Thursday, 6 March 2014

Assignment 1: Follow up questions

Based on my answers for the 1st assignment someone on the course (the fantastic Marlio) had some follow up questions for me, so here they are.

– Do you think the Barbara Kruger's art work could also be applied to other political situations, for example, other gender, race or political oppressed minorities?

Yes Kruger’s work can definitely be applied to other political issues such as gender, race or other oppressed minorities. My reading of the image was based on what political issues are important to me therefore, I applied/projected my politics onto the image. I would expect  people of different races, genders or sexuality to read the image in a different way in accordance to their own politics. All art means different things to different people due to their own cultural influences and social status, anyone who is oppressed in some way would probably see the image as one of protest but a CEO of a huge company who has never struggled a day in their life may read it as an image of power. The impact or power of art depends completely on the experiences and influences of the beholder. The artist may have had their own politics in mind when creating the work but once put in the public domain the meaning/reading of the work is no longer in their control and is places entirely in the hands of the public.

– Can you find a piece of art work that would serve as example for the question what you think people in the world think art should be?

Because I identify so much with the idea of the value of art being determined by the individual, I really struggle with the generalisation of ‘people in the world’, what art should be to one person might be the most ugliest art piece in the world to another. I’ve been trying to think of a piece of work that can be appreciated on many levels with different levels of context and I just keep coming back to impressionism.

Take for example Degas’ pastel drawings of Ballerinas; the flow of his organic drawing style, the exotic isolated dancer, the construction of the ballerinas limbs and the framing of the image is truly beautiful and on face value, if someone just wanted something pretty to hang on their walls, this would be an excellent choice.

Edgar Degas - Dancer Adjusting her Shoe. 1885.

Then again if you look at this image in the social context of the time is Degas trying to say something about the privileged life of these ballerinas? To be a ballerina at the time took money, money for dance classes, money for private dance school and money to pay for tutus. These ballerinas certainly come from upper-class well-to-do backgrounds so, if Degas is not producing the work as a form of social commentary regarding classism, is he in fact creating it because he knows he can sell the work to the families of these rich ballerinas? Degas himself came from quite an upper-class upbringing (his father was a Banker) so why wouldn’t he be making art to maintain the life style and financial security he was used to?

Lastly there is the art history reading of the image; although considered an impressionist Degas actually preferred to be associated with the realist art movement and did not use the typical colour palette of other impressionist artists. Degas also had many clashes with other impressionist artists of the time due to him favouring to work indoors and he was heavily criticised for not painting landscapes. If we do look at the images as a work of impressionism we also need to remember that impressionist art was controversial at the time as it went against the popular high art of the time. Impressionist art did not conform to the accepted drawing/painting techniques (they had much freer unstructured brush strokes), subject matter (everyday modern life rather than formal compositions) and used a different colour palette to fit the natural lighting (as I said above most impressionists shunned the studio). I mean really impressionists were the graffiti artists of the day, protesting traditionalism, trying to keep it real and taking to the street. To sum up; Degas was not only controversial for being labelled as an impressionist at the time but he was also controversial within the impressionist community for not conforming to the impressionist manifesto.

Degas is what I think the people of the world think art should be because it can appeal to everyone on many different levels.

– If the world was perfect in the way you describe here: no misogyny, no oppression, no one telling you what to do, no machismo and no alienation, how would be the art form or in that world, how Kruger would have made this poster?

Sorry I know I’ve written a lot so I’ll try to keep this one short.
No art can be created in a vacuum. Without culture, society or inequality I honestly do not think art or Kruger would exist. Well maybe landscape artists would still be creating…..

It would be like David Bailey’s portraits, would they been important without the fame of his subjects? I doubt it.
David Bailey - Michael Caine. 1965.

Would Tracey Emin’s bed have any artistic worth if it wasn’t a statement on female vulnerability? No.

Tracey Emin - My Bed. 1998.
We need these social constructs and cultural context to form meaning and without meaning I don’t think a value of something (personal or financial) can be determined.


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