Friday, August 21, 2009

Why so unruly? Why can't art be quiet and well-behaved?

Yes, what is it about artistry? Why so eccentric and uncivilized? Why is art such an unruly beast?

Or we could turn this question around and ask why anyone assumes that art should be neat and well-behaved.

Art can be civilized and polite — at the end of its life cycle, after it's already dead, carved up, and put on someone's plate. All the risk is gone by this point — why wouldn't it seem tame? For many people, this is the only face of art they ever get to see.

For those who have gotten a look at art earlier in its life cycle, it's a different story. If you, as an artist, want to create something new, it's a messy and dangerous business. You must get outside the proverbial city, hike into the deep forest, trudge through the swamps, climb up the mountains, delve into the depths of the oceans. You must find those untamed places that are free of the dominance of human plans, rules, and intentions.

The unruly beast is the totem of living art. As an artist, you must make friends with the beast, you must gain its trust and cooperation, but you can never control it.

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