"the deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent" - William Gibson

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I was trying to find a cetain painting byJasper Johns and i came across this great quote about art.

"When you begin to work with the idea of suggesting, say, a particular psychological state of affairs, you have eliminated so much from the process of painting that you make an artificial statement which is, I think, not desirable. I think one has to work with everything and accept the kind of statement which results as unavoidable, or as a helpless situation. I think that most art which begins to make a statement fails to make a statement because the methods used are too schematic or too artificial. I think that one wants from painting a sense of life. The final suggestion, the final statement, has to be not a deliberate statement but a helpless statement."

to me it articulates why political art even when good falls flat. ultimately, we want to see a "sense of life" from a painting or a film or a photo, not a statement. if your subject is politics or history or religion or something overtly polarizing, then show us a "sense" of that world of that life. don't be so conceited or narrowminded to think that you're going to affect change or that we'll agree with you. people will see what they want to see. i remember a vivid passage from Anthony Swofford's Jarhead(which is being made into a movie by Sam Mendes) where he describe his unit in the marines right before deploying to kuwait for Desert Storm. While they are preparing and enjoying a few last beers stateside they are watching all the classic Viet Nam films, platoon, Apocalypse now, full metal jacket.

Swofford says, "there is talk that many Vietnam films are antiwar...but actually Vietnam war films are all pro-war, no matter what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended...because the magic brutality of the film celebrates the terrible and despicable beauty of fighting..."

I apologize for butchering one of the most vivid and one my favorite passages of recent memory (the entire book is amazing) to make a point, but people see what they want when they look at art, or at least the artist is ultimately helpless to make a deliberate statement or message. so as artists we need to try accept this fact. we need to be helpless and try to paint our "sense of life" in as full a spectrum as we can stomach.


Post a Comment

<< Home