Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Power

Something I neglected to mention in an early post, when discussing how amazing this project is for me:

how important it is that this project be more than just my joy.

Though I think that is part of the power of art and music, of anything humans dedicate themselves to doing, I also think that Disembody must try and demonstrate (act as a proof of concept of, if you will) what Fine Art is and can be.

I do believe that contemporary art is collaborative by nature. I think a lot of artists (the whole social practice movement; as well as contemporary artists like Christian Jankowski and Ryan Gander) address this. But I think a lot of this work focuses on, or tries to demonstrate how, contemporary art is a collaboration between artist and viewer. It neglects how contemporary art is a collaboration long before it reaches the viewer.
Institutional critique perhaps addresses that issue to a small degree. But it looks at it as a capitalistic corruption of Art. Rather, I'd like to suggest that artists try to see the complex ecology of the art world as a community of collaborators. The many visible egos within the art world cover the far more numerous people who actually make the art world possible. And who I'd like to draw attention to with Disembody.
As complex as Disembody may be, it is no more complex than many contemporary art works.

I want to create a spectacle that engages people inside and outside of the art world, and proclaims to them that art is a practice of many skilled people working together to create critical, but also hopeful, and often entertaining and beautiful and confounding, environments. And though it may seem a stretch, I think this is true of contemporary painting and photography and sculpture as much as it is about installation and video and performance.

Contemporary art is a shared work.

I think it's important to try and make a work that focuses on how art is a collaborative practice between artists and the many people we often think of as merely support. I think it is important because of the power art has in our lives.
Art is powerful. It is, for many people, a lifeline, a connection, to something greater than their own lives. The youthful promise of art, as a zone of permission, where self-expression reigns supreme and a person may be whoever they really want to be, may be a naive, utopian fantasy of youth. It is also the myth, the Aura, art crafts for itself to try and retain its position and status in society.
That promise is powerful. It is why many people go into art in the first place. Because it offers a tribe with whom they identify. It offers like-minds. It is a refuge for many who feel they do not belong.

Ultimately, that mythic place does not exist.
Art is a business. It is about who you know, etc, etc.

We all know this. I have no desire to repeat the litany of ways art can disappoint.
Quite the opposite, I want to celebrate the ways in which art can (or might) fulfill the promise of inclusion.

Disembody, the exhibit is meant to be a work that demonstrates the many ways an artist works with people to try and fulfill a vision. It is about the community of people who make up each artist's creative world: the gallerist, the assistants, the curators, the designers, the friends, to name a few.
It is about all the time and effort and people who work together to create something incredibly short-lived, like an installation.

Disembody, the film, is the document that lives on, to proselytize this idea, that contemporary art is a shared act.
I look at the work of Jean-Claude and Christo as an example of what I am talking about. They laid much of the groundwork for what I am doing here. Their work is a huge social collaboration.
I recently attended a Paul McCarthy lecture on his show, Low Life Slow Life: Part 1, at the Wattis Institute, and see that show as another example. In it he curates work by people who influenced him. It is only Part 1 because he could only get through one decade of influences.

It is easy to critique art. But it is more productive to look at what works in art, and try to celebrate and encourage and expand those areas, imho.
I am interested in an art of Utopia, of hope. In seeing if there is a way to make the artworld resemble that place of inclusion and challenge and faith, that so many people first believe it to be.
I think that art is both a cut-throat business and a tribal practice, a place of belonging, a possibility for hope in an alienated world.

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