I’m a big fan of art critic Dave Hickey, who seems to have fallen off the face of the earth (or perhaps just Google’s search engine) after a drunken but inspired interview in a literary journal in 2007. In his 1999 book of cultural essays Air Guitar, he talked a lot about participation vs. spectacle (doers vs. lookey-loos) and how even ingesting art needs to be participatory, a form of visual curation based on what you WANT to look at.
There’s just so much darn “stuff” in the world. So you find what you love to look at, because it makes you think things you like to think, and you vocally advocate for it. You get crushes on certain artists. And you admit that you wish the art you did NOT like would go away.
You contest against it – art should be more like sport that way. I would like to see more citizens know the names of their local artists and champion them simply because they are “their” artists. Likewise I would like to see more artists groove on and get inspired by what “their” people are passionate about. The concept of the “Home Based Residency” – discussed at this year’s APAP conference – is a step in the right direction.
The results would get pitted against each other in some form of post-modern conceptual Coliseum. We monetize the NBA but artists struggle because they haven’t connected “high culture” with what Dave Hickey calls “the reptile brain” in that way. We still tend to think of art as an expression of individual rather than collective vision. Artists need to represent more, connect with civic pride, like the Italian city-states.
THAT’s creative placemaking!
I decided around 1993 (undergrad) that there was already WAY too much “stuff” in the world, and I would never have the chutzpah to put more out there, even in the name of art. That’s when I decided to be glue in the art world – trying to help stick good ideas with resources to make them walk.
So…arts administration/fundraising for 15 years, then a 4-yr corporate stint at the crossroads of health care and hospitality. Spent a year on a dementia unit to get some perspective.
Seriously, I was responsible for studying the responses of groups of seniors with & without dementia to various cultural programs and what kept them engaged. And I can tell you, at the end of life, when there may be just a few synapses left, what clicks them together is NOT “oh these pretty flowers or this pretty puzzle is good for you.” It’s truth-telling…creating a circle where one person admits that they HATED baking cookies every Christmas for their church and the rest of them go on and have a great laugh about it.
It’s story that gets coiled up in our brains like a kundalini snake and wants to uncoil at some point. That what makes us social. Today, the so-called “ideas economy” is realizing that every single object is really an embodied set of stories about the people who thought it was important enough to make. Or, why they stopped making it and replaced it with something better. Hopefully!…
Isn’t the story of innovation really the story of human evolution? Let’s remember, it started with cave paintings.