Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Why Bother?


There's an interesting post (and even more interesting comments) over at Art and Perception. Lately I've been looking at landscape paintings, searching for clues to my puzzlement over what direction I want my landscape photography to take. (actually, truth be told, I've been checking a lot of books out of the library and looking at a lot of reproductions of paintings on the web).

But the comments made by 'Arthur' have had me thinking this past day. His contention is that quilting (and photography) 'have trouble' in the art world' because of biases amongst the 'contemporary art worlders'.

To quote Arthur directly, he writes:
To clarify my view further, let me say that I am in no way trying to discourage what you do. Quite the opposite. I was simply trying to describe (and encourage discussion of) biases that can and do exist. I'm sorry if you find this bothersome or tedious. I find it interesting.

Also, I don't think biases are always just bad. Any coherant view of what art or anything else is or does involves bias.

Also, if you want to convert people who are biased against what you do, it doesn't necessarily work to just run away and tell yourself that you're going to do whatever you're going to.

A lot of fine art people, if they're being honest, will admit to being biased against the idea of art quilts. I admitted to a slight bias myself, not in a spirit of intolerance or opression, but one of openness and knowledge-seeking. I doubt it benifits your cause to view this as irrelevant.

Its not that I don't think your quilts are art. Rather, its that they seem marginal to what I customarily think of as art. Again, I apologize, but I suspect you have similar views about some artforms.

To me, this touches on the issue of why I make art. There are times when I go to a gallery, view a show, and look at the work (scoods better than mine) and think "Why do I bother? I'm never going to be this good." There are times when I view a show, and I think the work shown is crap, and I think "Why do I bother? If work like this gets acclaim, it's all about promotion and not about artistic merit. Forget working so hard on the photography, and just work on promotion!"

This all brings me back to the 'secondhand art' phenomenon that I wrote about long ago in Art is a Verb. I think it's a mistake to make art primarily to satisfy an audience rather than satisfy yourself. The important part of the art process is the engagement of the artist in the process, not the artifacts that get spun off and then judged by 'contemporary art worlders'.

Having realized this, I started to feel better. I make art because, well, it makes me feel good to do it. I like being out with the camera, feeling the sun or the rain or the fog on my face. I like the flow experience I have when I'm photographing. I like the process of struggling as I try to eff the ineffable and capture some of my feelings toward the landscape when I'm making a print.

What I'm completely indifferent to is how my work is judged by art critics like Arthur. And, because I'm not in it for fame, or huge financial success, or a place in the art history books, Arthur and his art critic colleagues have very limited leverage to affect my life and my art. Arthur seems to believe that I ought to care whether art critics view photography as art, or my work as art - and it turns out that their opinions on this (or any other) issue just don't carry any weight at all in the evaluation of why I engage in the artistic process. Indeed, I might ask why Arthur and his cronies bother with art criticism at all when it's clear to me that the vast majority of artists (and here I number the vast slews of creative folk I mention in Art is a Verb, the doctors that paint, the mothers that sketch, all without any plan to show their work, ever) simply couldn't care less what the contemporary art worlders think about anything.

I'm a slow learner, and I haven't learned very many lessons in life, but this one I have figured out: Do the work you love. Do the work you need to do. If fame and fortune come, that's nice - but not central to the task. If you do the work to garner fame and fortune, and it works, all you've done is become a famous, wealthy fake. That's not artistic success.

Here's my view of artistic success: When I'm really old, and my body stops working, and I'm forced to live in some sterile hell-hole of a 'full-service health care facility', situated in the fetid squalor of some urban ara, I hope one of my kids comes to visit and brings a box of my prints. If I take out the prints, and I leaf through them, and I'm reminded of how the rain sounds different falling on a Doug Fir or a Hemlock, or I remember how it felt to have the stiffening sea breeze drive the cold, damp fog inside my jacket, or remember the smell and taste of the morning ground fog and how it felt when the fog wet my face, or I remember the plastic feel of the frozen path beneath my feet - that would be artistic success.

28 Comments:

Blogger Colin [auspiciousdragon.net] said...

Paul,

I quote freely from your Art is a Verb piece, and point people in the direction of the web page often.

My conclusion to date is that the more formal art eduction that somebody has, the less likely they are to understand the point.

My favourite exchange to date was with an art historian who said......'I see, so you are interested in performance art'.

I was out on the hills today with my camera. I got cold and wet. I also got three rolls of HP5 and I got happy.

Colin

12:04 PM  
Blogger Karl Zipser said...

Paul,

I like this post a lot, especially where you write "I make art because, well, it makes me feel good to do it. I like being out with the camera, feeling the sun or the rain or the fog on my face."

However, you are off the mark with your comments on Arthur. The text you quote shows he is making an honest appraisal of his own views. I think that is intrinsically valuable -- especially if you don't agree with those views. Arthur takes a risk, and I respect that.

Your response to him is "What I'm completely indifferent to is how my work is judged by art critics like Arthur." First, I don't believe that is true, or would be if you knew Arthur better. Second, don't forget that Arthur is an artist also. Are you indifferent to artists' views as well as art-critics' views? Third, the discussion you refer to is still going on.

Best,

Karl

5:11 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

Paul,

Thank you for reading through my comments and giving them such thoughtful consideration. I appreciate that. Thanks also for your poetic evocation of the goals behind your art-making. I don't discount them.

You express scepticism about the value of having specialized art critics. You write: "I might ask why Arthur and his cronies bother with art criticism at all when it's clear to me that the vast majority of artists...simply couldn't care less what the contemporary art worlders think about anything."

First of all, let me say that I resent your use of the term "cronies". I can count the number of art critics that I know personally on one hand. I'm not a big fan of everything that the big name critics do; furthermore, I feel very distant from their social world and from some of their concerns.

Let me say, furthermore, that I have very little power, not just over you, but over anything. My art criticism--and I am only now beginning to accept that this is part of what I do--is small-scale and little known. My newspaper work (which I've been doing only since last May)is in a small town, where many artists are like you and do not care too much about these things. It pays very little. The work I do on my blog pays nothing; it is a labor of love.

Nevertheless, I have spoken with and received written contact from several artists who have expressed gratitude for what I am doing. This of course means infinitely more to me than any complaints you might have.

Further, You evoke as a populist ideal "the doctors that paint, the mothers that sketch, all without any plan to show their work". I'm not immune to the romance of the artist as the ordinary person next door making things for their family and friends. I actually like some work in this vein, believe it or not.

Pragmatically speaking however, this isn't the world I inhabit. My education, my trips to see art, and my friends have lead me astray. Most of the people I could reasonably consider my peers have also been lead astray. Perhaps this is a loss, but it seems to be driven by the character of the world we live in. Nostalgia is fine, but it doesn't get you through the world.

You seem to live in a very different world. I'm curious about it. I hope you're interested in open communication without a rush to negative judgement.

Sincerely,

Arthur Whitman

6:11 AM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

Karl-

You state "However, you are off the mark with your comments on Arthur. The text you quote shows he is making an honest appraisal of his own views."

Well, I certainly believe that Arthur is making an honest appraisal of his own views. As it happens, I actually think his views are correct - Ithink that the 'contemporary art worlders' have views that Arthur describes perfectly.

Where Arthur and I part ways is that Arthur thinks I should care, I think I should not.

You say I should care. Why? Given my goals for my artistic process, why should I spend even one iota of mindshare on a contemporary art world's bias that what I do is 'not art' or, to use Arthur's most recent phrase, "marginal to what I customarily think of as art."

Let me be clear. Arthur might be a fine person, with honest intent and a great deal of caring for art and the art world. I don't know him, and I'm certainly not going to venture an opinion of his merits as a person based on reading his text on the web.

What you are missing is that Arthur can be the nicest person in the world, and his expression of his views can be open and honest, and... I can still disagree with him.

And I do.

7:52 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

Paul,

It might be worth trying to separate out your thoughts and feelings on art criticism from those on the "contemporary artworld". (I have a love-hate relationship with both.)

Regarding the latter, I think its a extrememly fuzzy notion (yes, I realize it was my term in the first place). Perhaps I shouldn't have used it. Many or most of my contmemporary favorites are things you might very well find silly or baffling or even not art (I'm guessing here, I just learned of your blog this morning.) Nevertheless, there is plenty of "contemporary art" that I too find lacking for various reasons.

You act as if I'm somehow a representative of the contemporary artworld. I'm not and I'm not sure that anybody is. The world is just too diverse.

It should go without saying, but being an art critic doesn't entail a commitment to any one style, genre, movement, or tendency. Of course, a blanket rejection such as yours would be a serious liability.

Yet again, let me try to clarify what I mean by using terms like "marginal" You seem to take it as an opressive slight, and certainly it can be used that way. You seem to know this from hard experience.

All I'm trying to get at is that for me personally, some things are more liable to get my attention. I don't believe this makes me a close-minded snob, as you seem to imply. (Maybe I am a snob, but I think you're jumping to conclusions) It just makes me human. Of course this psychology does reflect my cultural background, as well, perhaps, as various neurological idiosyncracies. So the nefarious contemporary artworld may be a factor.

I actually like your work. It isn't my favorite sort of thing in the whole world, but its far stronger than some of the things I've has to look at as a newspaper reviewr. Given the time you've expended reading and (then?) dismissing me, I ask again for an open dialogue.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

Arthur-

On the subject of the word 'cronies', I'm confused about why you object to my statement about 'Arthur and his cronies' (a word meaning 'long-time friends') and then go on to tell me that among the influences that have led you astray are your education, your travels, and your... friends. If you resent the word, perhaps you ought to look at your self-stated influences, rather than simply taking me to task for pointing out what you've already admitted.

My vision of ordinary people making art is not, as you so sanctimoniously put it, a 'Romantic Ideal'. The vast majority of artists in the world are ordinary people who fit art-making into their very ordinary lives. They take drawing classes at the local community college, not at RISD. They take music lessons from Barb, their neighbor down the street, not at Julliard, and they play their original compositions (which they often call 'songs') on an upright Yamaha in the dining room corner, not on a Bosendorfer concert grand at Carnegie. This is not an ideal, it is an simple observation of human demographics. The everyday people who make art are far more numerous and produce far more art than the current rising stars in the celestial firmament of the 'contemporary art world'. That fact that you, as an art critic and artist, are unaware of this does not exactly persuade me that your views are likely to be relevant to the artistic process I engage in.

And, your protestations of your powerlessness, your inadequate compensation, your social and geographic situation, your feelings of distance from the social world of big name art critics - I don't know why you're raising them. It's not that I think they're unimportant (they're clearly important to you), but I think that they're utterly irrelevant to any discussion of whether your role as an art critic has any relevance to my life as a creative artist. Your statements are not argument, they're rank appeal to emotion - "Oh, I'm so powerless, poorly paid, ignored by the big names in my field. How dare you disagree with me about the relevance of my world to the art you create?" Sorry, Arthur. Other people might buy that schtick, but while I'm sympathetic to your plight, I'm unmoved by your lack of argument.

Let me try to put the point as plainly as possible. I make art for reasons I've made plain elsewhere. Unlike the 'contemporary art worlders', I am highly concerned with my own creative experience and almost completely unconcerned about the destination of the artifacts that are produced.

You claim that I should not just blow off you and your opinions of the merits of my chosen medium (and Lisa's as well), but you fail utterly to provide even a modestly persuasive argument for why I should care about the opinions of you and other 'contemporary art worlders'. Indeed, given that you've expressed negative biases about the medium in which I work, I would seem to have more than ample justification for my view that not only are your opinions not helpful to my art, they're positively destructive to it. Why solicit feedback from someone who's views are known, a priori, to be negative?

Can you, as an art critic who has stated his bias against several artist forms (including mine), help me improve my experience as a creative photographer concerned entirely with process and unconcerned with artifact?

If not, then you are utterly, completely, totally irrelevant to my life as an artist, and I'm absolutely justified in ignoring your opinions.

And if you can, the only argument that is persuasive is for you to do it.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Karl Zipser said...

Actually Paul,

I think Arthur is just the sort of person who might help you to see your work in another way. An artist can get too close to their own work. An intelligent outside view can be valuable. Maybe Arthur in particular is not the one, but someone like him. If your work is strong, it will overcome a bias in an honest viewer.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

Karl-

You seem to be missing the point.

It's not that I don't get outside views on my art. I do; until two weeks ago, I met with other artists every other week to get feedback on my newest work. I don't need to be sold on the value of feedback, nor do I need to be reminded that an artist is often too close to the process and work to see it clearly. If you don't believe me, go read http://www.butzi.net/articles/monday.htm and then get back to me.

So, given that I am actually a big fan of regular, consistent, ongoing feedback, why am I so dismissive of Arthur and his views?

Because, when I'm selecting someone to get feedback from, I think it's better not to select someone who views your medium as 'marginal to what I customarily consider art'.

Sure, if my work is strong enough, it will overcome his bias. But there are lots of people in the world, many of whom don't share Arthur's bias. Given that, why not invest my time and energy in dialogue with them, rather than in trying to overcome Arthur's bias?

Life is short. Why waste it engaging in dialogue with people who think what you do is marginal to what they do?

Perhaps Arthur should consider this from the other end. Why is it so important to him that I not dismiss him and his views as irrelevant to what I am doing?

10:13 AM  
Blogger Karl Zipser said...

I've been kicking myself for getting into this argument, which I managed to stay out of on Art & Perception.

But now that we are all here, let me suggest:

1) Arthur, if you want Paul to take you seriously, come by here sometime and make an intelligent comment on one of his photographs.

2) Paul, give Arthur a chance to make a new start in your book. I bet that if he had come here and left a good comment, and you had never heard about his self-proclaimed biases before, you would be happy to read it.

Yeah, life is short Paul. But you're arguing with Arthur and me, and we are arguing with you. We are not a bunch of idiots. So maybe we do have something to talk about, and we sense that. But we got off to a rocky start. Let's cool down and give it another shot sometime. Deal?

10:39 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:26 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

Paul,

I'm mature enough to handle the fact that some people are never going to care about what I say. Its just that I object to misrepresentation, slander and being told (implicitly) to "fuck off". (Admittedly, you've been relatively mild here, but still..)

As for showing artwork to people who might not normally be interested, I think it can be a great help. (I speak here from personal experience, not rigorous abstract logical argument; sorry.) I find it useful to get as many (constructive) perspectives as I can handle. Whether you get these from me or someone else is besides the point.

Karl,

My fingers are pretty worn out now, but thats a good idea.

11:40 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

Paul,

I'm trying to respond to your position as evenhandedly as possible, but am constantly distracted because you keep blatantly misrepesenting what I've said and making extravagant assumptions.

I object to the word "cronies" because it has negative connotations. It suggests a corrupt organization. I'm not a part of any organization to speak of; I'm pretty much on my own. Yes, I do have friends, and yes they do influence me. But I'm an independent thinker, not part of some art mafia.

I didn't use the term "Romantic ideal"; I said "romance", with no capital letters. There's a difference, although it was an extravagent word choice. Give me a break.

More to the point, your "us against them" rhetoric is grossly simplistic and harmful. Let me just list out some complications, because I'm so tired of writing.

You could, with some justification ,call my taste elitist, but some of my most important and formative art educational experiences have been at a community college and a non-accredited community arts school. Yes, I went to a fancy art school, connected with a fancy university. Why should I be ashamed of that? Why should I be ashamed of ambition? I don't automatically judge people based on their background; I'm more interested in their work. My tastes are broader than you think.

I'm highly obscure as an artist, probably more so than you. I live in a small town and rarely show my work. This is so despite a style that could be described as fashionable. I hope you believe me when I say that I do it for love, not to be hip (not that I wound't mind being hip, but that's just a side benifit to be hoped for). Thanks to the internet, my criticism (only six or so full-scale reviews so far), is better known. But I'm far from being a major influence on anything much.

I'm also a big fan of popular music, in particular songs. Although I've tried with considerable success to expand my taste, I'm a casual classical music listener at best. Of course, I have opinions as to which groups are good and bad. Elitism is a slippery beast. Does this contradict my stance towards the
visual arts? Yes. Things are messy; that's what I'm trying to say.

My "protestations of powerlessnes", etc. were/are not intended to evoke your empathy or sympathy. At this point, I expect nothing of this kind from you. I was trying to make my situation as explicit as possible. I'm sorry if I went overboard or if you simply don't care. I'm interested in countering you allegations that I'm completely out touch with "reality". That's argumentation, although not phrased as cogently as it could be.

Your belief that "contemporary art worlders" (I'm getting sick of my phrase, I'll admit) are disinterested (or only secondarily interested) in their own "creative experience" is without basis in reality. I've met very very few artists meeting this description. I've also met very few artists genuinely "unconcerned about the destination of the artifacts that are produced". Why do you post your pictures on the Internet?

I don't really need to argue for the relevance of my writing. You can figure that one out for yourself. All I ask is that you try to do so with a more open mind. Also, let me say once again that I do not represent "the contemporary artworld" Hopefully, you can lay aside some of the biases conjured by that phrase. Of course, ultimately I don't care that much if you read me or not (Lisa reads me, or did, for whatever that's worth). I'm not trying to turn you into a loyal reader, I'm trying to correct some misunderstandings and misrepresentations.

I'm not biased against photography as I am with art quilts (and I'm not that biased against quilts either, as I've said over and over). I'm not sure where you got that idea. My primary love is painting and drawing, but I've written about photography on occasion. I leave it to you to seek that out and judge its worth if you so desire. I'm not a serious practicioner with the camera, but believe I have cogent things to say.

My writings about actual works of art appear not here or on A & P, but at my blog.

3:53 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

Auspicious,

I'm a bit confused regarding your comment. I haven't read your blog (although I will), so maybe I'm missing the context. Bear with me.

My conclusion to date is that the more formal art eduction that somebody has, the less likely they are to understand the point.

The point of what? Art? What exactly is the point of art, anyway? Is it just self-gratification?


My favourite exchange to date was with an art historian who said......'I see, so you are interested in performance art'.


This makes no sense without some kind of context. I take it that this exchange somehow illustrates the bankruptcy of art in the academy. But how?

Paul,

'Arthur' is my real first name; no quote marks are necessary.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

Arthur-

The point of what? Art? What exactly is the point of art, anyway? Is it just self-gratification?

I suspect he's referring to the point to the article, Art is a Verb, mentioned both in his comment and in the post on which he's commenting.

This makes no sense without some kind of context. I take it that this exchange somehow illustrates the bankruptcy of art in the academy. But how?

Perhaps if you were to go and read the article, you'd have the context you needed.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

Arthur-

I'm mature enough to handle the fact that some people are never going to care about what I say. Its just that I object to misrepresentation, slander and being told (implicitly) to "fuck off".

Well, wow. The decorum and maturity you display in the second sentence just have me totally, completely not believing even an iota of the first.

Since you've been freely dishing out advice on how certain attitudes and behaviors are not constructive, let me pass on a bit of advice to you: generally speaking, if you want to persuade someone that your views and opinions deserve respect, acting like a petulant two year old with a potty mouth generally won't help.

Because you seem to have missed it before, let me repeat:

Can you, as an art critic, help me improve my experience as a creative photographer concerned with process and unconcerned with artifact?

If not, then your views are irrelevant to my life as an artist, and I'm justified in ignoring your opinions.

And if you can, the only argument that is persuasive is for you to do it.

5:19 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

Generally speaking, if you want to persuade someone that your views and opinions deserve respect, acting like a petulant two year old with a potty mouth generally won't help.

I'm sorry if I've offended your delicate "populist" sensibilities, but you've been consistently getting on my nerves (for reasons that I've repeated over and over again). Between responding to your complaints in a thoughtful and rational manner, I feel justified in venting a little steam. Moreover, my intent in writing that expletive was to paraphrase (with perhaps some exaggeration), your attitude toward me and my arguments, which has been pretty shameful. I wasn't telling you to do anything. (And I'll point out further that Karl has used the similarly vulgar term "shit" on at least one occaision.) I'm not one to swear gratuitously, at least not in writing. I'm not going to lose sleep or anything, but do understand that you are being irritating.

Can you, as an art critic, help me improve my experience as a creative photographer concerned with process and unconcerned with artifact?

Once again, I reccomend that you check out my blog, which located at "http://thethinkingi.blogspot.com/". Browse around a little bit; I write on a broad range of art and art related topics. I'd like to comment on your work here, but have wasted too much time here today defending myself against criticisms that are weak, if not wholly without justification. I'm not promising you that you'll like my blog, but its been there. I haven't been hiding it from you.

As for process and artifact, I'm not sure that you are doing enough to de-emphasize the latter. Why do you archive work on your blog? Isn't the process of photography generally aimed at creating an artifact worth perserving?

You've ignored the content of my last round of arguments. To the best of my knowledge, you've ignored my suggestion to seek out my blog. How can you tell if my criticism is useful or not, if you refuse to look at it? The best you can seem to do is to take me to task for my "potty mouth" I'm not impressed.

5:57 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

Besides, I've just about given up trying to convince you of anything. I'm pretty persistent about these things, but you seem unable or unwilling to listen to reason.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Karl Zipser said...

Paul, give Arthur a chance to cool down (which is to say, ignore him for the moment). As someone now on the sidelines of this, I think you two could benefit from discussion -- once tempers get back to normal. I hope we can look back on this thread with a smile later.

Best regards,

Karl Zipser

11:10 PM  
Blogger birgit said...

'Why bother' is a picture that makes me want to give up my job and spend my time being outside.

I also love your long exposure pictures of water visualizing the patterns of the currents in grey tones. I am spending much time walking along the shores of Lake Michigan looking at the sculptures in the sand made by wind and water. In your pictures, you are capturing the motion making these sculptures.

6:38 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

I suspect he's referring to the point to the article, Art is a Verb, mentioned both in his comment and in the post on which he's commenting.

Perhaps if you were to go and read the article, you'd have the context you needed.


I apologize; Reading your comments here has made my eyes bleary (yes, I read yours before reading his).

I'll read Art is a Verb shortly, as it seems to be quite popular.

7:04 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

I read "Art as a Verb", and for the most part, I liked it, was provoked.
I disagree with a lot of it; the slide from criticism of the art object as a market commodity to criticism of the the importance of the finished artifact per se is a bit hasty. It would be good to more clearly distinguish the two.

Further, it does seem that professsionalism in the arts is here to stay and that that isn't necessarily always a bad thing (although some times it is). Specialization, in art as in other fields, does tend to create alienation (and yes, it could be said that art criticism exploits this alienation). It has also created many great works of art. These are things worth arguing.

I do object to some biases which seem to be unexamined and not argued for, at least not in this essay. These include comments about people with weird piercings and mental disorders. These comments smack of bigotry and conservatism (not that these two are the same thing). These things are romanticized excessively, in part for reasons connected with your other criticisms. It may be this glorification that you object to. Still, you come of as needlessly intolerant.

Similar difficulty arises with your comments about "unfathomably strange artists". I have a lot to say on this; here I'll just point out that most artists I'm familiar with do what they do because they find it genuinely interesting.

The two comments by auspicious are still needlessly opaque (and wrongheaded, although it would be pedantic of me to complain too much about a blog comment). The context helps a bit.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

Arthur-

I don't criticize 'the art object as a market commodity'. In fact, I point out quite explicitly that, from an art collector's perspective, that's exactly the right paradigm. So I'm a little confused by your comments about that, which don't seem to be based on the actual content of the essay but more on your preconceived notions of what you'd find when you read it and the baggage you were carrying when you started reading it.

Likewise, I find your comments about professionalism and specialization confusing. Neither issue is addressed in the essay, which deals with the impact the less than savory aspects of the 'contemporary art world' culture have on the attitudes of the rest of our society toward art and artmaking.

I also find your comments about my biases confusing. On the one hand, you steadfastly defend your right to your own biases, and even claim that some biases are good. Yet you're quick to attempt to smear me with the 'intolerant' brush when I express a bias.

Let me be clear. I think people who punctuate their face with bits of metal and engage in other forms of self mutilation are doing it because they want to make their appearance offputting. It's a choice they have made - not something that's been imposed on them.

If I find them offputting, is that my intolerance, or theirs? Who, exactly, in this situation is attempting to exclude the other? Suppose, for instance, that I expressed a dislike for a person who ran up and shouted repugnant obscenities in my face. I don't believe that viewing such a person as rude, obnoxious, and arranging my life so that I interacted with this person as little as possible is an intolerant position.

I see little difference between shouting obscenities in my face and deliberately mutilating your features to achieve the same goal, except that perhaps the mutilation has the advantage that once it is done, no energy need be expended to continously make the statement.

If my opinions about this are upsetting to you, perhaps you could view it as an opportunity to 'stretch your ability to be tolerant of different viewpoints.'

Alternatively, you can continue on as you have before, even though your attitude smacks of bigotry and you come off as needlessly intolerant.

10:22 AM  
Blogger arthur said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:31 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

Likewise, I find your comments about professionalism and specialization confusing. Neither issue is addressed in the essay, which deals with the impact the less than savory aspects of the 'contemporary art world' culture have on the attitudes of the rest of our society toward art and artmaking.

You don't bring these up directly, and yet you write that "in the commodity art world, art is only made by the aesthetic elite dressed in black clothes, pointy shoes, with parts of their body pierced in unusual and disturbing ways." I was assuming that this was your caricature of art world professionals.

12:35 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

You're right, I read your essay hastily and with preconceived notions. Again, I've been distracted by your intolerance and simplistic caricatures. But I should apologize nevertheless. Sorry (honestly). I was also trying too hard to appease you, which was also foolish of me. Sorry again. I'll focus on your bias against contemporary art, where my criticisms are in fact cogent.

Let me be clear. I think people who punctuate their face with bits of metal and engage in other forms of self mutilation are doing it because they want to make their appearance offputting.

Yes, there are "contemporary artists" who do things like this. But this represents a fringe activity, even within the field. This isn't my favorite kind of thing either, although I would defend most of it on the grounds of free speech. But it repesents such a narrow cliche about modern art. There is a wide world of things going on, a world which you seem to be willfully ignorant of.

Among the names you cite, only Mapplethorpe, to my knowledge, has done anything of this sort. Of course, this was only one part of a diverse body of work, and is more interesting taken in context. Furthermore, there is a big difference between staging a photograph and doing a live performance.

I strongly dislike the work of Mr. Hirst, as do plenty of other "artworlders". Pollock is a great artist, but I won't try to defend him here and now.

I see little difference between shouting obscenities in my face and deliberately mutilating your features to achieve the same goal, except that perhaps the mutilation has the advantage that once it is done, no energy need be expended to continously make the statement.

I didn't tell you to "f*** off", I said that that was you were expressing to me, figuratively speaking. I think my analogy was plausible. Yet again, you've misrepresented what I've said even though what I said was very straightforward (much more so than your essay).

Your comparison of obscenity shouting to self-mutilation is bizarre, assuming you meant it literally. I want to believe that you didn't, but you do seem to have a weird moralistic sense. I don't hope to be able to understand it.

I also find your comments about my biases confusing. On the one hand, you steadfastly defend your right to your own biases, and even claim that some biases are good. Yet you're quick to attempt to smear me with the 'intolerant' brush when I express a bias.

Having biases is human nature. I'll simplify greatly: biases that help individuals in world are good, while biases that hinder them are bad. I've tried to analyze and in some cases justify my own biases (that is, the ones I believe are more or less good). In the few cases that you've tried to do the same, I have been critical or have tried to prod you further. No doubt, in some cases, my approach has been overheated. But compared to you, I believe I've been pretty reasonable.

12:39 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

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12:43 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

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12:57 PM  
Blogger arthur said...

Let me be clear. I think people who punctuate their face with bits of metal and engage in other forms of self mutilation are doing it because they want to make their appearance offputting.

I see that I misunderstood you here. I thought you were talking about performance art, where in fact you are talking about facial piercings. It's just that "self-mutilation" is such a loaded term.

People pierce themselves for a variety of reasons: sometimes to be rebellious and appear offputting, but also other times to appear stylish or attracive, to fit in with a culture or subculture, or to express themselves in some way. Let me note also that as the practice has become increasingly mainstream (at least in the region I live in), rebellion has become less of a factor.

I'm inferring here, but you seem to believe that piercing represents some kind of moral degeneracy. I wonder why. (I'm assuming that like most people you accept the practice of female ear-piercing; I can imagine someone unfamiliar with the practice finding it grotesque.)

1:01 PM  

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