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road works as ART, this is definitely not a painting

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by nosferatu
65 Comments
Barricade-Road-closed Ceci n'est pas a painting (If you say it in French it has more ...what was that thing is has? that certain I dont know what...)

This on Overthenet.blogspot (care of NZ"s most influential animal art officionardo's) today:

You can only wonder why artist Luc Tuymans agreed to participate in this witless experiment on context conducted by Klara.be Belgium’s art radio and tv channel. Their question: “what if you take art out of its usual context and expose it in the street – would people even notice it?" Um… let us think for a moment …. er…. no.
The results? Of the 2856 people who walked by the painting Luc Tuymans had created on a concrete wall, only 107 stopped to look at it. Hey, we’ve got an idea. If you put a pile of road working equipment in the middle of an art gallery, would people stop to consider it seriously as art?

Um... let us think for a moment.
Witless experiments that Luc tuymans shouldn't have agreed to: seeing if comuters notice yet another billboard in public space and stop to proclaim it ART ...yes Im with you there. Definately witless on the part of the artist to participate in what is at best a designed-to-fail stunt of the kind loved by popular media (as a never fail preliminary to weeks of self satisfied talk back scoffing about the Emporer's New braying donkeys etc).

More serious public art projects are usually not predicated on attempting to get majority consensus from people on the way to work about what ART is. Although some institutions that should know better are still trying to Democratise 'Culture' by disseminating it to the unwashed ignorati such as lesser spotted plebs and bogans (and bogun vampires of course dont leave me out I'm both smelly and ignorant I assure you) by literally putting copies of their historic collections on the street.

But the Barr's irrascible commentary about road works in the gallery not being ART is a different kind of provocation, probably intentional knowing them, but perhaps not.

Shifting ordinary things out of context so they are understood differently is an art strategy of long standing. You can argue, as many have done, that the institution of the gallery frames everything in it as 'art' in an a priori way. Things placed in galleries, even road working equipment, are received as art. More recently the big art guns are continuing the stampede to bring art from the street inside and confer the canonical blessing, all about painting, of course, not even a tiny bit about context...


Admittedly art/public contextual experiments are seldom considered to be good art by people that prefer their culture served up as oil paintings. I wonder if that's what Overthenet.blogspot meant?

here are a handful of talking points I found super fast, you might be able to find better ones:

Dane Mitchells "Barricades" project at Starkwhite was a contextual experiment

Scott Eady's red tractor "Posy Pony'", first shown by Ivan Anthony

Eve Armstrong quite often brings stuff from outside and puts it in a pile in the gallery

and ironically the talk-back scoffers thought Doris Salcedo's work "Shibboleth" in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall would have been actually improved if there had been some road repairing equipment nearby


What do you think?

Comments:
1 to 20 of 62
naturebirth
artandmylife
9 articles & 197 comments since 1 Feb 2008
I blogged about this today too. Take the ordinary into a gallery and yes people will think it is an art installation. Take some conceptual art out of the gallery and no people will think it is...well...stuff. I am interested in whether locational context is necessary.
benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
surely intentional sarcasm from the barr's, their comments on hamish keith seem to confirm this. no doubt they can recognise a pile of bricks on the gallery floor when they see it... http://overthenet.blogspot.com/2008/01/ass.html it seems to me that most of the good art from the last 100 years or so has been in some way about the context of art itself - self-reflexivity - it knows what its doing but doesn't know how it knows... banksy, south bank (arts conglomeration), london. & fischli and weiss's trompe l'oeil gallery works, like 'room under the stairs' and 'empty room'
758547393fdaa2126m bafisch300
benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
i probably should have given more in my last posting; the two works that i offered were:

banksy - he tags a huge label on the outside of an arts building that says 'BORING', which in this case seems to comment on the architecture and all held within it - the building, the works and the viewers - and yet its documentation effortlessly becomes cherished and enters the building itself to become valued and possessed by that context and the object of its own political critque (the swirling vortex WILL have it ALL).

these works of fischli and weiss work under the pretense of not being there at all and are so subtle that they are easily overlooked as the installation of an installation or a show changeover not yet open, or a janitors/security tearoom. many viewers view the work but just 'see' the building... (and yet everything is meticulously handmade as the antithesis of the 'conceptual'... brilliant).

the work of buren is also relevant and related.
naturebirth
artandmylife
9 articles & 197 comments since 1 Feb 2008
benjamin - great references. I enjoyed having a look at Fischli and Weiss and the hand crafted aspect is wonderful. Can I just clarify that what you are saying is some of the best art is about context - or a least has an acknowledgement of it - even if unknowingly? (I hope this question isn't too iditotic)
benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
well i'll try.
what makes art 'contemporary' as opposed to just art? newness?
no, coz if i go down to my studio now and carve a marble abstract form it would not be contemporary, however, were i alive over a hundred years ago and did the same thing the work would in some way be a critique of the current context of representation in the arts through something that would come to be 'known' as abstract sculpture.

obviously whether contemporary art is good (best) is subjective, but the work and artists that surface the morass are in some way questioning context or opening that which couches it; it doesn't want to be pinned down.

if i think of movements within the art world then that is how they are generally incepted... for example artists start working with gestalt theory as reaction to abstract expressionism, at this stage it wasn't known that it was minimalism as it was becoming its own context by questioning the current one.

the banksy example above is good one in this respect. nosferatu provided a link to the tate showing 'street art' (sponsored by nissan qashqai?). four or five years ago when the 'BORING' work was completed i am convinced that the tate would not have considered that graffiti a work at all, while it was a harsh indictment of what the tate and others stand for - 'the context of the rarefied arts' - and now they are busy creating something akin to 'streetism'!

as a completely different example i would use felix gonalez-torres, whose wonderful quiet poetic works question the context of the art object and life itself... through love

william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
...oooooo its a sign.

can anybody come up with any thing that would not be recieved as art in the gallery context?

if you cant, does this make contemporary art as anachronistic as any other style?

perhaps the credit extended to the possible permutations of post duchampian posing has reached its limit; cultural bancruptcy perhaps?

william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
judgement day
judgement-day
naturebirth
artandmylife
9 articles & 197 comments since 1 Feb 2008
I am reading this book at the moment called "Privatising Culture: Corporate Art Intervention since the 1980s" by Chin-tao Wu. There is a small section about what can happen to conceptual type art when taken out of the controlled "white cube" of the gallery. Here is a small excerpt "The reception and identity of minimal art, more than any other kind of art, depends to a large extent on the objects being framed within a specific context...once installed on corporate premises and lost in the hurly-burly of everyday business life, cannot be easily identified as art at all...what it loses most is its 'objecthood', the appearance of being non-art" and goes on to talk about a Donald Judd wall sculpture being used to put drinks on at a cocktail party.

Just thought it was another interesting illustration of context
benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
meanwhile men are pissing urinals all over the world...LOL

fried's 'art and objecthood' is relevant, i don't think the judd work has lost its theatricality, but has just gained 'the appearance of being non-art'; this appearance blighted minimalism even within the context of the gallery e.g. carl andre's work.

in reference to your book artandmylife (which i haven't read and don't know of) an interesting aside here is the role of corporations, pre 1980, establishing conceptualism e.g. philip morris. corporate became a context pre saatchi

william blake asks, 'can anybody come up with any thing that would not be recieved as art in the gallery context?'... and therein lies the rub. 'anybody' can not put 'any thing' to be 'received as art in the gallery context', but artists can.

the employer that turns on and turns off the gallery lights at the end of the day is not 'making' art but martin creed 'makes' art and is an artist; he lights the holy trinity of art.
ART = context+art+viewer

with the context challenged and opened by the 'contemporary', 'bankruptcy' could exist only when context is static and fixed.
naturebirth
artandmylife
9 articles & 197 comments since 1 Feb 2008
benjamin - I think Wu was saying that in a gallery some of these works were art but appearing to be non-art (like the pile or road working equipment). When put in another location they were not viewed as art at all rather than art pretending not to be. Does that make any sense. I think it still works either way. Its a very interesting book, partly because the author writes as an outsider commenting on the US and British Government and Corporate involvement in Visual Arts. I shall check out those references you gave.
benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
i don't think i misunderstood WB, i just chose his 'anybody' in a different meaning than intended, to highlight the question as misconstrued.

art does not require a gallery; artists, not anybody, make it for a viewer, within a context. the frame provided by the gallery is just not that relevant. the gallery maketh not the art...

naturebirth
artandmylife
9 articles & 197 comments since 1 Feb 2008
b - I meant Chin-Tao Wu - the author of the Privatisation book - however I do agree with your point.
nosferatu
1 articles & 323 comments since 27 Dec 2007
I am fascinated by the conundrum of context (and I love a chance to use the word conundrum in a sentence).

Benjamin makes a good point about the canon of ART being a combination of things beyond artistic intention, he points to audience as the place where the label art gets applied.

but not all audiences are created equal when it comes to taking art seriously...which is where the overthenet comment becomes interesting about the 'witless' experiment of putting Luc Tymans image on the street and waiting for someone to notice it .

as a tactic putting the image in the street and waiting for someone to notice it wasn't witless when Banksy did it. The images have been 'noticed' and agreed as art, with the cred backdated to cover previous acts of rebellious vandalism. one major difference between the two artistic stunts being Bansky's images where always a part of the street ...they were in context. Whereas Tyman's was not.

The less obvious part of art 'context' is that each situation has a different audience, and these separate audiences are usually very difficult to transfer, which is literally why the reception as ART becomes unstable when work is moved out of context; the audience that recognizes it as such is missing.

In the institutional context (authorised art including the gallery, comissioned public work) it is recognised as art because it was made by someone who the institution accepts as a designated art maker: ARTist.

the implications of that equation (solipsism): meaning becomes a function of meaning makers...

and its hard not to rebel at that idea because it implies a one way communication and I agree with WB that one teleology of that functional logic is stultification, and a kind of cultural bankrupcy.

Maybe thats why we cheer on the pisstakers, such as Banksy who poke the Canon in the eye with intelligence and glee. Its why I enjoy art activity that is non authorised, and is outside the gallery/institution... as necessary spice in bland food and clean water in the small pond.

now that Banksy has been digested by the Tate he is ARTist. cinderella goes to the ball. oh well...time to look for a new pisstaker to cheer on...


benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
sorry for misreading you artandmylife... i was rushing to off to complete the marble abstraction in my mind...

i am confident that nosferatu's 'conundrum' only exists in the mind too, but i have no time at present to think it through. anon
nosferatu
1 articles & 323 comments since 27 Dec 2007
only in the mind? whose mind?

you could argue that all distinctions only exist in the mind, doesnt stop them having an effect.

all these imaginary conundra, I need a wee lie down.
mathew
3 articles & 203 comments since 2 Oct 2007
If I may poke my head above the parapet once again.....I,m glad you mentioned that word---solipsism---nosferatu, for that to me seems to be the result of the contemporary situation where context rules, and any and all conceptual moves undertaken by an artist in a gallery are accepted as art.
They are art because, as Benjamin states, artists create them in the gallery, which begs the question.... obviously.... who gets to say whose an artist and who isn,t? Martin Creed, prior to his accreditation as an artist by the appropriate art institutions [art schools] in the UK, may have turned the lights on and off in a gallery-----but this was not art. It became art the moment he acquired the art practising licence from an art school. Had he not done so...... he couldn,t have created art. Art can be made only by licenced practitioners, or occasionally and rarely.... by other folk [outsider arists] who are recognised as practising artists by the licencing authorities.
Does this constitute an Academy, I wonder. At the very least its circularity ring fences much of contemporary art from public opinion. Perhaps this was necessary in the past when philistinism was a real threat to artists...... but for the last 30 years or so, western democratic state governments, thru their cultural institutions, have largely sided with the artists. This has lead to the present situation where individual solipsistic actions undertaken by accredited and licenced practitioners are often mistaken for culturally uplifting events. Martin Creed's action in turning the lights on and off was such an event--it was a solipsistic occurence-and would have remained so had he not been accredited. What role does the public get to play in all this?
william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
Philistinism is a derogatory term used to describe a particular attitude or set of values. A person called a Philistine (in the relevant sense), is said to despise or undervalue art, beauty, intellectual content, and/or spiritual values. Philistines are also said to be materialistic, to favor conventional social values unthinkingly, and to favor forms of art that have a cheap and easy appeal (e.g. kitsch).

swiped from wiki so must be true....from this definition it seems the philistines' are no longer a threat but have taken over the licensing arrangements. the publics role in this is that they have become increasingly sophisticated (minimalism at freedom furniture, DIY Rothko's are ubiquitous etc.) so the institutions response is to exhibit increasingly banal motifs as a rarification strategy (parakowhais' wabbit isnt kitch its irony) excluding or alienating a public who would really like to see some nice safe minimalism / impressionism / classisism. There is nothing wrong with a bit of iconoclasm but continual emphasis on the seemingly radical and / or banal for the sake of cheap sensationalism is perhaps taking up valuable gallery space for those of 'us off on our own tour' as it were. Pluralism please.
mathew
3 articles & 203 comments since 2 Oct 2007
As a quick aside---as an art student I know that the "safest" option for me is to churn out a type of conceptual art that appears to have intellectual gravitas.....even though in this regard it may be paper thin. Thats the "safe" option now.
benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
your mind nos... but i hope i haven't pissed off a vampire; please lets not argue that all distinctions only exist in the mind.

the conundrum then... i don't see one

i also don't see the tuymans 'experiment' as witless, just not very relevant or meaningful

hi mathew, please poke away... LOL

mathew and nosferatu have both put words into my mouth that i certainly would not and did not say

nosferatu - 'Benjamin makes a good point about the canon of ART being a combination of things beyond artistic intention, he points to audience as the place where the label art gets applied.' no i said ART = context+art+viewer and none can be exclusive, whether 'audiences are created equal' or not doesn't seem relevant, whether they really see the work or even believe it to be art is not important in fulfilling their part of the equation; they just have to be. the label 'art' is applied by the artist.

mathew says 'They are art because, as Benjamin states, artists create them in the gallery, which begs the question.... obviously.... who gets to say whose an artist and who isn,t?'

benjamin says 'art does not require a gallery; artists, not anybody, make it for a viewer, within a context. the frame provided by the gallery is just not that relevant. the gallery maketh not the art...'

artists make art, some galleries show some art, some audiences view some art
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anybody can be an artist if they choose to make art, artists make art not meaning, art makes meaning when viewed, it is still art when not being viewed as it has attained its art status (a waiting room still a waiting room when unoccupied, and an empty gallery still a gallery).

that is fucking rich of you mathew claiming that you require 'accreditation' by gaining a practising license from an artschool to be an artist. you call yourself an artist/sculptor? did mccahon (your big love) have a arts degree? outsider art is still made by artists; where on earth did you get the idea that 'Art can be made only by licenced practitioners'? arts education provides artists with the tools to understand what it is that they are doing, the contexts of their work, and skills to successfully express and actualise their ideas.
a BFA/MFA/PHD is not a license.

solipsism is a philosophical doctrine founded in modernism and cartesian thought, 'i think therefore i am'. it is a position that allows ONLY perception to exist. solipsism has no opposite, but consciousness of concepts and their contexts within an phenomenological approach comes close.

mathew previously you have expressed a desire for pure visuality, just something to get lost in...THIS IS SOLIPSISM... just you nothing else. i mentioned fried's 'art and objecthood' earlier, fried is with you on this one, he wanted absorption not conceptual theatricality through consciousness.


benjamin
1 articles & 212 comments since 30 Nov 2007
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