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I believe it's a fundimental human need. It is the capacity to express our inner creativity through whatever medium best suits us personally as individuals, and is acceptable by our culture. It is something which, being a fundimental need, if not met, causes a deficit, a form of poverty. In other words, people who have thier need to be creative totally supressed will go a bit nuts, and not be happy people.

And the very fact that it IS creativity means it's creative in and of itslef - there are no end to the ways that people find to express some from of art in thier lives. For example, the elderly working class steeped-in-hard-masculinity men from around Ballymun who would spend all day tending thier flower beds, and weep like babies if the local thugs came in and vadilised them. Becasue those perfect arraingments of daffodils and tulips organised just so, that was thier art - even if they'd probably hit you for saying so, becasue the accusation that they would do anything artistic would be tantimout to calling them wossy-middle-class-girly men.

I express art myslef through many ways, none of them being traditional fine art - due to the fact that I can't draw a straight line with a ruler. But I garden when I can, and I knit. I hate day to day cooking, but can go on mad spurts of creativity in the kitchen, and being a strongly visual person, really then emphasise the presentation of whatever dishes I have created. I take photographs on occasion, and will put hours into creating the right photo if an idea occurs to me and I can execute it at all with my pathetic point-and-click. And I write fiction when time and the muses allow.
I'm not skilled or tallented in any particular way, and none of what I've just listed ever amounts to 'works of art' in a way that would be meaningful to anyone else. Its probably just dinner. Or maybe a photo stored on a hard drive that no one else ever sees, but thats not the point. The point is that I am finding ways to make the statment to the world 'This is me, this is what matters to me, this is what I'm thinking about' and then let those ideas out. That in turn lets new ideas in, and I can grow as a person.

Where did all this come from, wasn't there a point preceeding this ramble? Oh, yes, there was and this is it. I was buying the annual callendars to use as stocking fillers today, and was struck that the only ones that I would consider 'art' were either historical - ie painted by now dead guys, or they were 'goffic', as in Victoria Francis, Alcamy Gothic and a few others I wasn't as familier with in the same vein, or paintings of fairies and dragons and such. They were all classed together, and took up one stand (that is, the traditional dead guy artist and the gothic paintings all together).
One other stand was also hand-drawn work, and they were all cartoon humor. Dilbert and the ilk. Nothing really good. 2 stands were taken up with kiddie cartoons, disney and so forth. Winnie the Pooh made up over three quarters of that. And not one Mickey Mouse to be seen this year, which is actually quite bizzare.
And there were 20 stands in total, so the other 16 were taken up with photography. Cute animals almost half, footballers at least a third, and geography the rest. (I'm lumping things like 16 shots of John Deere tractors in with geography here, even though they weren't exactly landscape shots)

So, I went home and asked the kid 'why is the only art being currently produced Gothic?' and we went on from there to have a very interesting conversations about it all. The simplest answer, his firt one, is that to be comercially viable as 'an artist' nowadays you need to actually go into film production, game design, web site design etc, and that all of these areas ARE valid art forms, but by the time they get to the pre-christmas calendar stalls they may seem to be nothing more than 12 photos of a particular actor promoting the programme or film.
We went on to talk about whether or not 12 photos of David Beckham, all against similar backgrounds, all with him wearing almost identical clothes in each shot, could ever be considered 'art'. And the snob in me (and the kid as well) says not. But I suppose if it actually expresses something about either the photographer or the viewer, then its time to leave the snobbishness aside, and admit that 'your art is OK, its just not my art', to totally mis-quote and abuse a kinky phrase.

This still leaves lots of (very interlinked) questions:

When did the idea of something needing being visually appealing so completly die, and why is humor often so astetically ugly?
Have we totally and utterly sold our culture to the big corporations?
Why does identity overrule the aestetic (as in buying something ugly with the right brand name/logo/football club etc thats totally ugly, rather than something beautiful with the wrong 'identity')
Why is the only orriginal fine art gothic?

Each individual question is a head-wrecker. I think together they answer eachother. Because its all about idenity, and the way capitalism has taken idenity from individuals and sold back to the masses what was once theirs, at exorbidant prices.

But that STILL doesn't explain teddy-bears.
I think a lot about teddy-bears.
They are quite the unique art form.
And I want one for christmas.


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April 2011

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