[-empyre-] For whom is art "made"?

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Wed May 7 07:47:12 EST 2008

Hi Megan,

This indeed is something I've been struggling with as an artist, and
frankly to some degree as an art "viewer". I see art shows much less
often than I used to, not so much because I'm afraid of the right
answer, so much as I'm finding art less interesting/inspiring lately.

Now this may be my own issue but do I really care about being an artist,
despite using the label constantly, or if I care about that kind of art,
the kind that is seen is museums?

For my current work I'm hoping to make art for the public, meaning
outside of the gallery and onto the street. They are are really lofty
and conceptual, but at the same time easy to see what is going on. To me
what is going on, what is does, is what is important, more than what it
means or looks like.

In a way there are two artworks, the one you see that is judged by what
it looks like or means to the viewer, and the other the lofty conceptual
treatise that will be my thesis for another audience. One for artists
and critics (though I've not encountered a critic in my electronic media
art world yet) and academics. The other for anyone.

I really believe (of my own art work) that what the average person on
the street thinks is fine, I stopped making art to express some idea a
while ago, and am trying to make art that is an idea somehow. Means just
what it is.

Seems to me happenings, fluxus, CAE, community art are all solutions to
the problem, but I suppose the core idea for me is that the art be less
about the artist and more about something else. What? Well in my case
the space around the art, but it could be anything.

Maybe its a question for every creator, for whom is this thing for? The
other thing is that what it is to the creator may be different than the
viewer, or some other viewer. A scientist may see inspiration in
something that has nothing to do with what the creator thought they were
doing. I think that unexpected interpretations and reactions are what
make a work meaningful. Maybe the viewer should make art meaningful for
the artist rather than the other way around. Of course the artist is
also a viewer as much as creator.

Well I better get back to writing my thesis... I feel like I'm just

B. Bogart

Megan Debin wrote:
> First of all, thanks to Jennifer and to all for introducing me to an
> interesting community of discussion.  I would like to introduce a new
> topic about audience and the public in general.
> For a long while, I have, for reasons unbeknownst to me, been resistant
> to Jennifer's urges to check out errorista's work.  I hadn't quite
> figured out why I felt this resistance until today.  *Light bulb!** * I
> am afraid of not understanding.  I have an intense fear of being wrong –
> a truly anti-errorista sentiment – that what these artists do will be
> beyond my mental grasp.  As I have learned from errorista, there is no
> wrong answer.  There is right in the mistake.  All this self-doubt...
> and I'm in academia!
> So, this got me to thinking about an often-forgotten segment of our
> population: the general public.  The everyday person, when asked about
> their thoughts on art, usually thinks things such as, "I don't
> understand anything about art," or "Maybe if someone explained it to me,
> I might get it.  But probably not."  How have we lost touch with the
> audience? 
> My questions to the empyre community are these: How does current art
> production relate to the general public, to the Joe Shmoe on the
> street?  How is the public /really /involved?   Shall we sit in our
> ivory towers and wax philosophical, using complicated terminology that
> most of the general public does not understand?  That /is/ our job,
> right?  How can artists and critics reclaim a true relationship with the
> people?  Why do we have these discussions?  How does it relate to the
> larger population? And a critical one: For whom is art made?
> P.S. By the way, I checked out errorista.  It's witty, ingenious, all
> right and wrong all at once. I love it.
> -- 
> Megan Lorraine Debin
> M.A. Latin American Studies, UCLA
> meganldebin at gmail.com <mailto:meganldebin at gmail.com>
> "Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to
> shape it" -Vladimir Mayakovski
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