I work at a college that specializes in media, fine, and performing arts. I love this place. I love that our students walk around here in all manner of dress, with every hair color in the rainbow. Every race, sexual identity and religious belief is represented, and with that diversity comes every style of art you can imagine.
Right now I’m sitting at my desk looking at a postcard for an upcoming exhibition. The image on the front of the postcard, the winner of the previous year’s exhibition, is a black and white photograph of six dead octopi draped over three sticks tied together like a ladder with string. When I pulled this out of my mailbox yesterday my first reaction was to laugh. Then I thought, “Jeez, I could do that!” After a while that image just grossed me out, and I started to contemplate, what is art?
To me, this is art.
I have a friend, Paula, who is a very talented filmmaker. She does some beautiful narrative and experimental work. When we first met, I complained to her that I didn’t get experimental film. It seemed to me a hodge-podge of images that said nothing. Whenever I had to view an experimental film I rolled my eyes. Until I saw a film Paula had made titled, Fever. It is about the bond between a mother and child, and the interruption of that bond due to illness. It is a beautiful series of images, sounds, and text – I loved it. I understood exactly what she was trying to convey. That really changed my attitude when faced with watching an experimental film. It made me think, and it left an emotional impact. Isn’t that what art is supposed to do? Does it mean that I embrace all experimental film? Absolutely not. When given the choice between art house experimental or Hollywood blockbuster, I’m going to go with Hollywood. It’s just how I roll.
So back to the six dead octopi…. Is it art? Well, it made me think, and it left an emotional impact. So yes, it’s art. It’s just not the art I want hanging on my walls. Sorry, but it’s just how I roll.