Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Art the wrong term?

I have just come back from the Galway Arts Centre's exhibit of Dan Shipsides & Neil Beggs installation. The installation is said to have used Matthew Barney's "Drawing Restraint 14" as the inspiration for this work. The GAC website states " The piece examines the obstacle as a metaphor and suggests that its presence is intrinsic to the creation of an artwork." After seeing the installation my question is not about whether the obstacle is intrinsic to the creation of an artwork. But whether this installation is Art.

Installation shots: Dan Shipsides & Neal Beggs
Does our language limit us? Are installations such as this wrongly labeled? Is it art? If it isn't, then what is it? Because its in a Gallery is that the determining factor? Should we look for a new term, a new word to describe these constructions, these performances, these events? Has the practises of today outgrown the original term? What is Art? Well, thats a big question, and hard to nail down.
For al intents and purposes Wikipedia will work in a pinch for our description.

"Art is the process or product of deliberately and creatively arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions."
or this by britannica online
"the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others"
for me the key word here is aesthetic. Art needs a foundation of aesthetic appeal. Even the Ugly-realism of the 70's is relevant because for me it responding to the desire for the aesthetic in art.
So is this installation, art? or does it fall under a yet to be created term? Why is it art? Is it time to hammer out the parameters of what art is? To stoically say yes, that this over here is art and no, that over there is not. What are we trying to do through art? But then again maybe its the term Art that needs to be changed. Maybe ART is outdated, old, redundant.
Well, I can't answer that. I often find that I am contradicting myself. I fool myself into thinking, Ok, I got it. Here is what is going on, only to find myself confronted by something that confounds me.
But art is most certainly not a static thing, and it becomes boring without those that push its boundaries. I often find myself as an artist defending the works of those in my field. And to be honest, sometimes I have no idea what is going on. I sometimes fail to answer the question, is it art? and if so why? I enjoy challenging work, work that engages the viewer. Work that sometimes demands the viewer take some more time with it. I will often go back to exhibits to have a second or third look. Give the exhibit that extra bit of time. Possibly even to change the context in which I am viewing it. See the work in different experiences. I want the work to affect me, to move me, question my established preconceived notions even. But there are times when I walk into a gallery and think. "Shit, what the hell is this"
The wonderful thing about art is it can cover so much ground. An artwork can be simply a visually appealing and engaging work or at other times more challenging, not relying strictly to an aesthetic response. It can be witty, cerebral, politically charged, socially relevant all of these things or none of them. So does the Shipsides/Beggs show fall into these concepts? Sure, at times. As a whole though I question whether we should be calling it something other than Art?


Michael 6:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael 6:31 AM  

... nevermind. I put an "r" in there which had no reason to exist. So I wiped it from the face of this reality!

Some very deep questions indeed... and art, for me, is such a gray area. Or maroon. One beings "art" is another beings "something else", I suppose. The nature of that beast is very difficult to define. For me.

What are the "bits" on the wall supposed to be?

michael byers 6:49 AM  

I agree with this Michael. Those are very profound questions. When they are brought up, it seems to usually be when there's an exhibit of questionability to it. That gentlman, Damien Hurst comes to mind. Is that art? I'm talking about animals in those glass containers of formeldihyde. Isn't that just science? Is science art? I feel like art is one of the most gray, subjective areas of life we have. Almost as much as religion although that's an entirely new blog altogether. Maybe like religion, the questions you posed are to remain unanswered. Who knows? I certainly don't.

Yeah and what are those bits on the wall?

Simon Fleming 7:23 AM  

The "bits" are holes in the wall. They were hammered into the wall by the artists. They are there so the artists can free climb around the room. The walls are actualy concrete. I think it will be quite a bit of work to patch them up.