Saturday, June 6, 2015


The legal team responsible for managing the liability issues and wording of a recent 'Public Art Call' put their heads together to pen these immortal lines:

"The public must be able to look over, under, or through the artwork to see if danger exists."

Now, as it is no great conceptual leap to replace the word 'Danger' with the word 'Beauty', it seems these fine legal minds have inadvertently stumbled upon a pretty passable definition of the function of art in society.

But beauty is a moving target, and the artist/hunter/gatherers who live by tracking her movements across difficult terrain are an odd, intransigent tribe; They bicker constantly about her whereabouts, her appearance, her behaviors, and procreational predilections; it's a wonder they manage to feed us at all...

As for 'Semblances' - the dictionary defines a semblance as "the outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is very different."

This too I find a pretty good expression of the way art functions…

Try this:

Ask an artist to draw a map for you, to some particular existential coordinates. Upon its completion the first thing he or she will tell you is “OK - It's not actually ON this map, but here's what you should look for..."

Looking "over, under or through the artwork" to see if beauty exists is the co-creative burden of an audience.  'Look to the 'artist's statement' and all you're likely to find is some variation of "take my word for it..."

I've had occasion to wish it were otherwise, but it seems that the work of my hands is my mother-tongue.  Much is lost in translation.