Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Kate asked us to write something about what we thought art is. I call myself a visual artist so I should have a broader opinion of this but if we are talking about what makes sense to us then I need to go to a very small definition as the bigger ones just sound like truisms. I made the piece above when I was heavily involved in Burngreave's' New deal for communities program probably in 2001. I had been a dad at home for 7 years and this was the first piece of art I'd made for a 3 or 4 years. It's not subtle - John Berger in the book a fortunate man says that the opportunity to be subtle is a privilege and I think he is probably right. It does however somehow capture how we all felt, cooped up in an area defined by it's need and not it's strengths, vilified from outside and exploited by migrant regeneration workers who slaughtered naive hope like Bill Cody shooting buffalo on the prairie.
Yet art can say something straight and occasionally if it good it can say it clearer than words. Yes it a bunch of dolls in traditional national dress in a fishbowl, weighted down for display or metaphorical suicide but as we peered into it's depths the realisation that all we are is a representation of our stereotype, the construction and opinion of people from outside who have no real understanding of what is going on inside. Art is one of many ways to understand the world and communicate and build understanding with others. It can also be shit, dangerous, lazy and inconsequential this is it's strength.