Wednesday, November 15, 2006
A Defense Of The Indefinite
I am always surprised by people's notions of what is or isn't art. They are often so disparate, even among artists themselves, the only rational conclusion is that nobody knows what art is, they just know what they like.Artists don't like a lot of other artists, especially if they are near-contemporaries, if they work in media and methods too different – or too similar – to their own, of if they're selling better. Note that none of these have anything really to do with art.Gallerists and curators are even more self-serving. They don't like art that doesn't need them as intermediaries to define, aggregate and value it for the viewer. In other words, they don't like art that strays off the somewhat elitist reservation they have worked so hard to create – for the artists, they are quick to assure us, even it's really for themselves.The one thing everybody agrees on is that art isn't about money, even if the best-known artists these days are earning almost as much as the hedge fund managers and bond traders who are propping up contemporary art prices in London and New York. Or is it? When recently, for the second time, I created a work to be distributed via the web and reproduced in an unlimited edition by anyone who was interested, I was accused of devaluing art, of being a shameless self-promoter, and of behaving like K-Mart and offering a free sample to entice more customers into the store. Worse, I was told the work itself wasn't art, or if it was, it wasn't much good.I thought about how I might try to explain why I did it, to try to reason with even the nastiest critics, but then I realised that to do so would be like trying to come up with a definition of art that works for everybody. For some people, nothing I say would work. So, fuck it, I'm just going to let what I think is art and the way I've chosen to distribute it speak for itself – even if, ultimately, it's derided or misunderstood.