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21 March 2011 @ 08:20 pm
A semi-formed rant that will eventually blossom into full vitriol.  
In today's art history class, my teacher brought in one of her former students to talk to us about her life as an 'independent curator.' I'm calling her Ms. I, for Invisible, because I can't remember her name but she runs a website/online gallery/project space that may have had the word 'shadow' or 'invisible' in the title.

Ms. I is very into contemporary art, and uses the Pretentious Artist BullCrap Speech that so many people enjoy mocking. "Is it possible to show something (artwork) that is also nothing (conceptual, digital, ephemeral), everywhere (public spaces) and nowhere (online)?...Our project space endeavors to build community by wiring connections between artists and the public; we produce artist projects in site-specific installations and guerrilla interventions in public spaces." That's my paraphrased version of how she described her current project. Translation? "I bought a cheap house in a ghetto-ass neighborhood and let my friends screw around in the rooms on the bottom floor. Also, we illegally tag public buildings, but it's OK, because it's art."

Ever since artists moved away from the patronage system, the focus has moved less from what the audience might wants to see to what the artist wants to express. Most of my friends at school would regard this at a good thing; I don't. Just because an artist can create something doesn't make it good, okay? You can counter that arguement by saying the real art is in the 'creative process' and the work that goes into the piece, and not just the final result. Whatever. Regretsy is full of examples of why artists should not be rewarded for the mere act of creating. Ms. I was talking about how her artist friends would come to her house 'invisible space' and decorate the rooms by putting a TV in the closet and writing a moebius strip of personal ads on the wall. No joke. Or she'd rave about how a particularly creative individual planted grass on the floor of another room, carefully cutting the sod to simulate board planks, and then - get this! - put carpet down in the abandoned lot across the street. Ms. I was brimming with enthusiasm and joy, and all I could think was, "Really? Well, that's stupid." But she was so happy because people were creating! Making art! MAKING MAGIC!!!

(Maybe she didn't use the phrase 'making magic' but she might as well have.)

ANYWAY.
I guess I just don't get modern art, especially installation art, but apparently if you want to be an independent curator there's a lot of openings in that department, provided you don't need to make money for a living or don't mind writing catalogue entries from your rundown apartment in East Palo Alto or downtown Oakland.
 
 
 
the village idiot: smoke then and think of himfegie on March 25th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
I think you're being unfairly vitriolic towards something that you are admitting you don't fully understand. Yes, it is a problem that contemporary art especially is distanced from most people, based on the language used to describe it & how the work is executed. Some artists recognize & try to address this fact. But i'm sure that, if i went to a lecture where scientific jargon was used, or jargon that English majors & authors are more familiar with, it would have the same "pretentious bullshit" sound to it.

I also think it's unfair to say it's a bad thing that artists are focusing on what they want to express, as opposed to what the audience or patrons want to see. Any of the arts, first & foremost, is a form of expression. Many people in the arts have issues with the idea of patrons, because that can call their morals & integrity into question, depending on their outlook of things. And if people constantly worried about what a patron or audience wanted, there would be no evolution in any of the arts, & everything would start to become similar.

Just because an artist makes something under a patron doesn't necessarily make it good, either; it just means someone gave them money. And besides, the whole idea of what art is & what is "good" art depends on each individual. The fact that you don't see any of the things you've referenced as having much value doesn't mean that someone else might not be impacted positively by any of them.

And i don't see why you keep making jabs at where this person lives & what she's choosing to do with her house. The gallery system is very snobbish & clique-y, & oftentimes if you even manage to get represented by one, you have to become a slave to their & their clients' ideas of art & style, or else they can drop you. I see no problem with someone deciding to make their own space in what is a very difficult world to get into. All galleries have to start somewhere, & if she wants to start something in her house that just happens to not be in an upscale part of town, then why not? And why not feel happy & excited to see where it might go?

Ultimately, this is your journal where you can rant as you please, but this struck me because, as a visual art student, i do think you're being very unfair, just based off the fact that you don't seem like contemporary art. And i frankly think the comments of "ghetto-ass neighborhood" are uncalled for.
jeanniejeannietran on March 26th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
I don't like contemporary art either. It doesn't seem creative to me, just the most random things randomly thrown together with other random things. My floor is covered with clothes and other brik-a-brak - it's not art, it's a mess.
blackmage runs with daggers.: heiki da.ruien on March 26th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
I think the issue at hand is double-edged.

I agree with your disparage of "contemporary artists" so dime a dozen in the current climes, but I disagree that the genre has a complete lack of merit and place in our history and culture. I think... it's more like the difference between random losers goofing off on youtube thinking they're awesome, vs serious filmsters making decent webshows. This of course is not to say that all people on youtube who are not studio backed are losers, but rather to identify those who started out there-- you get the gist.

I actually think the pers ad and grass/carpet thing is a cool idea, thought-provoking, suitabily artistically pretentious, but it's the sort of thing that I'd admire as a concept, enjoy the artist's process because that's what conceptual art is about, i think, the process and the thought, and then roll my eyes at people who rave about how ingenious it is, particularly if it weren't executed well. To me, this sort of art is to be experienced, not talked about. If you are to talk about them, talk about your experience with it, not the creative genius of the person who threw it together; because fundamentally, that's the completely wrong angle to look at it.

I don't believe in art being what the artist intends to express. I believe in it being what the artist is expressing, and what the artist is connecting to. I think art is to be personally enjoyed and artists respected for being the creator, but not lauded simply for the act of creation, instead of WHAT they create.

That said, I think the thing that discourages me most about art these days is the complete lack of social responsibility. Art at the end of the day shouldn't be about the artist, it should be the artist's attempt to connect things, be it opening an audience's eyes to what the artist envisions, or emphasizing a point or condition. Success is not having created, but having successfully shown the world something grand and something important; whether you meant to or not.