Friday, August 28, 2015

What is art?

"Art is anything you can get away with", said Marshall McLuhan, a quote ofttimes credited to Andy Warhol, but one that illustrates one of the great misconceptions in deciding what art is - that is, deciding who created anything in the first place.

Damián Ortega, writing in bent rebar, to appear as if written on the landscape, original tags of those not considered artists.

So is art original? Or must it be original to be considered art? Not according to Damián Ortega in his showing on the High Line. His work, bent rebar adaptations of graffiti tags, solidly steals the tags themselves from city walls, created by urban youth, and 'appropriates' it as art, not having the gonads for him to have tagged it in the first place.

Appropriate is the art world's way of saying that stealing is ok, or more nicely, borrowing – so that in this case, the original creator gets nothing, no support, whilst Mr. Ortega becomes the benefactor of the High Line curator's budget through, partially, the National Endowment for the arts and a showing in a more than public place - not an ally, like the original artist did. 

But is it art? If a curator says it is, it becomes - not the work of the original artist, but the work of an adaptor making it acceptable to a wealthy, white people dominated scene of 'art'. It is, essentially, 'what that artist was able to get away with' - but in this case, with a curator's blessing. And so he/she profits from this art, but the originator does not - making appropriation the art instead of creation.

#iTOMB Cynic 06.07.15

And so what of our work. Is it art? We work in freedom of expression as opposed to art. As I explain often, the making of the work is a social exercise with art as the medium. Should art happen, it's a bonus. Or as Marshall McLuhan said, many years ago:

"The business of art is no longer the communication of thoughts or feelings which are to be conceptually ordered, but a direct participation in an experience. The whole tendency of modern towards participation in a process, rather than apprehension of concepts."*

Thank you Mr. McLuhan. At that, we'll be art.


Although we love the compliments, telling me what a wonderful idea #iTOMB is, 
doesn't support the project or help us in any way. 

Here's what does:

HOUSING: In November this artist needs a home on an artist’s budget. Discuss with David.

PRIVATE BOOKINGS: We are available to adapt this fun, interactive, expressive activity to schools, non-profits, private parties and corporate events. Already we’ve partnered with McCann Erickson, Seton Hall University, Columbia and NEST+m NYC Public School. Ask David about options.

EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION PROGRAMS/INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKING: With an award-winning 30+ year career as an Advertising Creative Director for Sony, Nintendo, Samsung, LG, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Procter and Gamble, BAT, American Airlines and the Korean Ministry of Finance, David is uniquely qualified as a mentor, motivator and creative agitation officer for all levels of creative decision making staff. Programs can include variants of #iTOMB with Powerpoint, breakout sessions and critical thought inspiring exercises and goals. Stop telling your staff to think outside the box and show them how.

PRESS REFERRALS: Refer us to your favorite newspaper, magazine, social media or TV show. You are our best PR!

GRANT REFERRALS: Refer us to related Community/Arts Grant programs. Funding is key.

MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS: As the world’s largest collection of publicly painted works, #iThinkOutsideMyBox has discussed exhibitions and interactive programs with a number of museums but has yet to schedule a showing. If you are a curator or know someone who is, we’d love an introduction.

BUY A PRINT: A $50 donation buys a handmade fine art print on acid-free, water colour paper, remounted to cardboard of any print on display here or on our website.

COMMISSION ARTWORK: Commission David for hand lettering and activist oriented fine art.

*Letter to Harold Adam Innis, March 14 1951. FEssential McLuhan (1995), edited by Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone, p. 73

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