Thursday, March 25, 2010

Maria Gomez-Calvo: From Wendy Steiner’s Venus In Exile

“… I think, we must stop treating beauty as a thing or quality, and instead as a kind of communication. We often speak as if beauty were a property of objects
Steiner states that “We must stop treating beauty as a thing or quality”; but aren’t we treating all things that surround us the same way? Aren’t we are putting a tag on everything our eyes see (and even on the things we don’t see) to make sure they are either “good or bad”?

That is who we are at this moment in time, which it could also mean that it is what we do. The task might become enormous, impossible to accomplish if what she suggests is that the world should drastically take a complete turnaround. Changing the concept of beauty might not be possible if we focus on it as an isolated issue.
We were/are trained to do so? We debate/judge every word that comes out of everybody and anybody’s mouth; we question it first, then we glorify it or destroy it. These are the times where all is allowed and forbidden, applauded and silenced, permitted and punished, no rules, no regulations, norms or restrictions exist when it comes to speaking our minds.
Why Art and Beauty could should be different, classified in a separate “movement”? The canvas is there waiting for us to splatter in the paint. The canvas is the world. And the paint? - What could be considered the paint? The paint (biggest amazement of all) can be anything and everything. There are no limits. We “speak” our minds in a way that what we say could be “translated” and have many meanings, even opposite ones “if required”; it all depends on the listener but more important on how much of an impact we would like to implement. The main goal is to win, but in reality winning or losing does not matter either, we have an answer ready for each case that we might be facing. In sum, we never lose.
In the old days there were rules; people were told who, where and how, and they obeyed; there is no doubt that it happened because those (rules, regulations and such) could be considered more like impositions rather than choices but it does not change the output. In the old days more people believed and never questioned. Could that be the difference?
Then we stopped believing and started questioning. There were no answers. We rebelled!
She calls it “The alternative aesthetic …a particular interaction between two beings, a SELF and an OTHER…” Doesn’t that short statement go a long way? Doesn’t it imply that only two beings have to agree? Isn’t it clear that considering how many people populate the world there is no “alternative aesthetic”, everything and I mean “all” could be an alternative aesthetic; we could all be great artists and every other person can very well create a master piece of art? There is no ideal aesthetic that could tie us down under specific criteria; nobody is setting the guides to help us appreciate what seems otherwise impossible for some people, in some cases many (people) to comprehend. It is much easier to not-even-try and follows what comes to mind. What we believe comes to mind. How many similar minds are there in this world?
That is where the big, should we call it chaos? – begins. What comes to mind couldn’t very well be tied up to many different and fluctuating variables such as moods, frustrations, fears, external influences, monetary status… and such?
The way I see it (and I am sure it will be denied by most), it seems like we don’t even care/take time to think again, check inside instead of limiting ourselves to the outside world. It even appears as if we fear to find out how and where to find even happiness. Wouldn’t that apply to the way we look at art? We can’t feel it any longer so we set the rules to judge with. The rules are: there are no rules.
I am not sure that some things can be demonstrated with facts, based on how I see the world. But what are facts anyway?
Take Pollock for instance. All he did was let the paint drip from his brush, creating these new effects on his canvas. As they say, he did not do it on purpose, it happened by accident (I can only reflect here what history tells us) and “it happened” because he was tired, overworked, penniless and mostly frustrated. But “the world loved it”, it was like magic, something new to admire. It had novelty; it had movement, colors, and even some casual light and shadow… A new artist had been born! Some said, “He is better than Picasso or Matisse”; others turn their heads and totally dislike “his drips” because they did not have time to find out if there was some possible beauty on the “drips”, all they knew was that he did not match any of the existing rules. But he rose to glory; we raised him to glory and gave him a place in history just because he broke the mold and gave the world something new to talk about, something different that is.
Is that perhaps what “the Alternative Aesthetic” could mean?
I fail to see the idea of beauty being a “type of communication” per se based on Steiner’s “…a SELF and an OTHER…” That could engage only two people communicating to each other, doesn’t it?
When I look at a piece of art, and many things can be considered pieces of art, I try not to get influenced by anything or anybody other than my feelings toward it. How does it make me feel? Then if the feeling is not a good one or the piece resists being “of my liking” I still try to look for movement, balance, color, light, music and/or poetry, something that could extract a hidden beauty, what the artist tries to convey. That could never happen but “it could still be a master piece but somehow it does not feed my spirit”.
So where do we draw the line? Who has the authority to determine or tag it as a master piece or not? Who defines what art is? We do. We all have proclaimed ourselves knowledgeable and capable and that is not up for debate: “This is what I think, this is what goes”.
I want to believe that in order to appreciate art we don’t just have to consider “how much”… And refuse to accept that we have to like it based on the $/tag attached to it.

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