January 9, 2013 by musehick
I find it a strange phenomenon that those who most wish to codify some idea of what art is and what’s its purpose might be fall into the trap of limiting art’s scope and excluding those who would quite happily have thought of themselves as artists were no one to have intruded into their thinking and told them otherwise.
There is nothing wrong with sharing a personal vision for art and its role in society but one must be careful not to construct a box that is so rigid that it can never be changed and never grow to encompass something beyond what might be considered its initial remit.
I do not know if I fully subscribe to the idea that something is art just because the artist says it is, but if there is something that is presented in a way that has some aesthetic value (as judged by anyone from the artist to the audience) then I am willing to have a conversation both with the artist and that piece of art. Something that someone has put creativity into deserves the consideration any effort merits – it deserves not to be dismissed out of hand and belittled.
If there is a point being made by a piece of work that the consumer does not agree with and this prevents any enjoyment or appreciation of the work, does that therefore suggest that there is no merit in the work? I would like to suggest that it doesn’t. There may be pieces of work that have no effect upon me but someone else may find it to be the most wonderful exemplar of everything that they consider necessary in a piece of art. Is either of us wrong? Can two opposing views exist about a piece of work and both be valid? I would like to think that that is true.
When I talk about my opinion of what I consider art to be, I understand that I am bringing the unique perspective that I have built up over years of consumption and choice-making that have led to a certain criteria that I use to make a decision over whether or not I like something. I do not ever presume to talk for every person and make proclamation about what is valid and what is not. I think it preferable to persuade and suggest, rather than didactically force my opinion on someone else. Does this mean that I am weak on my position or that I do not passionately believe in what I consider to be art? No, it does not … but if I am unable to have a debate about art then I am unable to learn about art, and if I stop myself from being able to learn about art, how can I ever know anything about it? I would make myself an ignorant and hidebound person, and that is not something I am willing to do, because that is antithetical to being an artist, and that is what I consider myself to be.