Monday, April 05, 2010
Some Answers, Some Questions
In Maine, where I spend most of the year, painting is still the gold standard. In New York, the ARTSEEN editors at The Brooklyn Rail write that followers of post-modern theory have created "a ghetto into which painting, drawing and sculpture, along with certain kinds of film and photography have been driven, the door locked and the key thrown away." Personally, I like a balance between content and form, and in thinking about why both are important, have come up with some answers:
Art is an object. Art has no physical form.
Art is presented in special places. Art is everywhere we look.
Art is made by talented people. Art is made by everyone.
Art exists in a vacuum. Art exists in the interaction between the object and the viewer.
Art is the interaction between participants.
There is no message without a sender.
There is no message without a receiver.
Art is always static. Art is always moving.
And then some questions:
Where does art start and where does it stop? What is the vantage point from which art can be seen, practiced and acted on? When is an artist not an artist? Questions of permanence/ephemerality and of commercial value are secondary to the consideration that art is a noun for which there is no verb. The verb is "to make." If I jump on a pedestal and proclaim myself an artist - that's art. If I put a pile of sofas in the middle of Second Avenue and sit there - yes, I am an artist. What makes the sardine packer different from the canner of s***? The difference lies in the ability of the artist (in this case Manzoni) to take a concept, that of putting something edible into a can, and twist the concept for his own purposes, whatever those may be. The art lies in the transfiguration of action into idea into objectification, the creation of the moebius strip that unifies the three.