Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Poltics as Art

Several things I have read lately (plus one movie), all fantastic, converge around a central idea: the thrust of 20th century art was to blur the distinction between art and everything else. The details of each are a bit beside the point, but here's the list:

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop, a film by Banksy, a graffiti artist most famous for a series of images he painted on the wall between Israel and Gaza, but also renowned for inserting his own work onto the wall of the Tate Modern.
  • Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, a book about the California artist Robert Irwin, who began at some point creating installations that were as much about ordinary life as anything else. Lately he's been doing landscape design as well.
  • Alex Ross's article about John Cage in this week's New Yorker. The piece speaks in particular about a Cage composition that is 4 minutes of silence.
  • Andrei Condrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide. Rules on how to be Dada, except that to be Dada is to reject rules.
More stuff, too. The list, as I say isn't what's important. It's just the stain of thought that separating out some stuff and calling it "art" is a mistake -- that really the idea of art should implicate everything we do.

This idea leads me to a question for which I have no answer. How is politics art? What way might there be of handling ourselves, making decisions, and the like would result in a process that was aesthetically pleasing. Failing that, isn't there a way of doing things that is not nauseating? Every time I hit upon what passes for "debate," I'm only a degree or two of separation from somebody saying something at best stupid and at worst noxious. Surely there is another way, and given that other models have failed, why not art?


Keifus said...

"Politics is the art of the possible," or so the saying goes. I'm not sure I agree with that on every available level. My thinking goes more that it's some felicity toward creating logic-like impressions and narratives independent of even subjective facts and, probably, motives. We all know about bullshit artists. Politics is bullshit art.

Aaron said...

Hmm... I suspect the problem with politics as art is that there's enough pretension in politics already. The last thing it needs is some yahoo raving that we're all Philistines who can't understand his vision when all we want is the potholes repaired.