Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I am growing increasingly uninterested in this word. Failing galleries, the lack of viable economic models for visual art, public arts legislation, debates, subsidies, bland blind support parading as criticism, post-modern subjectivity, endless pleas and demands for funding, accumulations of deadly art, silence, cliques, cliches, intentional social awkwardness as beguiling mystery, all these things make me think that maybe this word describes something that just maybe ought to not exist anymore.

An art that requires funding from governments or grants is an utterly clueless art that should be starved.

An art focused on the distinction or boundaries of High Art vs Low Art, Art vs Anti-Art, even if it seeks to blur or destroy those distinctions and boundaries is a self-indulgent art that should be ignored.

An art that says nothing more than "i like the idea of being an artist" is a deadly art that must be buried.

An art that plays it safe and panders to it's audience is a useless art that should be discarded.

An art reliant on irony, nostalgia, or anything short of earnestness is a disgusting art that must be stamped out.

A society or culture that relies upon any of these arts, deserves none.

A society or culture with no art ceases to exist.

The degree to which our culture relies on these forms of art, is the degree to which our culture deserves to cease.

The definition of this word is profoundly problematic, to the point that we probably should stop using it. If a refined play or a symphony is art but a blockbuster movie or rock concert is not, then the art/not art definition comes from economic practices, not forms content or genres. The symphony is art because it is paid for by patrons or governments. The rock concert is not because it is paid for by tickets and merch sales. If art is art because it relies on an obsolete economic form, then fuck art. I want no part of it.

Even if we consider blockbusters and proceniums as both being art, we still must pay attention to these economic forms. We'll notice a historical progression of these economic forms. From fuedal patronage to capitalist commodity production to an undefined future, some kind of post-capitalist communisation. This is what the grant-begging art world is utterly, stupidly clueless of. Art must live in the future. To rely on commodity production when the world will soon run on communisation is merely dense, but to rely on patronage when the world runs on commodity production is idiotic.

Artists must seek the new economic forms. We must find out how to live communisation, and do our part to create a post-capitalist world. In the meantime, compromises are acceptable, but to rely on and demand patronage? That is starvation-worthy.


Trey said...

Art attempts to suggest a universal theme often of the present. This is a form of communication, fundamental to human awareness. In attempting to communicate 'artist-icly' we as humans reach beyond our condition into a more direct communication, ideally ascending this feeble human language. Any attempt should be considered practice, and all practice can be validated.

Ben Turk (formerly known as Rex Winsome) said...

Trey, thanks for your views...

I have an issue with the concept of "universal themes" I think human potentials are radically diverse and constantly dynamic. Everything is flux. Universal statements tend to be either generically obvious (ie: "we breathe oxygen") or false (ie: "all you need is love") and restraining (ie: "every woman keeps a secret")

As far as more direct communication, i can share this goal, and recognize the validity of practice. But given that the human condition includes scarcity, the excessive practice of old forms that have failed and fail again comes at the expense of exploring new (or at least newer) forms.

In such a situation increasing the practice of old forms and decreasing the practice of new forms is detrimental to progress and expansion of communication or human awareness, and cannot be considered valid. This is the orgin of my complaints.

Anonymous said...

Rarely does art communicate anything other than commodity form. Let's communicate something different.

The problem is that any criticism of art or dialog, tends to be seen as art as well (within the logic of opposition defined by its opposite).