Friday, May 1, 2015

individual expression, part 2

Visual art has the misfortune of being both instantly culturally significant and out of reach for most people.  It is confusing to be an artist involved in production of images and objects that are simultaneously accepted as having cultural value and not representing the culture that they are apart of by the value of the market associated with the work as products and commodities and the perception of esoteric or hermetic subject matter.  Of course, artists are accepted within their field and do not have to deal with this precarious relationship as much in galleries, museums, and other institutions and people associated with visual art (and the art world--though Ben Davis has made me consider this term more and want to use it sparingly).  

As artists and the ones producing art work, we are seen as both "talented" and "skilled" for the work that we make but should be limited in how we talk about the work, or the work is our primary mode of communication and gallerists, collectors, curators, and critics have authority to talk about the work.

This is, of course, not true for all non-artists working in the field and there are very many that are true supporters of individual artists.  There is something about this relationship and history that has put artists at a disadvantage, though--when it is acceptable for artists to only rely on what their work looks like and rely on that to fully communicate their ideas, their work, and the context of both, I worry about artists' ability to represent themselves and one another as a group.

The inverse of this, of course, is the mindless buzzword talk of certain artists--talk that often seems to come from a place of insecurity.  I'm sure it seems idealistic to state, but what I'm talking about is an honesty and earnestness in communicating and contextualizing ones own artwork, including owning up to parts which we don't have figured out yet.  It is a great misfortune to speak about ones work as though everything is figured out or solved--anyone who spends time in the studio knows that it is self-doubt, questioning, and internal dialectics that make us return to the studio, over and over again.
We loose some of this when we allow non-artists to talk for us in a way that does not encourage and include dialogue.  Enough of the position that artists shouldn't talk about their work--the history of that is born from times when art was produced out of patronage or for churches and assumes that each piece is a perfect and complete piece in and of itself (individual expression, again).  People who take the position that they can speak with authority about a work without including a dialogue or listening to the artist is not truly supporting artists but has another agenda in mind.

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