Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Give it up
(Francis Alÿs, still from Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing), 1997)
Nothing but pans in the press for the Francis Alÿs retrospective at MoMa. The drumbeat is satisfying, because, as the basis for good art, ideas are losing support. Especially when these ideas are samey and pat. It seems prominent New York critics want something to look at, not think about. Me too.
I’ve always felt strongly that artists should be responsible, even when provocative. If an artist is going to put something out into the public realm, she should know the concepts behind it. That being said, more and more what I want from art viewing is pleasure – not entertainment, but pleasure. And for me pleasure in art usually means seeing. Seeing makes me feel good. Even seeing difficult things can feel good.
This brings me to the idea of generosity. What is art giving us? In Christian Viveros-Fauné’s review of the Alÿs show, he uses the word generosity twice. First as way to distinguish between conceptual art actions (masturbating in a gallery vs. founding a political party); second, to describe what and how much is given to the viewer.
This doesn’t mean we artists have to reveal everything. But artists, let’s not show how smart we are, let’s be generous.