The Insignificance of Art

doondo2.JPGPeter Bies: Donald Duck on PCP (1994)Aw… I’m supposed to come up yet with another piece of biased, resentful rant for the sake of simulating some kind of intellectual discourse. I don’t want to! I don’t have to! All I want right now is to be outright anti-intellectual.Because I’m devastated! Germany’s got pounded at the Grand Prix d’Eurovision Schluchz! Heul!Well, serves her right. Who wants to listen to a couple of stuck-up tarts and their Ibiza disco crap anyway?Right now, my mind is a blank. You see? I’m desperate. And I’m making a complete fool of myself, acting like a whining drama queen. I’m freaking out…!To tell you the truth, I’m just a little disappointed because I haven’t had much of a response to my painting last week. “Olaf & his Electrik Nazis”, remember? The first and only work of art I’ve ever shown on Artdoxa so far… Now that was intended to be some kind of eventI expected at least one or two members to gladly tear my Machwerk to pieces. Yeah… right. I’m so vain. And I’m a glutton for punishment… Well – you probably didn’t take me serious. Or my art. Is that so? Fine. I couldn’t care less. I could resent that ignorance. I could resent that indifference. But I don’t. In fact, art doesn’t mean that much to me. There. I’ve said it.Are you aware that, as a rule, our precious art is an abysmally elitist affair with hardly any intellectual significance and no social impact whatsoever? There’s exceptions to the rule. True. Look at Ana Alvarez-Errecalde’s decidedly radical feminist attitude. But most of us are busily devoting all of our strength and effort to a – to a Minderheitenprogramm. Minority business. A cultural niche for specialists and solipsists, for an educated and highly discriminating bourgeois minority. You see – I feel that art is basically… well… a geek thing. There’s only one thing more obsolete and obscure than art – and that’s poetry…And being an artist sounds just as absurd as being a poet. Oh well… I guess it’s a way of life. I like to sleep late, you know. I suppose my pretensions of being an artist might have something to do with that.But pop music and architecture are so much more important. I need pop music as a reference system to file away my memories.Architecture? You can get a hundred years old and die happily without ever having been to a museum. Or to an art show. You can do without art. But you’re a user of architecture. In any case. Everybody is. And was. Throughout history. Exposed to architecture. That’s what I call significance. That’s what I call impact.To reconcile those who find my attitude offensive or too simplifying, here’s a vintage specimen of my very own variety of l’art brut. You see, I take the highest risks to achieve social significance. So… sue me, Disney Corp.!Anyone of you ready to denounce this? Anybody? No?Oh well… I guess the majority of you is simply too nice to be as mean and revengeful and opinionated as I want you to be.I won’t hold this against you.Alles Liebe,Peter

29 thoughts on “The Insignificance of Art

  1. Yey, insignificant, irrelevant, a stupid thing to do if you aim something.
    But that makes it different as an activity.
    Einstein said: “Only those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible.”
    No, it is not even that what art is about. It is useless for achieving anything, because it has it´s aim within itself. Oh no, not that old l´art pour l´art discussion again, however when Peter starts it again …

    Art is a private, intimate, silent thing that happens in you head – it is not consumed in masses. And it needs manyfold conditions to take place – it is not a public happening. All attempts to breakout of this “cage”, to be loud, to be heard, to be significant are absurd and in best cases funny, but as insignificant as any other art that avoids this silly attitude.
    Jonathan Meese could smash his head against any wall as often as he wants to. The only thing he is proofing is that he won´t break out of this boundaries – at least that is entertaining.

    Social significance is the main aspect of art that the big art events like documentas or biennales are claiming to since years (without any rellevance of course). This is annoying and only harming art and artists. I deply respect the wish of Ana Alvarez-Errecalde to show us this moment in the life of mother and child for political and social reasons. This is journalism not art. And all attitude cannot substitute form.

    By the way from: “Donald Duck on PCP” wishes to be louder than he is: the red is striking dead the delicate grayscales, Peter. Less is more, quiter is louder …

    You can compare architecture, music, poetry and art or as well panncakes, tires, underware and art with the same result. All is done by people and is needed more or less everyday – art is different. I personally take it as a blessing if an unknown artwork blows me away every 3 years or if I do a work that might be worth to stay every 5 years. What more could one expect?!?

    Art is the most humble thing and precious because of that. And it is very demanding on the other hand: preperation, presentation, reception. It is only natural that it is a minority thing.

    But I think you are lying if you claim that art is not meaning that much to you, Peter. You just try to resist the idea that it means so much to you, while everybody else is turning away. We have to stand that – just like the fact that not even our lives really count.

    Best wishes,

  2. Right.
    Jochen – I KNEW this would happen.
    But I feel I have to tease you every once in a while.
    To provoke this kind of fundamentalist reaction.
    And usually you take the bait and your response is stern and uncompromising.
    The essential statement.
    The principal defense of art and beauty and everything you hold dear.
    Thank you.
    Do you feel threatened when I make light of art in such a casual, nihilistic way?
    I like to say: Artists! Don’t be TOO serious!
    I enjoy that.
    And you’ll say: You HAVE to be serious!
    Or else you’ll stay in an ineffective, infantile approach forever!
    But playfulness is as much a part of art as is seriousness, isn’t it?

    Frohes Schaffen!

  3. Und: Jochen!
    Many thanks for commenting on my old piece!
    Quieter is louder… true… well… sometimes.
    I’m not really a soft-spoken person, you know.
    Kein Mann der leisen Töne.

  4. Peter, I really appreciate how you tease me 😉
    I hear you loud and clearly – and I like what you say, because this refelections are bringing me closer to a feeling of understanding. Keep on!

  5. i wish i coud tear this piece of crap apart with words of disgust and anger, hate you and your work, but…: Strange, …. i LIKE what i see… (ok, make it black and red and i like everything..) I could have never guessed what kind of art you do…i will need to see more to really say something about it – but i promise i will be straightforward and tell yo what i think.. So please..if you’re realy ready for criticism..: Don’t ‘hide’ your art here like Leopold said, show it on ARTDOXA as well!!! You have a profile, so…. GO AHEAD!!!! Your fan.

  6. My english and my too little knowledge of the whole”art” discussion makes it dificult(sp?) for me to follow your words, but,as far as I understand I`m on Peters side. Art isv taken far to seriuos by the artists and the consumers of it, the “normal” people cant follow at all. So I think Peter is right to say architecture and popmusic are more interesting, because the mob is consuming this. But that shouldnt stop anyone from painting or any other technique that shows his/hers reality inside.
    But if you`re no professional in art buisness, its hard to take part or find sympathy to the life in the Elfenbeinturm, most artist seem to live in.
    And, Peter, I like your painting very much, I havent tried PCP(Jochen has?), but I imagine that its loud or even louder.
    I like the red, the painting needs it.
    Go ahead!

  7. Thanks for all of your feedback.
    Leopold & Felix: You’re right, I shouldn’t ‘hide’ any longer.
    ‘Mob’ is a bit strong, Vincent.
    But basically you’ve got the message.
    And no, I haven’t tried PCP, Jochen hasn’t either –
    but I advise strongly against it.

  8. What I meant to say is, that art is hardly any longer a matter of public discussion or interest.
    It’s a matter of specialists.
    It’s regrettable, but that’s the way things are.
    We’re all specialists, “geeks”, sort of.

  9. By the way: It was never ever any different. In these days art is by far more present than ever, but it was and stays special interest, because this is the nature of the game.
    What a week argument that anything is more relevant to the individual because it matters to the masses. Is that what Peter and Vincent are really stating here?
    Does the art or the artists or the audience or anyone profit in any why by saying art is not important? I do not get the point: If you do not take art serious then leave it … nobody holds you back from caring about the “more interesting or important” things.

    And what fucking “elfenbeinturm” – there are just two busloads of artists on planet who can make a proper living out of that. Everybody else is making a living without any ivory.

  10. ok, ok, art does mean too much to me – my fault.

    But significance for the society stays an illusion.
    When and where was it, that art was “a matter of public discussion or interest”, Peter?

  11. Okay Jochen… you’ve asked for it.
    Classic Athens, around 450 BC.
    A patrician could have a heated discussion with a blacksmith on the marketplace any time…
    Over Phidias or Polykleites and their latest works.
    Everybody was a critic in his or her own right.
    “This time he’s gone to far, my dear Solon!”
    Art was not a specialist affair.

    What about Chartres, 1150?
    Or any other place with a cathedral?
    Think of the anonymous townspeople of Cologne, Winchester, Amiens…
    Makers of cathedrals.
    Whole townships devoted to the construction of the great work…
    And Florence in 1500?
    In those times art mattered in a way unimaginable for us people today.
    It WAS a matter of general public interest then.
    Its significance for society was far from being an “illusion”.

    I’m not denouncig the fine arts.
    Nor any individual artistic effort.
    Art, poetry, music… who of us could want to live without one or the other?
    That’s what culture is all about – in contrast to mere civilization.
    It’s only that in former times art was much more a matter of a collective – of combined effort and mutual consent.
    Today, architecture and pop music, TV and video games reflect my understanding of art
    much more explicitly, intelligibly.
    Aesthetic creation and symbolic forms as a collective phenomenon, as a social emergence.
    Grand Theft Auto IV reflects contemporary individual and collective fears and hopes just as well as did the Lascaux cave paintings for those paleolithic hunters.
    (For many, pop mythology, along with art, has become a kind of ersatz religion…dazu später…)

    Jochen: My view on art isn’t exactly new, but maybe too anthropological for your taste.
    Basically, it’s all in the difference between ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’.
    Ours is a civilization.
    Western civilization.
    Athens in 450 BC was a culture.

  12. Vincent:
    I like the red, too.
    Thank you, pal.
    Jochen says it’s too loud compared to those delicate shades of grey.
    But, Jochen, it’s not exactly a delicate or subtle painting.
    It IS loud.
    It’s grotesque.
    And that’s why I was comfortable with a loud red.

  13. Athens in 450 BC or Florence in 1500 … ok, here imagination substitutes illusion.
    I think it is more the way we want it to be than the way it was.
    Civilization vs. Culture this is topic that needs a closer or wider look – maybe another time or place. For me it is a question of do or die in this time and world. And that is in your view maybe to narrow.

    To the red: there is nothing to say against loud or grotesque, but something against claiming to be so. The red frame is just a bit too simple way to adrenalize it in compare to the painting itself, which I like.

  14. WHAT?
    “Donald Duck on PCP”?
    And I’m just CLAIMING to be loud or grotesque?
    Jochen – don’t you get it?
    It IS grotesque.
    It’s meant to be.
    No hidden agenda.
    Too simple?
    It is downright CHEAP!
    It’s wall paint on cardboard.
    With a loud red frame as a glaring fail-safe “adrenalizer”!
    (Thank you for that one!)
    Now if that isn’t cheap!
    And you know how I got those delicate shades of grey?
    Scratching around in the wet paint with the tip of the brush handle…
    I’ll do it again.
    This time with delicate valeurs of chiaroscuro…
    Good night!

  15. What are you writing Felix degust, hate, anger? You are interpret my words competely different than what I mean. It’s a well meant universal Complement !!! to Peters many given Comments wo I offen read. I have try to write it with humour and this was the moment to let him know it.
    Some comments are just like art, poetic etc. and also to collect like the art favorit art pieces.
    ….And I would never say what someone should do, don’t understand me wrong. Of course go on in what you want to do!
    Maybe I have written it not very skilfully.
    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  16. Hi Leopold!

    Comparing my comments to art or poetry – that IS a universal compliment
    Sweet! Thank you!

    (You know, as far as I know Felix – it was just irony!)

  17. @Leopold: My comment had absolutely nothing to do with yours…!! Now this is a misunderstanding: i wrote ‘i wish i coud tear this piece of crap apart with words of disgust and anger, hate you and your work, but…: Strange, …. i LIKE what i see…’ – these words simply aim at peter’s request to be ‘grilled’ and to get feedback on his work. Since Peter asked for strong criticism in an ironic way, this was simply my way of saying i WISH i could criticise it, but i LIKE it. Sorry Leopold, but it had NOTHING to do with you! Best, Felix

  18. To create the piece ¨The Birth of My Daughter¨ I was the one who prepared the tripod, the camera, the lighting and the seemless next to the place I gave birth.
    My decision to present this work as part of my art was based on a number of reasons. In a very obvious way it is related to the directions of my other photographic work: For the most part I delve into my family album (personal relationships), my personal history, the way that women view themselves and I question the accepted norm of how women can be viewed.
    I have a social political view about birth (and life) that I think is very infrequently represented. I feel that it is a mistake and an injustice to consider birth as an illness to be treated.
    I believe in the power of art to create new ways of thinking so I figured that it was good to show these photos to create dialog and debate.
    Right now I live in Spain, and I have exhibited this diptych a few times. A cultural magazine from one of the main Spanish newspaper´s decided to print it in the centerfold almost a year after censoring it. I think it is good to add a different view of a maternity (especially a self portrait) into contemporary art. I´m getting closer to my goal now that I have been invited to exhibit in a group show with Judy Chicago, Mary Kelly, Tania Bruguera, Ouka Lele and other women who touch upon similar themes.

  19. Jochen:
    On second reading I feel it is just unverschämt to say the grandeur of the classic age of Athens or Renaissance Florence were just a matter of imagination on my side. The Parthenon… imagination? Kölner Dom… imagination? Take a look for yourself.

  20. Peter, if we talk about significance of art, I understood that you meant for the (all) people: “… intellectual significance and no social impact”, not only for the geeks of all times. I completly agree that we are specialists and I disagree if someone says that that was different – I did not doubt the “grandeur of the classic age” – please read again;)

    In contrast: As far as I see today art, design, fashion, architecture has by far more influence on the individual in compare to “Athens in 450 BC or Florence in 1500”. Nobody could afford that but the elite – building and reception. Art at that times was definitly a job of and for geeks. Today we have so many “Acropolis”, it is hard to figure them out. Is anyone complaining that the superstars, the Leitkultur, has gone?

    Another important things: The social, political and mainly religious function of art has fundamently changed since 17th century by leaving the frame of ceremonial decoration and becoming middle-class commission. The self commissioning artist is even younger, but nervertheless completly affecting all our concepts concerning art. Of course we could compare the positions of art today and then, but with not much more result like we could expect by comparing theinfrastructure or so.

    Beyond that I understood that it is better for me not to take art too serious, thanks to your hint and this discussion. That is exactly the point: to get the right balance.
    Ans so, Peter: it would be valuable if you would take your art (your words) more serious and significante than ever! “… There. I’ve said it.”

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