Is art important? I was thinking this yesterday when contemplating ‘the art life’. If your whole life is wrapped up in something then you can easily become so immersed perhaps you can’t see the wood for the trees? To those of us outside (or on the fringes) of the artworld it can seem a strange and perilous place but maybe when you are so totally in it, it is possible to loose touch with the real non-art world?
Confused? Well I read this from John Hurrell in the comments on a review of work by Tao Wells “Have a think about the term ‘littoral’, an adjective applied to art that is between ‘the artworld’ and ‘the lifeworld’. (It comes from the tidal strip on the beach between the high tide and the low water mark. There are some online papers written on this sort of art by Bruce Barber and also Ian Hunter.) It is used when artists abandon the artworld and devote all their energies to assisting social change, and helping certain communities. It is an extreme position I know, but a good one to know about.” Although I seldom agree with JH’s online commentary it is an idea worth looking in to in a broader context than Tao Wells work.
The thing is, art is extremely important to a lot of people, me included – says the person who ran over a Clairmont with the pram today (a reproduction – phew!). So why…?
Well one theory I have is that art is about story telling. This was really brought home by the reaction from many quarters to the piece I wrote about trains. It seems like trains play a major role in the public consciousness, including the train group who liked that I mentioned so many (now disused) railway stations in my post. In fact lots of people told me their railway stories. But I digress, the thing is, most art tells some sort of story and it seems that people like stories. Visual art is one way of relaying those stories. Maybe the stories are obscure or just the start of a conversation, maybe just a word. Some art is the anti-story, some artists are telling a story to themselves but it all seems to say something (to me anyway). Art is also many layered and there is the artists intent and the viewers interpretation, which although some may not like it, I beleive is just as valid. Art is changed by context, in location and time.
This is all so waffly so here is an image that you can interpret.