Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Art. Is it really? What is? and How? and Why?

What is art? Is it a piece of blue tack stuck on a wall; or an unmade bed; or a cabin transported into a gallery from it's original location? It so happens that all of them are art. Well they were pieces by artists and shown in galleries. Is that then what defines art? Someone who's been labelled an artist? Who gave him/her the label? I like to refer to myself as an artist, and although i have shown work in galleries, and have been referred to as an artist, I know that there are enough people out there who would beg to differ. Yes, of course anyone can stick blue tack on a wall and spend hours getting people to place one piece of blue tack in the "right' position on the wall, or stick an unmade bed into a gallery, or even get people to move a cabin from a beach to a gallery....but there are only a few people doing it... and even if you did, what would be your reason for doing it? Would you have one? Was the cabin still art when the artist saw it on the beach or did it become art only when she transported it into the gallery? The unmade bed was considered beautiful to some and grotesque to others. Well I think the grotesque bit was not the unmade bed but the snot filled pieces of tissue paper scattered all around....and did she take the bed back to sleep on or buy herself another one? If it meant so much to her that she could put it in a gallery then surely she would want it back? But then if she did want it back, it's not really art is it? You have to put art out there and let it grow. How can it grow if you put it right back where it started?! At a family get together once, (I think it was the year Damien Hirst was showing dead cows and was later nominated for the turner prize) my aunt was absolutely appalled, "Picasso must be rolling over in his grave!" she exclaimed. "No it's what he would be doing if he were alive!" she was told. Art moves. It grows. It has to be allowed to breathe. You might disapporove of some art and like others, but you have to stop and understand where the artist is coming from. It's not for you or me to decide what art is....it's not for anybody to decide what makes art.....if it asks a question and gets you to think, even if it gets you to hate it....it's a job accomplished.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"Unappreciation" of the art film

Has the history of narrative cinema denied us the pleasure of seeing things as they are? I'm beginning to believe that with the absence of the "glitz and gloss" of narrative cinema we are starting to undermine our own capabilities of seeing things for what they are. Is it really that people find art films boring? Or are they just scared of letting themselves go into a world where you're left to your own devices and conclusions? Art films don't set out to do, or say anything in particular. Various things happen....and the expectation of that one particular thing to happen never gets fulfilled. They provide no answers to what one might understand as the principle question. They don't try to engage us with conversation and we never really find out anything about the characters in the film (if there are any). Ideas and images are thrown together to tell a story....and only a story....the conversations never come alive and neither do the characters....you never enter their world.....you can watch from afar....and take what you like and leave what you don't understand. That's the joy of it! You don't have to understand. You just watch and appreciate things for what they are. Have we gotten so used to the ideas of clear cut narratives where there exists a security of a plot and illusion, characters and situations that can be followed, and emotions that can be shared, that the idea of just looking at something for what it is without putting it into a greater perspective is lost? Are situations and images not able to stand on their own without standing out? The feeling of security that one gets from narratives is a lot more. Of course it is, they provide us with emotional resolutions and final endings. But their endings are so absolute, that it feels almost as if they were taking possesion of the world with their final endings. And with the knowledge that the world is not absolute and it isn't actually possible to take possesion of the world, why aren't we able to overlook the narrative structure? Is it a history we can't let go of? Or do we just always need to identify with something?

"Life's not meant to be"

Someone said that to me and I coudln't help but wonder if it was a "trying to be smart" comeback for what I had said to her just before that comment was sparked or whether she truly believed it. The fact is, that life is exactly the way it's meant to be, because at any given time, we've all made decisons, and those decisions were the reasons we're here for 'here and now'. I'm not syaing that 'here and now' embodies the entire essence of life. It doesn't! But it does most definitely play a major role in the future, because futures are made of a number of pasts and life is made up of all our pasts and futures. So for all the times you've sat moping about how life isn't going your way, you might want to retrace your steps. You'll find, as I have, that at some point, you made a conscious decision to do something, which led to a chain of events that landed you in this spot in time. So really, it's perfectly plain. "You pay for your sins in this lifetime," they say. And consequences have led me to believe that it holds true. So every decision you make and every step you take in life has it's consequences. Fair or not is arguable....but meant to be?! Well clearly you put yourself in it ... by whatever means ... so yes it is meant to be!