Amongst all my bitching and moaning about the difficulties of securing the future of my short stint in the middle class through academia, I have still paid at least some lip service to looking for good art. Albeit, yeah, that it’s mostly looking for images of good art on the internet.
The things I’ve found and the reality that my own studio practice is only living via the tubes and machines it’s hooked up to, so to speak, has me wondering, “how do you make art for people?” (and who the hell wants to see it anyway?) So on and so on with the trope of “making art for yourself”. Making art that you like is fulfilling, period. If art doesn’t communicate and serve some viewer, it’s masturbatory.
Let me illustrate:
Kenji Fujita & Nancy Shaver – Untitled Collaboration
Glommed from Anaba, a collaborative installation, some hybrid of an office tower and a sailboat, on wheels, made from cardboard and bricks or something. (Way to transcend materials…) This, in a space where almost no one will see it. It raises one question: if it’s a collaboration, is it still masturbation?
I also found this:
“Graffiti” from around the world
I collected these images into one file from those that I found at Placebokatz.
OK, so as a model, these things won’t solve my other problem of securing an income. But how different are these from the cardboard cut-outs above? I enjoy the curiosity and very different elements of humanity in each one. I also enjoy wondering what each says about the place it’s in, in it’s own way. Places to live, cultures revealing themselves, artists sharing their visions…
Contrast with this:
Odili Doanld Odita – Equalizer
These images via Artblog. I’ll quote, “Odili states that Equalizer represents the displacement of Africans to the United States and their life as African-Americans.”
Um, what? Unlike the first example, I’m visually attracted to these. I’d like to see them. The wall on the bottom right reminds me of large scale works by Francis Picabia. The red wall must be optically compelling in person. But, but… whatever means connects these abstractions with “the displacement of Africans” must be so esoteric or so abstruse as to not really exist. We can read a statement, or maybe be lucky enough to talk to the artist – and then learn things that allow us to bring his own thoughts to our understanding of his work. However, my suspicion is that almost all people will bring individual experiences to this work that will lead us to find something entirely different than what the artist intended. We may enjoy it – in this case though, Odita’s art is not for other people, but remains mostly within himself.
Finally, compare to this:
Roger Shimomura – Minidoka on my Mind
This from We Make Money Not Art.
So, I’ve been a fan of Shimomura’s work for some time. I find this painting to be visually attractive, intelligent, broadly informed, a pointed commentary, and easily understandable all at the same time. For me, that’s a recipe for good art. All people in this country should know about WWII internment camps in the U.S. Most art-going audiences should also be somewhat familiar with the forms and spacial constructions of Japanese painted screens. Everyone should also be able to conjure up some reference through the title to Ray Charles, if not also Hank Williams. All that and a fresh, biographically informed perspective on a controversial yet often forgotten chapter in American History.
Alas, just to get out and participate in these things beyond the internet.