Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A pre-emptive criticism of the Georgetown Artopia

Which is happening on Saturday in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. The event will be a combination of musical performance, performance art, dance, and some static art. I'll see what's there on Saturday, but the sense that I get from the Seattle Weekly's long series of articles about it is not a good one. To cut to the chase it seems that a lot of the performance art that's scheduled to go on is gimmicky. By gimmicky I mean it seems to have components to it that don't really seem to add much to the meaning that's going to be conveyed but instead are there solely to look cool, or to hook people in to seeing it.

I had a teacher once who was an artist in her spare time who told me a story about entering some pieces of art in a show and getting called on it by one of her instructors. The reason was that the art that was hanging in the show had interesting frames around it, and the instructor was concerned that she was trying to sell the art with the frames rather than let the art speak for itself.

This is the same feeling I get when I see descriptions of pieces like the upcoming knitting demonstration featuring huge outsized needles and an enormous ball of yarn. Or the boxing match on roller skates. People seem to be wanting to do something that's do it yourself, or hip, or cool, solely for the sake of racking up cool points, when the truth is that things that actually are all that, except maybe diy, accomplish it as side effects from being successful art pieces in their own wright.

And the myth of grungy hipster purity also gets me. This comes more from the Seattle Weekly profile of a guy who's made a kinetic sculpture that looks like a giant cam shaft with different shaped arms that come out of it that move when the shaft is turned. Interesting piece, but in defense of a hipster's street cred the author makes the statement that some artists learn their ideas about conceptual constructions through going to RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design, like Talking Heads, and some learn it from other tractor pulls and nascar, which the artist in question went to as a kid. Let me laugh at that a little bit. It's funny, really funny, because although the kid probably did go to those things when he was younger I'm fairly certain that he came in contact with all of that conceptual art book learnin' later in life, which lead him to construct the kinetic sculpture that they're talking about. What the writer seems to want to conceal is that many, many, hipster artists are really bourgeois kids from prosperous backgrounds who, though living in grungy circumstances right now, come from more elite backgrounds than most everyone else, no matter if they like and participate in Roller Derby. Besides, if a guy just made art based around a camshaft because he thought it looked cool because he'd seen Nascar as a kid, it would be totally uninteresting to me. It's the ideas that go beyond "Because it looks cool, dude" that make or break a thing. And some of those you can indeed learn from places like the Rhode Island School of Design.

1 comment:

Captain_Bazooka said...

Okay, how about this...Who cares? Go to Artopia tomorrow and be the elitist intellectual you claim to be. It's fun and makes you feel better about yourself, I know. Try to enjoy the shallow gimmicky people with no true artistic depth. But in the next few months, promise me on your spelling and grammar.