Editorial | Issue 24
It’s OUSA Art Week this week, so Critic have turned the laser beam of our attention to the art world. Zane Pocock explores the local art world and where it might be headed, Katie Kenny takes a look at creativity and its place in tertiary education, and Books Editor Josef Alton compares the two famous Armstrongs’ images in popular culture.
I’m not really qualified to speak about the arts, despite my Arts (humanities) degree. Even as a toddler I wasn’t much for arts and crafts. I only painted once at play centre, taking a piece of paper and covering it entirely in black paint. I’m amazed I didn’t end up in kiddy counselling.
Yet I can still see the value in art. It’s supposed to challenge accepted wisdoms, to comment on contemporary culture and society, and to act as a form of historical record, allowing humanity to turn its gaze on itself and understand a different time, different ideas, and different values.
What I don’t like is art that artists refuse, and enjoy refusing, to explain. Sure, there is something to be said for being forced to think through a piece; to engage with it and understand its multiple levels of complexity. But when un-established artists answer the question “So, what were you trying to say here?” with “Oh, it’s whatever you want it to be,” I die a little bit inside. It is a stumbling block, possibly a deliberate hurdle preventing people who aren’t “in” the art world from entering.
The point of art, or “What is Art?” is a shit of a question, and as well as being completely unqualified, I don’t know the answer. But I think that, generally, artists should be aiming for one of two things: to keep the viewer’s attention for as long as they ask for it, or to challenge the viewer to think about something in a different way.
The picture is of my favourite piece of art, Toro by Picasso. He was rummaging in his garage and found an old bike seat and handlebars. That’s just the way his mind worked – everything could be turned into art.