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[Xmca-l] Re: "cultivating Minds

For example, Abbie Hoffman throwing real and fake money onto the floor of the NYSE trading floor, was a political act, but it could be easily be performance art. Much of what he did was not unlike performance art.
I think I would say that it was precisely performance art, which is to say that it was a kind of theater. If art is effectively art at all, then it is always a kind of political speech--not simply in an agitprop way, but in that it is about us--citizens in the city, and it speaks to us to tell us who we were, who we are, and whither we are going. The Oresteia is great art--and at the same time deeply political, in that it defines a certain idea about the nature of that society that produced the narrative, and selected that play as the instrument of Athens's contemplation of itself, in the festival that honored Dionysius, the god of submersing individuality into a collective whole. 

For art to have meaning, it has to touch the strings of images and behaviors and beliefs shared or understood in a society, which tend to be fairly obvious when viewed out of the context of sharing that system of identity, even in a landscape. (Critical Theory). Art only becomes art if it plays upon these strings of shared complexes, and the narratives around them: narratives of money exchanges and greed, of justice and injustice, of the good life, or the misspent life, or whatever themes the narrative presents in images, actions, or words. Great art usually is an advocate for or against a way of seeing, a way of feeling, a way of being. And by capturing us within its forms, we are made to see and feel things that we may not wish to see or feel; we are invaded by images, sounds, feelings. Art began as, and remains, though we pretend otherwise, and treat it as a commodity, a kind of mystery cult of possession. When we stop and engage with art, to the degree to which it evokes the complexes within which we move, all too often thoughtlessly, we find ourselves lost in identity with the themes of our society, and at the same time deeply in touch with ourselves or confronted by ourselves--and in this opening up of ourselves, we are reshaped and remolded by the experience, in lesser or greater ways. That is its power and its mystery, and its eternal value. 



     From: Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
 To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> 
 Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:36 PM
 Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: "cultivating Minds

You are right. There will be on a listserv reiterations, which is always a good thing. Not sometimes.

And disagreements can also reiterate, which seems to be happening here. Is that a good thing? Not sure.

I stand by my original statement which was something like:  I am not able to group all performance artists into one group and reduce them as"doing" all the same things, and then call it stupid.

I cannot do that. I can't do that with painters, with musicians, with photographers, with filmmakers, with sculptors, with printmakers, with dancers. 

You can, and you are, and you are free to do that. 

I'd like to say that calling something NOT ART, or someone NOT AN ARTIST is a predictable process of dismissing people as unqualified to do art. Just like dismissing marginalized people has not having a voice in political process.

To comment about the argument about "What is Quality in Art?" is also a Very Old Theme in Art History, and Clement Greenberg is your guy for that. If you want to get into the conversations that have already been discussed on this you could perhaps visit Linda Nochlin's article "Why have there been no great women artists?"

I might choose to replace "women artists" with any other kind of artist who doesn't adhere to what is a "viable" artist in the hegemony of Western Art history and the essay would probably work, because it too is dealing with "What is the Quality of Art?" but from the standpoint of asking "WHO IS IT who says what is quality and what is NOT quality?". This essay was published in 1971, by the way.

In any case, I actually see a value to what performance artists do. I will not change my position, no matter how much you try to discredit the art AND it's ok that you don't like it. That doesn't bother me at all. 

Performance artists are working in a space of non-commodification. I like that. They are using their bodies in their artwork, but they can elect not to do that. It's not a requirement. But I find that in the performance artists that do use their bodies there is a great deal of courage required and personal risk. It's not just about sensationalism, there is an activist mentality there. I like that too.

For example, Abbie Hoffman throwing real and fake money onto the floor of the NYSE trading floor, was a political act, but it could be easily be performance art. Much of what he did was not unlike performance art. 

Much of activism _performed_ in a creative way IS performance art. Which means NOT ONLY artists in your so-called bourgeois venues can do it. Perhaps THE POINT that artists who literally masturbate in their performances IS to CRITICALLY COMMENT upon what you actually don't like about narcissistic performance. 

But see, one would have to read up on Art History to know this. 

Everything requires a context.

Kind regards,