I read through Art Papers today, and here is some of what I read about…
This magazine is from 2011, so all the art shows in it are quite old. Though they have really cool advertisements for different performance pieces, paintings and one that really caught my eye, about “race and racism in contemporary Cuban art”. Which I am half Cuban and I completely know how Cubans can be racist. I don’t think they really mean to be, but it is just how they are used to talking about diversity and such.
Some of the articles were interesting as well. They are just telling about what is going on in the art world. There was one article about the author’s friend who is a great artist who was chosen to participate in this show on Bravo called Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. The author talks about the incentive to watching it being her friend, because she thinks that you should not mix the values of the art world with the hollywoodization of reality television. She talks about how she thought it would take away from the aspect of art that is very down to earth and raw. The message within art would be lost in this battle for excellence. The author states, “The treatment of artistic practices as a competitive sport with very strict rules instrumentalizes creative energy and reaps it of its more gratifying, liberating potential.” This is true. In this modern world we try and make everything into entertainment. Though this takes away from the individual value of it a lot of the time, and just projects it as only an aspect of Hollywood. It is exploitation.
This is kind of the theme that I wanted to get at within my Collection Project. How modernization destroys the culture of different things. What is progression? We are progressing in a sense though we are not keeping a balance between both naturalism and modernism. One is always trying to be better than the other. Which it needs to be realized that they are both equally important in our society. What we need to be searching for is an equality between the two. They both hold their importance, and conflict between them both is harmful to life of everything.
I guess I went off on a tangent, but I believe that art is able to do a completely different thing for society than entertainment and the modern way. It contradicts our progression and helps to restore our consciousness over issues that may be covered up in a lot of ways. So placing it on television in a competition is taking away those aspects of art. We are losing our sense of balance and stability. Art is dumbed down.
Today I read about Alyse Emdur’s photography project with prisoners, in the magazine Art Papers. She has had prisoners take photographs of themselves in front of painted, romanticized scenes and send them to her. They show the prisoner within a space of calm much different from the reality I am sure. Emdur became pen pals with many of them learned their stories and then decided to start this project.
It started with her as a young girl, going to visit someone (it did not say) in prison, and taking a photo in front of this tropical looking scene with her brother. It becomes a comment about how she felt when she visited, these photos almost glossing over the emotions of the experience. A lot of these photos of the prisoners were to be sent to their children and loved ones, if only to let them be seen as they are remembered.
Although this has the message of freedom, they still are paintings done on the walls of a prison. This shows how this scene, this happiness, is only a mirage and they are still being confined and controlled by the law. I think that it as well comments on society and how we can feel free, but we are still held to certain standards that are limiting to us being fully free. We are confined with the power of “the norm”. Even the most original and eccentric people in one way or another become just a piece of what society is, or goes against.
For instance you cannot be different without being thought of as strange, stupid or insane. A person going in a completely different direction than “the norm”, is still defined by it. Because we are all held up to this type of confinement, we are never going to be truly free. We have to get rid of this notion of what is accepted and normal. Because even the slightest differences can be taken extremely precociously by the parts of society that follow this normality with vigilance.
This artistic couple creates live performances that stem from “the depths of painful experiences,” while exploring “the cathartic nature of art.” Together they explore different movements and sounds to dive deep into their experiences of racism. Mwangi moved to Germany when she was 16 and experienced being the minority. Being half German and half Kenyan, she has struggled with her own identity as well as perceptions from others of her. In one of her project called “Neger Don’t Call Me” she intelligently set up speakers at different sides of the rooms which symbolized her unease with which voices to follow. It represents her going back and forth, and battling with different feelings of resentment.
2005 is when Mwangi performed a piece in Nairobi where she stood out on the streets and started singing. People stopped and listened to her beautiful voice in awe. Though soon after she started moaning out in agony and people fled away out of discomfort. This duo’s performances are about the crowds response. It is how society interacts in different situations and how they empathize or not with the pain of others.and Hutter collaborated. Her art that was autobiographical is now their experiences to wider spread concerns.
Hutter himself, who is a white European, did a piece where he enclosed himself in a barbwire fence in Johannesburg. He put patches over his eyes, shaved his head and took off his shirt. He then put his hair into small plastic bags, offering it to his spectators. Then he gave them a pen and squatted on the ground ready to be drawn on. The audience after a while started coming up to him mostly drawing their names or pictures. Though some wrote things like “AFRICA, FREE and KILLER.” This is a way of giving the chance for the white man to be disgraced for his intrusion on this land. It is a way for the audience to express their feelings without “judgement or recrimination.”
Their art is not easy to watch, torture is not easy to watch. It brings up emotion that is uncomfortable and scary. What we are scared of will always be scary unless we confront it. We cannot change if we move farther from our fears. Facing them is what changes us. We cannot help the world be better unless we become at peace with ourselves first. Their art, it is raw in the sense that the feelings the audience has in response is completely truthful. This truth unlocks our “opportunity for growth, change and even transcendence.”
Why I am writing on this article is mostly for the photo itself. And I will admit to that because this class is about what compels and inspires you visually. But I do have something to say about the photographer. I have been looking at his photos and videos for about an hour now, and my conclusion is: beautiful visuals though I do not think this guy has very much depth. He is kind of like that person who creates only to be famous or something. I don’t know maybe I am wrong though I was reading his blog and looking through his portfolio, and he doesn’t comment much on the point of his art. Even the article I read about him was critical of his lack of soul and passion.
His motives seem superficial to me. He pretty much only photographs celebrities and his gorgeous girlfriend. They are usually making out or holding a gun up to someone else. I would be fine with it only if he let us know why he was creating these images. Maybe the article I read was a little biased saying that he used celebrities to get his name out there, and only showing arrogant and vapid quotes said by him. Though his own blog sounded the same. Kind of like a regular Hollywood guy, trying to sound profound and knowledgeable about emotion and life, though really just comes off as an idiot acting like he knows everything. He also had a lot of misspellings on his blog, which I could have too but I feel like if you are reaching a bigger audience than myself, you should really get those kinds of things in check.
Now I am probably being too critical. I have not read everything about him or been tracking him for too long. I will give him credit for knowing how to get an audience interested. I, like a lot of people, get distracted and pulled into the celebrity black hole of doom that you never are able to return from. I don’t like to admit it, because I think it is not a real place to live in, though whatever it happens. I think he also has a lot of fun and is somewhat creative with his pieces.
I wonder though just because you are well-known and even loved by many for what you do, does that still make your work important or thought-provoking? NO… My uncle graduated from SCAD a couple of years ago and his thesis was on how art today can have so much less meaning to it and still be considered great art. I think this is just adding to the stupidity that this world is progressing towards. This art is just something to look at. It is not here to delve into and dissect until it becomes completely exposed. The public then is learning not to think. This is lazy and I guess can confirm the stereotypes of what the rest of the world thinks of this country. We leave it up to a certain few to do the thinking and then get upset over the results.
Anyways his art is pretty, I just have a hard time looking at it without any introspects into what he is thinking. This is probably after having so many art classes that I am not able to just be satisfied with something to glance at and be done with it. I would definitely go and see his art show though if he came to Atlanta. And I would give him the benefit of the doubt and listen to what he has to say about his process and outcome. Wow I had a lot to say about him. If I am going to give him this amount of energy than I guess he made an impact in some way. Bravo! In those regards.
The Camera Obscura Project
This project is collaboration of the creative ideas of kids as young as 4 from different parts of Cincinnati. The coordinator of this project David Rosenthal got a hold of a mobile camera obscura and let the children play around with different images. It is about them being able to express their ideas and feelings in constructive ways. The pictures come out in a hazy quality. They even added some other mix of medias, such as magazine clippings, crepe paper, paint, marker and photos documenting the shoot. The themes that the kids display are of love, hope and inspiration. They write about what makes them who they are and about their lives and struggles. One quote that expresses the ever-changing ways of growing up and the complete originality of oneself is, “I am from being hyper, and messing with my hair, from being called chunky to being called beautiful”.
The need to express oneself is very much lost within our society. A lot of times we follow in what society expects from us. It can really be a burden not ever fully being comfortable in yourself. Allowing the world or even just a subtle few see who you truly are, can allow one to feel some relief in their identity. In the article it says that the project is helping the community. It is definitely aiding in the self-esteem of the children. As well others in the community can appreciate this self acceptance and use it the influence for their own beings.
Again I can talk about radicalism. Going against the norms of how society oppresses us is a way to be radical. We are not only standing up for ourselves but are braking the restraints on everyone as a whole. People are too concerned with fitting in. Why not stand out more? Allow yourself peace by any kind of creativity or self-expression. A person’s sanity is important. The best way to keep our sanity is to act completely insane.
Controversial Ways of Art
Last semester in my Sociology class, we watched a very controversial video of an artist in black face. This artist is Swedish and made a cake that was supposed to be a replica of the Venus of Willendorf laying on the table and his head painted at the top of the body. He is wailing out in pain while guest after guest cut into the cake’s vagina and showing the inside of red velvet, I am assuming. This depicts the vaginal mutilation that is still practiced within some of Africa.
This cake was made for The World Art Day in Stockholm. It was also a competition of sorts to see which artist could create the most vivid cake. Many of the women in the room are smiling and either find it humorous or are so uncomfortable they do not know how to react. When we all watched this together in class everyone in the room was incredibly disturbed. Including me, though I thought we should give the artist a chance to explain his mind-set over creating this work.
Makode Linde, the artist, said that this was an expression of himself. He has a white mother and a black father. People want to categorize him all the time, so he goes against this and creates a stereotype that gets a rise in everyone who witnesses his art. The point of art is to create controversy in my opinion, and he did this to the extreme. Now they are talking about this piece all around the world. If there is controversy this creates passion of opinion. This passion of opinion at first seems to separate people away from one another though it also can deliver progressive effects. At least through this piece people can see the extremity and awfulness of the issue. More people now know about it now as well. Linde is content with the amount of recognition it has attained.
This brings me back to the subject of radicalism. It is so important. Us in the Western culture believe that there is no need for being radical, at least within our society. Though this falsity of thinking that we have, is equally disturbing as violence that is happening around the world. Our politics in this country are seriously deluded and arrogant off their asses. If we believe we are the best, this leaves no room for consideration that another culture, way of thinking, may be right. Then we are living in this land that is full of widespread close mindedness and stupidity. Our society is drowning just as much as the next.
I hope that by feeling uncomfortable from intense topics depicted in art, people can learn to see the bigger picture outside of themselves. We should learn to praise artists such as Linde for being radical and disproving the bullshit.
The New Realism
I read this article in Art in America, though it was not about American artists in the United States. It was about the extreme ways artists are fighting against political oppression and corrupt governments. They are able to reach a global audience by internet. This makes their artwork really heard and recognizable by many. The few that were profiled were from Egypt, Russia and Mexico. Their art is very public and violates not only political conventions but artistic conventions as well. Ganzeer, from Egypt, paints political figures and violence in murals on the sides of walls in less than flattering situations. Teresa Margolles works with the atrocious effects of global poverty, violence, social and political disenfranchisement. An artistic group from Russia called “Voina”, stage radical and provocative displays against the ruling of Putin and his ruling.
This article made me think of Jenny Holzer and how she is displaying her art in the public’s eye. How there are many artists doing this because they want their art to make a real statement among society. It brings uncomfortable issues to the forefront and pressures the audience to address the issues in their society. As well do something radical as well and stand up for what they believe in. The many peasants are far more powerful than the few leaders.
Thinking about artist conventions, I cannot determine what they are anymore. Also will there always be problems within the world that can be addressed through artists? Or what will artists do if everything is perfect and
happy? I did already learn this lesson over and over again, that perfection does not exist though, what is art without a injustice behind it? I definitely want to do something radical though. All this gets me really motivated to go out and cause chaos.