Cultural Art

re this topic; [whose art is it anyway?] See also: [Ritual] [Art Periods] [Flying Gallop] (prance image) [Meso American Art] [South American Art] [Pacific Islands Art] [Art Periods] [Art Movements] [(art) concepts] [Time Line]

Cultural Art

We take as read "personal art", "personal art style", etc. What is in a culture that leads to trends, styles, and the common practices associated with it? When we look at something like "Chinese" vs "Korean" art, we are struck by the use of line, texture, and of course the subject, content, techniques of the associated *culture* from which the work comes. When is art not art? This is pretty much the first half of the equation that Mary Anne Staniszewski asks in her book "Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art.". That is, as she points out the Mona Lisa (among other works) is NOT art, but Marcel Duchamp's "Mona Lisa with a Moustache", IS. That is, we must understand what we mean by art in the first place. We (in general) would not say that the family picture taken at the local WalMart is NOT art, but a portrait of Napolean (eg, "Napolean Crossing the Alps", by Jacques Louis David) is that? Compare our answers by what the "common man in the streets" might say in response to being shown one of Frank Stella's "protractor" paintings. And this doesn't even begin to address the work (art, craft, icon) in its place within the society. As Cynthia Freeland puts it in "But is it art?" For example, my direct experience of African nkissi nkondi fetish statues from Loango, [shaped like animals or a person, about 30 max in any dimension] in the Kongo region, which are bristling with nails, is that they look quite fierce like the horror-movie Pinhead from the "Hellraiser" series. The initial perception is modified when I learn 'external facts' [ie, facts outside of the art object itself - but, internal to the culture within which the work was produced]: That nails were driven in over time by people to register agreements or seal dispute resolutions. The participants were asking for support for their agreement (with an expectation of punishment if it is violated). Such fetish objects were considered so powerful they were sometimes kept outside of the village. ... [The original] users would find it very odd for a small group of them to be exhibited together in the African Art section of a museum. [Freeland, Pp. 64-66] That we as outsiders have no more idea as to what the *meaning* of a work of art is a chasm of ignorance that can not be overcome without direct knowledge of the social, environmental and cultural markers of the society within which it was produced is clear; or as the philosopher Douglas Adams often put it "[we] no more understand this than a tea leaf knows the history of the East India Company". None-the-less, we must proceed. And the key to bridging the gap is through the formal study of the anthropological approach, rather than our intuitive approach as artists. If we put on the hat of the anthropologist and try to figure out what the "art" *means* in that culture. Then, we find that we can't. We can no more put on the hat of a culture, than can an anthropologist can understand a culture by sitting in a chair at a college a world away from the living culture into which those symbols are embeded, into a culture in which the ideas, way of life, the very way of being/seeing/knowing/understanding are as alien as for a dolphin to understand a baseball game. (Not that anyone (as far as i know)a has taken it upon themselves to explain baseball to dolphins.) But. We (as artists, as practicioners of *craft*, of *technique*, of *history*) can see how a work is done. We can explain how we do our art. But, as with the case of ??name?? "We respect each other, even though we do not for a moment understand for a moment, the others 'art'. ,,, not an exact quote. And of the "whyness" of the art? For the Navajo shaman using sand drawing/painting to re,,,balance the forces of the universe, the whyness is more probably clear than most of the work that we do as artists. At times of course, we are driven (as with "Guernika") where the reason/purpose, and hence the whyness are more clear than most of the time. So, because we (mostly) lack the focus and directness that (apparently) with which the shaman draws what they are guided to do. But, in one sense, i would say that the same "howness" by which the shaman, the artist, or for that matter any "other seer" of things comes to grips to with that which we feel we must do ,,, are driven to do. But, still the whyness does elude us so; doesn't it? On this page: {Religion}

The Usual Suspects


Chronology ,h, so, whose language is it anyway/ the idea is that we are not becoming a global community, we became one at the end of the last ice age. at that poing. the distinction between me/you/they became zero. unfortuantely evolution left us a message, but we don't read things the way that she writes. in fact, one could say that the trials and tribulations of our last 50,000 years is pretty much all due to misreading the cues 9not just the clues0. i've been working thru the concepts of 'cultural art' and 'cultural literacy' and what ever 8that8 is supposed to mean. part of this 9as a personal journey0, began when i decided to take russian rather than french 9as a chemistry major, it was 8assumed8 that we knew german ,,, german is/was the language of science 9mainly from the previous century; ie, the 1800c0. one thing led to another and one of my roomates 9natioalist chinese , read that as taiwan0 had just been dealt a severe cultural/psychic shock when carter decided to recognise mainland china 9read that as communist0 rather than iland china as the china for the seat of the security committee 9executive council seat0 in the un 9united nations0. this problem of my ontiologoical reltaionship with rewspect to language/communication 9in general0/etc... anyway, i decided to take korean for the simple reason that we had happened to have a visiting professor 9sun doo kim , or more properly kim sun doo0 in a drawing workshop. he had brought with him some special inks which he mixed in a stanless steel bucket. the next day, the janitorial staff had very carefully empied and spotlessly cleaned the bucket. thus the cultural problem arose. i covered it for the paper 9the brookhaven courier0, and then the idea that there 8was8 a difference between chinese and korean art , somehow this had never occured to me. odd, these things. akkh, monk is back on. evolution taught us all too well , don't trust the stranger. use the signs/gestures/etc to identify yourself and your ranking 9perceived/accepted/asserted0 in the group, etc. and all we have is 'just' this 3,pound universe to go with. and what do we do/ we sit at home watching in,ane tv shows 9ah1 the lure of the game show and all that cash1110. or as ford prefect pointed out , it's all a cock up; wrong question 9entirely, i would say0. so, that's it for now. sweltering heat, and to save electricity 9always a good idea, of course pointless as we've all been proved to of that the green house effect is simply a liberal ploy , to what end, 8i8 have 8no8 Earthly idea; odd, now i wonder how he did that/ 42 start again oddly enough, in english 9and most other 'civilised langauges'0 there's no end to upper/lower case, or special characters. i mean, would 8you8 ever write it's when you mean its/// or what about the statement; 'in the english language, there are three tooze.'? start again as 'ask a messican' said , yeah, it's pretty much a 'thing' to be able to pronounce french correctly, but no one seems to pay much attention to pronouncing burrito with a rolled 'r', or to properly pronounce 'taco'. ,, not an exact quote.