Oriental cultures drawing or painting as a form of personal expression is opposed, because the culture is rooted on the idea that social or collective performance is far more important than individual accomplishment.
...as a result, a collective definition of art in those, and other cultures is far more definitive, however there are still people, individuals, within those cultures, that choose to practice art as a form of personal expression, inasmuch as we do in the secular Western society.
Cultures and societies and people clearly have different understandings of what art is, or should be, and yet I still have a hard time understanding how a person comes to such a capricious, and arbitrary notion that, “that’s not art.”
From a subject perspective there’s plenty of art that I think is just God-awful, I mean it is really, really bad; I don’t think I feel that way about the whole of any particular style or medium, but among the different styles and mediums I have seen pieces that I cannot understand, I don’t like it, I don’t know how anyone else might possibly like it, still no matter how awful something might be I could never see myself challenging the expression as anything less than art.
There is a lot of art out there that I feel is a fabricated expression of feeling or emotion or thought, when I feel as if the creator may have been more involved with how a person might receive it than they were the expression of-, and that annoys me, but I’ll concede that even that is art, it may take a more roundabout means to effort a psychological motive, it’s still a form of some kind of expression.
There are certain aspects of the artistic that some people, kind of, hollow in order to impose an agenda or a sort of developmental neglect, such as parts of dance. I find most dance to be beautiful and often sensual, but some soccer moms can muggy that with their own context of sexuality. That does annoy me, even though I do agree that we grow up, in the West, with a specific false image of women and sexuality, and it can be difficult for some people to look at something and not actually see it, but rather what they were indirectly taught to see; and I do think that does bleed over into other mediums and styles of art, and not just sexually but an innumerous standards and scopes.
We let this idea of what we think art is supposed to be misdirect us into misunderstanding and agitation, this best and most common example is when people complain about Actors having a political voice, “stick to acting and leave the opinions to...” I don’t know who, exactly: everybody else? Granted people who have a stage and voice that’s louder than others simply because of an art, I can understand the general frustration, but certain people don’t have a problem with Donald Trumps voice, and he was granted one simply for being rich.
Frankly, if you lack conviction enough to be worried about whether Angelina Jolie is going to sway your perspective than you have bigger problems than Angelina Jolie. So, I don’t know, it just seems most likely that the argument there isn’t with the platform as much as it is with the subject as it is with the motive, but now I’m veering a bit.
I don’t know, this column was kind of forced, I didn’t know what to write about today, and although I am passionate about the topic and artistically, I know my tone doesn’t exactly reflect that. My mind is elsewhere. Perhaps I’ll come back to this at some other date.