IF my opinion mattered enough to declare it forthright, Eye would inform the reader that the entirety of the universe is “just an art project.”
One might argue that any NON-ART object or thought—or even absence thereof—would be wholly separate from the fabric of the universe, and thus deserving of immediate deification. GOD IS NOT ART.
In a world where everything and anything can be art, the elusive prospect of encountering some inherently non-art artifact is enough to give me a debilitating case of the Stendhal Syndrome. So titillating is the thought of irrefutable non-art that I irrelevantly declare it the pinnacle of all artistic endeavors.
But forget my thought process: I’m a conceptual shark attacking my own humanity from all sides in hopes of revealing the machinery of my higher self, which has no intentions.
Let’s take a look at some people—artists—who have bowed to the necessity of conceptually dissolving the very thing that animates their livelihood. And if the deconstruction of art by artists is not art for its own sake, I just don’t know what is.
BRUCE LABRUCE, who may or may not identify as a person, is certainly an artist. The Reigning Tsar of ArtPorn in cinema and cinema’s meta-narrative for decades was asked:
“Art is not a walk in the park. Art is not what you do when you can’t think of anything else to do. Art is not what you think it is. Art is not life. Art is not.”
Art is not. GOD IS NOT ART. What is not art?
WHITNEY KIMBALL, who I reckon the most credible art critic in existence, was terse:
I could ponder this for a lifetime but let’s just say I digress. I have a 666-word count and little more, no less.
L.A.-based art dealer and art consultant ANNIE WHARTON is a bit more forthcoming:
Performance artist SIGNE PIERCE initially agreed to answer this interview question but later decided that it might not be art to engage, stating that what’s really the highest art is declining to participate entirely. I can’t help but agree with her.
Poet, model, and actress ELYSE CIZEK has a list of what is not art, “Clear plastic wrapping on tampons and tiny single-use soaps. Expiration dates. Safety measures. Pressed accessible umbrellas. Pre-designed condo buildings in custom colors with balconies overlooking abandoned construction sites where the next one was supposed to be. Upheld plans to go over your taxes.”
Performance artist LENA MARQUISE, the only artist I know who has received the high honor of having one of her works called “not art” by The Huffington Post, stated “It is and it isn’t” attesting to the perceptual quality of the subject matter.
This is conceptually reinforced in the reply proffered by actor (and whistler) BASHIR DAVIID NAIM, who plays a recurring character on the show Transparent:
Bashir seems to favor the latter interpretation. Although maybe Bashir is speaking in the abstract—a contextual vacuum in which art is being considered apart from all considerations of what it is or isn’t. Art, like life, is what we make of it, and is only as valuable or as relevant as we say it is.
Amongst all professions and trades, there is no other quite like the art world wherein practitioners and voyeurs alike can confer or deprive constitutive belonging status at their whims. A chronically underperforming dentist would not be accused of not being a dentist, rather, they would be called “a bad dentist.”
Even a klutzy ballerina would not be denigrated as a non-ballerina, but instead, would suffer the alliterative augury of being “a bad ballerina.”
Seattle-based artist CALENTE CARDWELL seems acutely aware of this definitive conundrum as he replied:
“There is certainly more than one thing that could justify itself as the answer, if not equal opposite answers that would argue the other answers, inevitably justifying themselves. Everything, Anything, Nothing. Anything. Nothing At All. All Things.”
Perhaps this, then, is what sets the art world apart from just about everything else. The eye of the beholder is itself the commodity, once it is removed from its own perspectival place.
The Oracle JULIA SINELNIKOVA, a multimedia installation artist based in Brooklyn, responded:
“It’s as if everything leading up to the dismantling of art itself is art in its own right.”
As is the case with any conversation which wholly affirms the relativistic quality of the meaning of life as a matter of passing euphoric assumption, perhaps the self-deterministic query of the art conversation is its highest purpose.
In keeping with this, from my vantage point it would appear that the most interesting art of today is being produced along the fault lines of this thematic concern, and that the most important art of any generation is accused of not being art.
Once everyone agrees on a question that is inherently perspectival, perhaps there is no need for any further perspective. Thus every piece of art offered by an artist is itself a definitive response to the question :
“What is not art?