Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Excerpt from second paper

I'm not going to post to the whole paper but thought I'd give you some highlights. The book is called The Reenchantment of Art, by Suzi Gablik.

I like Gablik, she's a succinct and articulate writer. I've found it much harder to write on what I agree with than what I disagree with; here's a snippet of those five pages.

The Role of Art
“The source of creativity in society is the person”, says Gablik. She deftly reminds us of our authority. Art does have power to access and move forward new values and beliefs. “We have the power. The truth is, only we have the power to transform our situation; there is no one else.” I would add to this, all of our power lies is in the present moment. It is this moment where our power to change, is accessed. The action of change can only be through the present moment.

The late modernist premise states art has no useful, purposeful or meaningful role. It is disavowed of all responsibilities which effectively neutralizes value art has to offer. Art immersed in disconnected sensations difusses the power of art into a downward spiral of depair, apathy and self indulence. This western nihlistic attitute toward art and life in general is inevitable, if one believes in the postmodern ideals.

In purposeless detachment defined in Zen in the Art of Archery, purposeless serves the individual as it facilitates the experience of the illusion, of a separate ego or self. The illusion of a separate self dissolves and a knowing of interconnectedness is experienced. Meaninglessness and purposelessness transcends to become meaningful and purposeful.

In one instance purposelessness is destructive and in another, creative. Art has a dualistic nature as process and product. Processes are neither useful nor useless, they simply are. The product of art is where we assign art its value.

Is it easier to say that art is useless rather than define its purpose? Does it come down to a subjective experience justified by an assortment of philosophy? What is art? Is it a vehicle for biocentric ecology, social justice, or aesthetic personal experience? Maybe it is easier to define what art is not.

When I was a child, it was my habit to go off into the woods and “play”. I remember going out to a small stream that had garbage in it. I spent time hauling away old tires, cans and broken bottles from the stream. I couldn’t clean it all out and didn’t know where to put the garbage I took from the stream. It had to come out and it was all right to be able to just clean out a section of it. I remember feeling like it was my stream and I wanted to see it without garbage in it. I remember organizing neighborhood kids to help. No one told me to do this nor was it written up in the New York Times Art section. The garbage offended my sense of aesthetics and moral values I had developed as an eight years old. Gablik suggests that cleaning out a riverbed is art. I disagree; I was cleaning up a mess, not making art.

Is a clean river beautiful? Yes, but the river turns back into its original state, and does not add to, or move forward knowledge of ourselves or the river.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Richard Serra at the MoMa

Looking at Serra's work from the second floor of the MoMa was very different than being in the actual space the sculpture occupied. The massive walls of the piece, created simple minimalist curving flowing lines, that from above I found pleasant, calming almost meditative.

All that changed drastically when I went downstairs to experience the space of the sculpture. My first reaction was, Good God! I hope those steel thick walls don't fall on me! I could feel the crushing weight of the material just by looking at it. I felt liquid and insignificant just being so near those walls. They were so solid and the shear amount of mass was incredibly intimidating. I felt so distinctly small and vulnerable as I walked around the work. I tried to keep my distance; it was increasingly distressing where the walls sloped outward from the center of the piece as they created overhangs that you had to walk under. The exterior walls were not as intimidating when the walls sloped in on themselves, they provided some relief from the anxiety of the overhangs.

The patina of the steel walls was a simple matte red brown rust that varied subtly on the surface. I was more comfortable with the smaller interior bowls of space the massive walls created. Groups of 10 to 12 people wandered in and out of those enclosed spaces. Inside felt like containment with one entrance functioning also as the exit.