by Yule Heibel on May 22, 2003

I’m not sure that I can really sort this matter out, but here are two quotes that seem to represent two possibly irreconcilable views on art. I’ll post them here for the reader to ponder. Maybe I’ll be inspired enough to discuss them myself, later.

First, Artropolis, an exhibition of contemporary art that opened in Vancouver on May 16, featuring three curated segments, “Art in Exile,” “Here,” and “Residue.” The curators explain their choices. One artist “translates this sticky miasma of intimacy into cool text based reflections on human interactivity.” Another artist-curator tells us that his “goal in curating this exhibition was to represent and recover the primary image of the artist as one who makes intellectual connections visible, as one who exercises choice, and has the ability and power to illustrate the essential course of humanity: moving toward creative practice.” I like that last bit, although it sounds awfully high-flown and at any rate I’m uneasy with where that creative practice is headed. I’m uneasy because it seems that the curators agree that art’s power lies in creating distance: leaving the “miasma of intimacy” in favour of translating “human interactivity” into “text based reflections” — not confrontations. Perhaps that hangs better over the sofa. It’s about as toned-down as the Dutch cow pictures that good Canadians used to buy at the start of the 20th century when landscapes of Canada were still considered too barbaric because it was bad enough to have to live here: why put pictures of the place on the walls?

Second, Judy Feldman, who has been working tirelessly to save the Mall in Washington, DC from overdevelopment, in a press release yesterday. She is speaking out against a proposed Vietnam War Memorial visitors’ center:

“We don’t have to explain anything to the people who weep as they walk down the paths lining the Wall, trace rubbings of the names, and leave Teddy Bears and other mementos to lost loved ones.”

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