In spite of blogging daily I don’t run out of content. I might run out of meaningful or art related content but I’m not opposed to that; instead I wonder how it affects my audience. Depending on how long you have been here you may regard me as that white shaman girl or the performative drawer. OR! You know my personal posts as well as I do. I ask myself what you think. Do you think “This is not what I subscribed for”? I wouldn’t mind if you did because (here’s the tie in) art is like that.
Today I had supper with my in-laws, specifically his aunt and uncle. I really enjoy going over there because they both understand the city of Edmonton and engage in it. They understand and care for art while having extensive knowledge of the forces at play its production. Location, politics, and general context were what we focused on today. It’s most fun when talking about conceptual art or “High Art” pieces. His aunt talked about seeing a white on white painting when in Houston, Texas. It took up the entire wall and had a single off white square on the canvas. For her it had little impact. But I thought of Robert Rauschenberg. He did that once. His white on white pieces were definitely interesting and meaningful – in the 60s.
I don’t know what the work was or what it was about but I think the context matters most because it’s often you. Audience is the most important context. Who sees your work, how do they understand your work, how much energy is required to understand, what reward is the for understanding??? I could find value in any work. Why? I have been taught to and I am personally motivated to do so.
For more on how work is understood I recommend Pierre Bourdieu’s “The Love of Art:European Art Museums and Their Public”. Bourdieu writes on this from a sociologist’s point of view. He observes the interactions of different people in galleries. Briefly, he concludes that more educated people go alone and don’t read panels because they have internalized the skills/ability to breakdown the visual codes of various pieces. People with less education or from a lower class are more likely to enjoy/spend time with pottery or familiar art. They have the code to break down what they personally know.
As someone who is being trained to understand art I get it. I usually don’t read panels because I don’t need to. I will read them when I cannot deceiver the message. (see Samuel Delany’s Jewel-Hinged Jaw) I attempt to keep this in mind when making in the broadest sense. It can be as simple as not making peanut butter cookies for a public school or as complex as rewriting your first draft to leave out academic and overly specific diction in place of jargon. Context. Audience. You! What is most accessible yet rewarding.
Art made for a gallery can be more complex and less accessible because people going to a gallery ARE GOING TO A GALLERY. They know what to expect and no one is forcing them to go. Public murals however… they need to be more open and accessible. They have accidental audiences.
Whew! Longer post than usual, talk to you all again tomorrow!