Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Art as Life

There's a decent article over at the Guardian, about a gold toilet. Though it's always good for people to look at art and compare it to whatever currents are swimming through the zeitgeist, I sense that the author's obsession with the gold and the oligarchs most likely to buy such items, runs a little on the click bait side of things. Well, that's going a bit too far, but the last section of the article, which points out that it's in humanity's nature to stare at the goods of the rich.

I'm not saying there's no point to this statement. I agree that the very idea of staring at trophies of the rich is a large part of the art world. And in fact, [1] I sometimes wonder about myself in this regard. But there's also much of the art world which isn't about that. And there is also much outside of art galleries that speaks to the everyday person. [2]

The other question is how much does it matter if the rest of us refuse to be in awe of these trophies? One would like to think that any social value it has would deflate the entire edifice. But our disdain probably helps inflate the price too. How? Because it keeps the peasants at bay and allows those in the art world to have their own language for their pieces. [3]

So the question is what is one to make of a gold toilet you can use? Is it something the oligarchs want to buy as  states symbol? Do they already have it? And if so, what is the artist trying to say by showing it to the public? I'm certain it's a little more than just this is what the rich have. By merely showing it, it speaks to inequality, doesn't it? [4]

So perhaps then it's a great piece of art. [5]


[1] The main question is to ask who exactly is going to these art shows, and in general it's those attempting to emulate the selling of such pieces, or those in the middle classes who want to emulate those who buy such items. That, unfortunately, includes me on some level.

[2] I've mentioned street art more than a few times. And in many ways, even though this has been commercialized, it's still an art for everyone. 

[3] This ambiguity is something that is prized in the art world and helps to define a piece of art. And if you're someone rich buying something, what those experts say matters more than what the masses say in return. 

[4] That in of itself is another point. It could be by merely raising the question of a gold toilet the level of ambiguity has been achieved and the art is more sought after for that. If someone with less imagination like me were to make this, I would demand a wax sculpture of some poor person with a toilet scrub and a hand out next to it. But that's me. I thrive in the obvious. 

[5] I won't even step into the minefield of if this gold toilet speaks to the innate human need to like that which is shiny. Or perhaps as a statement against gold-buggism. Good times. 
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