Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Is Art?

What is Art?
This question comes up a lot. I'm not going to answer it. I don't personally believe that it is my role to do so.

Artists are often asked what their personal interpretations of art are. Interviewers may be intrigued by artists' responses to the art scene and where they see themselves in it. Or they may wonder what cutting edge or avant garde artists perceive of as art to see where their boundaries lie, to get a feel for how open-minded those artists actually are. Or they may just not know what else to ask.

But in the grand scheme of things, is it really the artist's role to define what art is? In the long run it isn't necessarily the artists themselves who make that determination so much as the critics, historians, collectors, patrons, curators, agents, museums, writers... So it always strikes me as somewhat odd that the question is so often posed to artists when their primary role should one of production and not necessarily assessment.

I personally feel that it is the artist's duty to create, ideally without questioning his/her place in the grand scheme of things. Contemplating what is and isn't art encourages one to make a judgment call. If then overthought, this can lead to self-censorship because it can seemingly invalidate or belittle what is perceived of as non-art to one who desires to create true art. It can also promote elitism about what is real art and what isn't and why. My hope is for artists as producers to learn to question and censor themselves less so that they may see where their creativity leads them without worrying about the validity of what they are doing.

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