Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Art is not just about you

Safer to trust art than those who may dismiss it. Art, to me is so fascinating as it is so personal and global.

Art echoes throughout human history.

There is a deep connection between art and humanity, where maybe a bit of pressure and need to fit into a small space, inspired my favorite answer to the question of what it is. That was expressed in a tweet in response to a question from San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in its feed:


To me? I get the best lines sometimes. And think I capture the timelessness aspect of art there, but will admit fear on the potential fragility. That art can be lost is known, but that can also be taken away.

Like with Roman art where time took much, but quite a bit got preserved from the ancient city of Pompeii in a unique tragedy, as a volcano dumped tons of ash on the city, killing most of its inhabitants.

But some Victorians came across the reality of the ancient world centuries after, which clashed with their culture and its views about the visibility of sexuality. Lots was explicitly sexual, and Victorians pushed their temporary views as world has moved on, against what should have been carefully preserved as belonging to humanity. And the Victorian period came and went, but the destruction wreaked upon Roman artifacts was of course lasting.

While some may debate how much was actually art, regardless just for historical perspectives would have been so much better if they had separated their feelings and prejudices from the question of preservation.

How one feels is transient. People come and go. But some individuals act from feelings which in an unfortunate opportunity can impact much. Which gets me thinking about erotomania.

Turns out some people can feel like are in love with someone never met, which is usually a celebrity. Which sadly leads to any number of news stories, like if break into a home, or even worse attempt some assault or succeed in a murder, like if decided was spurned. Such people can be said to be moved strongly by the art of someone else, and fail to separate that personal feeling from the public reality.

And the simple idea I think is to just accept that art is not just about you. It's not just about me. Art is bigger than all of us.

That art is not just about you is one of those things which I think can bug people.

After all you can appreciate art.

It takes people appreciating it for it to be considered art, which can be a controversial subject as well when people debate, over whether or not something IS art.

If can move you so personally, how can art not be about YOU?

And there is the conundrum I think. To me? Art is about some shared human core which can somehow transcend boundaries like space and even time, so that art from thousands of years ago can still resonate with us today.

Looking to ourselves for reference is not wrong. And I definitely tend to the meta in lots of things.

But when you see that art, which can be about so many things, like a picture with a model in a photograph, or a great painting, and she's smiling beguilingly at you? No she isn't. Or he isn't. Or someone transgender is not.

Why is worth it to remind that art at its best can appeal to millions or maybe even billions? That's not about me.

That is about art.

That art can seem to be smiling at you. Is smiling at something else that somehow only the artist understands in that creative moment from some place we may never completely understand? Or is the artist a tool for something greater smiling through outside of even the artist's understanding?

There is that endless question too then about art: art, how do you move me?

The silence we can fill with our own words, but those unlike the art will slowly drift away in time.

Silence can be there for generations to ponder as long after us, as long as there are humans.


James Harris