Thursday, February 11, 2016
Is culture in its death throws.....(I'm not sure if this is a rant or an article, you be the judge!)
Recently I was shocked to read the literacy rate/ required- understanding level for popular music being produced today is roughly at a grade 2-3 reading level. Hmmm 20 years ago it was 7-8 if my memory serves correct so what does that say about us as a society. Don’t answer that yet.
In the last year I have read a couple more disturbing articles...one about a long time gallery closing down (run since the mid 50’s) and a 80-ish year old sculptor woman in NY city (lost her space after 45yrs) that by her sole presence helped to keep culture alive and re-generated a marginalized area into a trendy neighbourhood... so trendy in fact that property values/rent climbed to the point said sculptor woman (and others artists in the area) could no longer afford to live where they/she had lived and continued to work for over 40yrs (which basically made the neighborhood sustainable) . She now has/had to move out of state to find a live work space... There are many other examples of this (which imo is sad). To me the majority of the monies in art should go to the artisans not the administrator or management or the like. The artists do the work after all...the rest well it could be done by the volunteer body of most supporting groups. Of the folks I spoke to "Paid " management/admin is where most arts funding goes...very little actually hits the pockets of the creators .....unless its to an artist (if you can refer to them as that) that is famous for gallery floors piled high with sand/dirt and or garbage, as some kinda statement....Its garbage and sand ...like hello!!!!!
After spending a fair bit of time on Youtube searching out good guitar tunes to learn I came across an incredible number of video’s of “homeless people” with almost unreal musical talent...which sorta (makes me wonder &) brings me to my point in this piece...which is this, “How is it that most of the real creative talent has been marginalized to the street...for the benefit of..... what or whom?” because I’m not sure of the benefit if the reason you move to an area for environment is removed. Kinda like moving to a park area and ripping up all the tree’s???? Or in the case of the musically inclined removing the (broad term here) “instruments” from said musicians???? I’m sorry if I offend anyone with this remark but “I prefer tunes with more than 5 different words in it” (and no I don’t have a solution). So if you mix this with the “how are we going to stay afloat” remarks and mur mur’s from the corp arts and culture community (ie; galleries and museums) I think their question ought to be how do we increase the awareness of the “intrinsic value & relevance” of artists and creative people in our society "AND" how do we reward their efforts since art making is a very financially risky biz (keeping in mind that if not for the creatives we would all be sitting naked in the snow/rain under a tree...freezing our “bits” off!). Originality or quirkiness ought to be supported & celebrated !
Now we come to another element in this...somehow the art, design, music, literature (culture etc..) has become verbose in description and toothless or weightless in substance. I always laugh when listening to an interpreter describe reasoning in an art piece or an abstract art piece. To me if your work is not easily discernible/understandable you haven’t done your job or finished yet....”One word of explanation etc... explanation should not pick up the slack (this kind of work cheapens all “imo“ and helps accelerate the loss of art tool and technique knowledge and skill .....in other words it “dumbs” us).
Art is the spice and grease which makes our world more comfortable and interesting ...not to mention easy to look at. If we continue to be politically correct by glorifying and celebrating mediocrity and “deep as a soap-dish” art and culture we are doomed to a future of dry, starchy, color & spice less hash. This age of “instant or easy” everything could be a fabulous thing but if we are not careful we could extinct regional (identity) culture and replace it with schlep (or sloppy irrelevant art).
My thoughts are basically we as a society ought to be re-evaluating what we regard as valuable and how we go about identifying and rewarding it. Will our art be easily/obviously identifiable as an artifact or will it appear more like accidental rubish....this evaluation will not be solely up to you it will also be those of the future. So when you are creating or curating for what ever the reason remember, what you do will at some point later be measured AND you won’t be there to explain it!
Quality is designed...it doesn’t just happen don’t you think?