what is art why is it so complicated who cares
On the floor above me in the gallery in which I work is a show that is nearly primitive in style. It features heavy violent colors, shades of deep red and orange, thick black figures with large phalluses dangling almost threateningly as the figures move off the canvas in the viewer's direction. It's a blunt object of a show, a club with which the audience is being beaten. And I like it. If this is a beating, I am a ready receiver, in the style of dominatrix and inferior. But there are many who would disagree, large black figures (not African-American, Moroccan, Haitian, any sort of ethnicity, it's the black of road tar, black silhouettes) with looming twigs 'n' berries is not art at all. Those favorite words of God-fearing authority that they love to mutter on national television would be mentioned: "graphic", "disturbing", "offensive", "inappropriate", "outrageous", "volatile", and "violent". But there's always that faithful mention of the question "What message will this send our children?" Hey, it'll send the message that we dig pretty bangin' art, radical and free-thinking, 'cos kids love penises and things that make their parents squirm in their pressed suits and dresses. Anything that makes your momma go, "this is not suitable for someone your age," and snatch it away, you become a heat-seekin' missile, seekin' out those inappropriate goodies. Everybody loves trying dangerous things, and what is more dangerous than art? And art is possibly the most difficult and beautiful thing I have ever come across in my few bumbling years of living, because there can't ever be a solid definition of just what is art. I consider the canvasses hung in the gallery, dark and moving, to be art. I have considered silicone writing on wide canvas banners that quote Keats and speak of anilingus to be art, and I have seen exhibits in museums to be bland and devoid of emotion, not of my beautiful art at all. Of course, art is as much up for interpretation as anything else, it is not limited to the canvas, to the paper, it is in rivers and valleys and faces and bodies and spilled out on streets, freeways, laying dying somewhere in old folks' homes and hospitals. Art is even in CHURCHES, and you may think, what in the G.D. Hell is our beautiful effort doing in a house of a petty guy who lives in the clouds? Well, art is never limited, even the close-minded and horrible can create it, and sometimes they do the best of it. Art takes incredible emotion, it has to evoke an emotion and the worst thing someone can say about your art is that it is boring, that it had no imprint, left no mark on them in the slightest little dusting. If some good ol' Christian boy with a predilection for screwing up politics gets up on the word box and mumbles those great and powerful words we listed before, dabbin' at his forehead with a handkerchief talkin' 'bout that dang ol' negative effect on the kids, you should be proud. 'Cos if he don't like it, kids love it. That is why I'm happy to pass by these charcoal black penises everyday to work; someone somewhere is wriggling around in their seat, kneading their brow, trying to make sense of the whole thing and not getting it at all, left with a feeling of disturbance and uncomfortableness. Ain't that great! At the same good ol' time, someone else is rubbing their hands together with glee, happy to have found such a provocative and meaningful exhibit that spoke to them, possibly even inspired them to go further than the mental world and put it out into the real world in front of them. That's why I love art. Some people really get it and some never will. Either way, there's crudely drawn penises and that's always a good thing.
Posted by MIP