There is widespread agreement that art is very important. But why? That’s a somewhat troublesome question. Let’s boil it down to three core types of ideology. I like to build classification systems that brutally simplifies the strangeness and multitude of views on art. It’s gonna be a little simplistic, so eat a grain of salt:-) So what is art really meant to do? That’s the question. I will also show three new steampunked sculptures. So let’s begin:
The Therapeutic Doctrine:
Tagline: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” – Pablo Picasso
You believe that art is a tool, like a hammer and sickle. Art can solve problems! But what kind of problems? This doctrine thinks that art helps us to cope with a variety of cognitive frailties most humans suffer from: it should help us to understand ourselves, empathise with others, guide us to morality, console us for our sorrows and function as an agent of hope. Awesome! It’s a mental drug that gives us an understanding of the human condition. Cool! Remember you are not doing art an injustice by ascribing a clear function to it. In a way, it helps the struggling artists and saves them from irrelevance and the melancholy of uncertainty. It ends the idea that artists exist merely as a distraction or and mysterious sideshow to the main business of love and work.
Through most of human history, art has been in the service of our many religious inventions. It helps to communicate your viewpoint if you have a good narrative, sound and pictures to show the viewing public. The alliance between art and religion helped with the problems of theology, it should now assist us with the challenges of psychology. It´s an alternate self-help book with a different kind of language. Art means language combined with an understanding of your feelings! How will the therapeutic doctrine think about this first newly made monster:
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This horrid creature is called Holy Earth and it’s a small sculpture that preys on your inconsistent morality. The recipe for this monster is: Steel wires, a small funny looking stone found on Lolland – DK, network cables, 10cm*10cm recycled piece of wood, ½ jigsaw blade, two crosses from a souvenir shop in Jerusalem, real holy earth from Jerusalem, acrylic paint tubes, a small part of a canon objective EF 25-85, modelling paste and a small part of my former ID card for DR – Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
I tried to combine religious symbols (the holy earth and the two crosses) with constructs of pop-cultural symbols (network cables, peace symbol and a deformed Rolling Stones logo – the great licking tongue). From the view of the therapeutic doctrine, we are cultural Frankenstein’s, engineered and sometimes reanimated by several different cultural parts. This process is called life! It leaves us a bit confused and lost in a state of absurdity. BUT there is hope! This sculpture recommends to put down the sword, shit a bit on the media corporations and put on a bronze cape. And try to lick the world a bit! Try to imagine how you would look as a sculpture made in this way? What iconic symbols sway your life? Are your feet made by internet cables, miniature shovels or dead babies (metaphorically speaking)?
This doctrine covers the subjective and intersubjective value of artistic work. In short we are all subjects cursed with a degree of solipsistic experience, but sometimes we agree, and in that agreement we find intersubjectivity. ERGO the arts teaches us how to live our lives. It´s kinda close to K. E. Løgstrups (1905-81) view on art. Which in a one-liner goes like this: The arts can supplement and expand our daily horizon, beyond the chores of daily life.
The Elitist Doctrine:
Tagline: “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” – Leonard Cohen.
It’s all about the arts and its inherent symbolic power! It’s a Hornslethian fuck you to the art haters – because arts here ‘for art’s sake’ and its well-funded by rich individuals, art marketers and powerful historic institutions. Global art sales are booming with 360 billion (kr) worldwide, so it’s going rather well. This doctrine follows a class code that talks to two kinds of capital – the ´Bourdieuian` financial and cultural capital. If you know the code, you can enter into the art-Lovers paradise and have a feast. And remember your value is defined by your brand. If you can’t play the game, run along, shut up and work! Let’s put on the glasses of The Elitist and look at this second newly created monster:
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The tall thin legged Digital Defender is made by: Steel wires, acrylic paint tubes, parts of a Canon objective EF 25-85, a jigsaw blade, an Apple iPod, parts of an old Panasonic camera, parts of a Samsung phone, modelling paste, network cable wires and a bronze samovar top. Let’s put up a dialogue between The Elitist and The Cultural Elitist. There are in a gallery and it’s a parody:
The Elitist: Look it has the thin legs like an Alberto Giacometti sculpture. How joyful!
The Museum Inspector: Yes, it is a wonderful creative sculpture with great this to the movement of poststructuralist anarchism.
The Elitist: Uhh poststructuralist anarchism that sound expensive! Oh look an Apple Ipod, I have shares in that amazing company. Networth, about seven million dollars!
The Elitist is truly excited now.
The Elitist: Is it a well-known artist?
The Museum Inspector: No, he´s an upcoming artist from Copenhagen. He´s unknown to the art world.
The Elitist: Oh really, then it’s a bit of a gamble to buy. Do you think the price will rise in the coming years, Mr. Inspector?
The Museum Inspector: I can’t promise anything, but the sculpture “Digital Defender” carries an inspiring narrative about digital freedom, mass-surveillance and building on the soil of our cultural history.
The Elitist: Yes yes post-something anar…kicking… right. I’m a betting banker, not a philosopher. Well fuck it! I like it. Its brave and true, like me. I can always put it in my storage compartment and wait 5 years. Its really cheap now. Its a high risk bet, I like IT!
From a democratic viewpoint it’s a highly defeatist and pernicious way of looking at art. But it is how the world works! Sad but true… This doctrine covers a quick look at the market’s view on artistic work and the employed cultural elites choices in what artworks they promote. Art in itself, is in a philosophically way like Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) would define it: Only as an autonomous agent – outside the repressive stroke of the principles of reality – can art truly contradict the existing systems of society. ERGO Art follows the invisible self-regulating hand of Adam Smith!
The Collective Doctrine:
Tagline: “Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” – Winston Churchill.
The Collective Doctrine thinks that, the arts is a reflection on the specific society that created the artworks. Within the human genome there is a urge to make art, to create something out of nothing, build a bridge or a elevator into space. This passion starts with the desire to preserve. In short – art banks our collective winnings. Your tradition is really a mechanism to keep precious things and our best insights, in good condition and make them publicly accessible. We have to share our artistic diamonds and the experience that follows. But if it’s not memorable and renewable for you – as a viewing subject! Just move along to the next corpse, and see, if you can find the decadence or a gentle greatness in the work. This doctrine processes the value of artistic work within a specific society – as a portrait of it. It studies how these portraits are connected through time as concept, material and ideer. Lets pick up the glasses of The Collective and look at this third newly created monster.
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What does this sculpture say about our society? The Collective Doctrine needs society to respond to the artwork, so most of what I write is highly speculative because it’s a contemporary piece. Please take it as an art historical thought experiment or a method for analysis within The Collective Doctrine. It’s very much like an academic investigation. You start by contemplating these questions, and slowly you will discover the genealogy of the artwork. I will give some short answers to a list of questions regarding the artwork. There are almost endless possibilities of questions.
Danger! We are slowly entering the door, that leads to the realm of the art historians. And it´s a scary DOOR!!!
Concerning the society that created the artwork:
Who was in power when this was created?
“The Danish Social Democratic Party”
How did they come into power?
“They came into power through democratic elections in 2011-15.”
What historical and biosocial conditions affects the creator/artist?
“The work was created in the bosom of a rich Scandinavian welfare state. At the end of an economic crisis (Hopefully). Currently, the artist is was not employed.”
Who created it and what is known about them?
“I created it! I´m unknown, but that can change. And all modern artists leaves clear digital and analog traces.”
Why was this work of art commissioned and/or created?
“The creative drive commissioned it. It´s like the wall telling you what to do. It´s strange metaphysics, art-speak or an aesthetic sensibility.”
Concerning the specific artwork:
How was it made? (Material & technical rundown)
“This strange creature is made by: Steel wires, real petrified fossils, mussels, network cables, modelling paste, parts of a Samsung phone, small screws, cutting blade from a meatgrinder and rocks with holes in them. Its crudely made by glueing a lot, adding modelling paste and paint.”
Where was this meant to be seen originally?
What is the artists, kurators and museums inspectors intentions? (known/unknown)
“My intentions are… telling a story through a sculpture and see if people get it. The binary pairs of old vs. new and humanism vs. transhumanism. I try to build a narrative, so each piece of junk relates to each other.”
How does the artwork place itself, in an art historical context?
“We stand on the shoulders of giants. It’s too contemporary to put it an art historical context. BUT it tries to follow a the postmodern trend with strong ties to surrealism and junk art.”
Is there a trend in this field of art, that apply to this artwork?
“The sustainability trend and the building of environmental consciousness. We have to prevent total climate crisis.”
Concerning the aesthetics?
Which concept of beauty apply to the artwork?
“It falls within a very modern conception of beauty:-)”
In the parameters of The Collective Doctrine art is, what art-institutions call art. It´s an institutional concept of art. where institutions have the power to baptize art and through that event make it legitimate and respected by other art institutions. And so it goes… on and on…
Thanks for reading:-)