Be forewarned, I may use some foul language in this rant of mine.
There always seems to be a lot of debate on topics like whether a particular medium is art or not, about what it is to be an artist, etc. To me, though, a bigger issue is whether the concept of art itself has become so distorted, perverted, and so-forth and whether it has, in some way, become dangerous.
I am not talking about "art" used in the casual sense. I am talking of the self-important "art" that so often dominates in galleries, schools, etc.
I'll be frank. I distrust most people who claim outright to be artists. As I see it, the status of a creation as art and the status of the creator as an artist is not for the creator to decide. Whether a painting or a photograph or whatever qualifies as art is only for the individual experiencing it to decide. If they consider it art, then it's art. If they don't, it's not. It goes no farther than the individual on the receiving end.
But obviously a lot of people (most of them?) don't share this point of view with me. And to be honest, a lot of this opinion is grounded in bitterness that comes directly from dealing with the art crowd in my life.
What makes art dangerous, as I see it, is the way it blinds people and leads them to do and say utterly stupid things. And for the most part, I think it's the use of the term "art" that is the problem. Art itself, as in physical art objects, couldn't be better - my life has been made much better because of it. But there are certain properties of that word that make me resent it in near-totality.
Too often I have met individuals that, were they to appear in a satirical cartoon, would be the black-beret-and-turtleneck fine art types. These are the condescending, pretentious, and quite often completely incompetent assholes who seem to think that if they claim to be artists they can get away with an absolute lack of proper technique, uncivil behavior, and an almost complete lack of creative vision. Some of these people are the art students who, lacking any true passion for the arts or any actual commitment to what they're doing print underexposed 35mm negatives big enough to use six tiled sheets of 20x30 paper under the assumption that it's art because they say it is.
Others who distort the term "art" and use it in ways that I feel are inappropriate at best are actual accomplished individuals with good technique, good vision, even passion, often individuals who we would say are artists based on their work, but who personally see it as their prerogative to use their self-assumed position as an "artist" to assume superiority over others, and subsequently also justifying all manner of bad behavior with the excuse that they're artists.
The collective ego of all the pretentious art types in the world likely occupies a space half the size of the entire solar system.
But this isn't necessarily the specific problem as I see it. Reprehensible behavior and superior attitudes are only symptoms. The problem is that people get seduced by the words "art," "artist," etc and in the end become so preoccupied with the notion of art and the romantic vision of being a fine artist that the work they produce is no longer truly done in the interest of art, but rather in the interest of the creating individual. When we stop creating because we want to, because we need to, and start creating because we like the idea of being an artist, there's something seriously wrong. The pursuit of art has taken on an air of selfishness and narcissism that I feel will ultimately prevent the furthering of art. So long as people are more concerned with being artists than what they're creating and following their visions, art will continue to stagnate.
I'm completely serious about this, too. It bothers me to the point that in my serigraphy class last spring I made a few t-shirts emblazened with the words "FUCK ART" in 4" capitals on the front. I wear them proudly to this day.
But I want to hear what others think about this. I obviously associate a lot of the problems in the art world with the pursuit of the idea of being an "artist" taking general precedence over the pursuit of creating things with meaning and significance that reflect ones passion and vision specifically *without* worrying about if others consider your work art, consider you an artist, etc. Do you agree? Disagree? Tangential rant come to mind? Thoughts please.