Very honored to be featured on Aftenposten, the national Norwegian newspaper, for my presentation on redefining art. Pecha Kucha, the host for the presentation, is an amazing event and I am so happy to be have been a part of it. Please watch the video linked below, and feel free to contact us with any comments (good or bad, I can take some critique!). Below is a transcript of the lecture as well, as my horrifying lisp may make your ears bleed. (It is always terrible to hear yourself talk, but come on!)
And, of course, please keep an eye for our newest show which is the ideation of many of these concepts talked about in this lecture.
My name is Liz, and I am the founder of blankspace, a multi-purpose creative space here in Oslo that focuses on a lot of deficiencies in the art world today – mainly the improper distribution of media coverage for all different types of art, and how this inadequacy alienates a lot of average people from becoming interested in art.
Art can be anything, and in it everything can be said. I believe that anything done with a true passion, and in a way that pushes the boundaries of its limitations is art. You can even say that art is, at its core, the truest expression of the soul that can be made by man. But, we have some 7.11 billion people in the world, so that is a lot of different kinds of souls making a lot of different kinds of art.
The problem is with mainstream media’s ill proportionate coverage of all the different kinds of art. If you flip open a newspaper, or more likely, open a new tab and scroll through the ‘Culture’ section of any publication, I am guessing what you would see would all be very, very similar.
Not necessarily in shape, or color, or message or meaning and so on and so on- but, it would all be very conceptual and very modern, ‘fine-art’ driven applications of art. They would most likely require a large amount of contextual information, and often times, a greater understanding of very difficult concepts that even many educated persons don’t find enjoyable.
But what about these? Comic books. Animation. Street Art. Fashion. Cartoons. We do have 7.11 billion different ways of expressing ourselves, but the problem lies not in the lack of people making it but instead of how the media and the average population limits their idea of what art can be defined as.
The problem became prominent during the Pop and Modern art movements, which can be traced back to Dada and Surrealist movements, which stems from Impressionism, Expressionism, and then Abstractionism. Most of the art that was made before these was pretty representational – meaning everyone understood knew what they were looking at. (Nude ladies lounging on a couch, war scenes, rich guys, etc.)
Then these new art movements came along and started finding beauty in everyday objects and painting abstract and hard to represent things such as emotions, memories, and feelings. These different subject matters eventually shifted the majority of how people came to view art, with a mental instead of visual focus.
Art has always been linked to money – the only people who could afford art were the rich, and it was one of the best ways to show off your high status in society. But, at least the poor people understood what they were looking at. Art was often used instead of words because poor people couldn’t always read. Hey, this is a famous general. This is Jesus and his disciples. This is some good looking food.
But after Surrealist, Dadaist, Pop and Modern Movements average people became alienated because the concepts became so clouded in context. Not everyone was, or is, educated in art– today only 4.6% of all people are educated in any type of art (visual, performing, audio) so this leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation from the ‘uneducated’.
People couldn’t understand why Duchamp put a urinal upside down in a museum. They didn’t get how old magazine clippings haphazardly tossed on a canvas was art. This left average audience members feeling confused, distant and disconnected from the art they had heard so much about.
But that 4.6% really loved it: they wrote about it, went to openings, talked about it and most importantly is that they bought it. For a lot of money. They made everyone else feel like they were missing out on all the fun, the great parties and the intellectual debates.
But that other 95.4% didn’t understand what they were missing, just that they were missing out. So, they went back to their jobs as accountants, farmers, grocery store clerks, nurses and just figured that art wasn’t for them. This is an important distinction to make.
But the fact that in almost every major city in the world Art Museums are one of the top 5 major tourist attractions, and in places like London, are each of the top 5 major attractions, tells you that everyone wants to give it a second chance. But when the vacation is over, they go back to their regular lives with no art openings, no exhibitions, and no coffee table books.
The mass majority of people feel unaccepted from the very thing that is supposed to be all encompassing and understanding. After all, before you even learn to read, you learn about the world through picture books or photographs. The sad thing is, is that we have unused avenues today that can help these people feel reconnected to art.
If we are ballsy enough to assume that those 4.6% artistically educated persons are interested in contemporary art, that still leaves a whopping 6,783,000,000 who aren’t connected to art today. But there are other forms of art there which just don’t receive the correct publicity – sure, there are groups and forums and interest pages for those who are, but I am talking about main stream media exposure.
Take into account that Norway is not only one of the richest countries in the world, but one offering some of the largest artist to grant funds in the world and that , on average, 9/10 recipients to these funds are contemporary artists, you can begin to understand how the picture has become so skewed.
Let me make this very, very clear – I am not against contemporary art. Not even bad contemporary art. I will always stand by people wanting to make any art they want to make. But the amount of representation of contemporary, modern, and ‘intellectual’ art is not accurately proportionate to how little their piece of the ‘art world’ pie really is.
We must change the way people view art. We must break down this barrier of exclusivity and embrace other forms of art that exist today so that we can grow together. We must start an open and honest dialogue between artist and audience to better stimulate a lasting experience for both parties.
At blankspace we try very hard to fill all these gaps. By offering exhibitions that focus on other types of artistic expression, we are trying to bridge that gap between artwork and viewer. We also host drawing workshops and classes for enthusiasts of all levels, as well as lectures and seminars. A lot of our exhibitions are display only, and many others are specifically targeted towards low income audiences.
I would love to further the discussion and am always looking for new opinions. Feel free to grab me out of the crowd after the show or stop by so we can exchange ideas and work together to strengthen the art community for everyone involved – and help make it easier for those who aren’t. Thank you!