The new book of interviews Jasper Who?
from zingmagazine books, an independent divsion of zingmagazine, a curatorial crossing, www.zingmagazine.com
, by the man on the street Kenny Schachter. Kenny travels through Harlem, Wall Street, Soho, and Midtown, asking over a hundred people "Does art have any relevance in your life?" That is always the first of many questions.
Follow-ups include but are not limited to: "Is there a particular work of art that has moved you in any way?" "Is beauty an important aspect of an artwork?" "What do you think of contemporary art?" "Do you think art is only accesible to the rich?" "What do you think of museums?"
Lastly he presents a list of artists usually starting with Picasso, and asks, "Can you tell me if you know who these people are or could you comment on them?" Picasso? Yes. Andy Warhol? He came into it as a joke. Duchamp? No. Jackson Pollock? Yo, that is ridiculous. Dali? The melted clock guy. Roy Lichtenstein? Oh, I think I have one of his original works. Tracey Emin?
No. John Currin?
He's from Boulder right? Matthew Barney?
You know, I'm with the Monet. Cecily Brown?
So, that's my own out-of-context mixed-matched examples of the Q&A.
Schachter in his introductory interview says, "In an effort to prove how alienated and esoteric the art world has become, I always say, when I talk to university students, that if you interviewed 100 people on the street and asked them if they were familiar with Matthew Barney, less than 1% would recognize the name. So, I decided to test my theory, and I conducted (as he admits without 'scientific method') the interviews myself. Guess what? I found out I was right."
There are a few ironies to be found within the book, firstly that most of the artists Schachter uses in his list are in more than one sense of the word, painters, and the list also only really deals with artists in the US or England, and from the brief bit of research I've done on those names I didn't recognize, and the ones I did, Basquiat is the only recognizable black artist. I suppose my difficulty is with those sources used in reference to the ART WORLD, which clearly seemed to be outside of Pop Culture, sorry Bob Ross, because nearly everyone answered yes, art does have relevance, and they all showed considerable personal and opinionated, if not always academic, understanding of what that relevance was, often veering away from painting, showing as Schachter says of his discovery, "...art is prominent in the minds of many people as a personalized inward notion of creativity."
This could be and may well be related to the Post WWII German artist Joseph Beuys and his idea of The Expanded Concept of Art -Schachter mentions him, but unfortunately not in this context.
Some Beuys for you:
"The principle of resurrection, transforming the old structure, which dies or stagnates, into a vibrant life-enhancing and soul-and spirit-promoting form. This is the expanded concept of art."
"For me, the word produces all images. It is the key sign for all modeling and organizational processes. When I use language, I try to produce the thrust of this power... the power of evolution."
"What I think ought to be contained in every human action: the dignity of the self-determination of one's own life and one's own gestures, and the modesty of our actions and our work in every moment. All this is expressed without any great fuss, in a very quiet way."
So it is that art is called on to celebrate that which nourishes this evolution, and the theatre in which the process takes place every day -Nature.
Schachter has given us proof of the divide within the 'art world', but you won't get too many answers from all of Schachter's questions, though he says, "The solution is for people in the trenches of the art world to look beyond their tiny, familiar audience..."
How about Universal Education?