Saturday, January 06, 2007

michael snow


is terrible. that was pretty much the theme of yesterday...although hanging out with my BFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF dr. rei is a treat upon treats. "matthew mcconaughey's sister" lol!!!!

there's been a lot of talk recently around these parts about funding of the arts, and the grant system in particular. i kinda have a problem with it, and think the system needs SERIOUS reform (to the extent that i'm going to apply to be a juror for the FACTOR grants, which had the good sense to recently award COLIN JAMES $20 000 of YOUR MONEY). that's right, colin james.

to wit:

1) "only western culture views the arts as a source of meaning through which life is recreated in all its dimensions. The idea that every self-conscious individual aspires to the condition of art is not endorsed by non-western cultures" (not my words)
2) following pierre bourdieu, art and the system of reifying art within a gallery system serves the cultivated, privileged classes, through the legitimization and division between "good" taste (high art, classical music, now jazz) and vulgar taste (popular culture, the great unwashed).
3) through my conversations with people applying for grants, the justification for the fact that they deserve public money to produce their work, is usually couched in language that relies heavily on point #1, that is: the integral role of the "artist" in society, to further advance culture, etc.
4) yet, the reason that they require funding, is based on the notion that the great unwashed, the teeming hordes of the tasteless "masses" mindlessly lapping at the exposed coochie(s) of lindsay lohan and britney spears would not otherwise fund or deem their project worthy of funding. BUT! the justification is always predicated on the entirely ego-centric and ego-furthering notion that what they are producing furthers culture as a whole.
5) therefore, it appears to me to be a uniquely solipsistic exercise that's being obfuscated by a rhetoric of "serving the public" "serving society" "serving the discourse of art" in the wholly unique way that only artists can.

here's the thing:

- you can come up with a justification for anything to serve the greater good of society and culture if the price is right.
- why not the responsibility to make your art relevant to people at large? what does the system of grants and grant-giving do but create a closed circuit with its own internal logic and definitions that only serve the purpose of perpetuating the system? have we not then created a culture that privileges a very specific sort of "artist" that is granted funding (ie. michael snow?).
- if you really love art and your craft in particular, wouldn't you want to make it as widely accessible as possible, instead of denigrating people who "just don't get it"? again, a closed system that speaks only to the converted.
- why shouldn't you have to answer to the public at large? if you only make art that about 10 people are into, under the convenient over-arching precept that they're the only ones with the cultural capital to "get it", then what's to stop you from being a self-indulgent, undisciplined hack? (paging michael snow again!). doesn't the viewing public serve as a check and balance to precisely temper that sense of reckless entitlement?
- doesn't true innovation come when you have to struggle tooth and nail against the best of the best of the world to have yourself heard, as opposed to being supported by a crutch that artificially props up the worth and dissemination of your product?
- if you were truly dedicated to furthering a culture of the arts in canada, why don't you give up that grant money and lobby for funding for the arts in education? for building educational facilities, for art classes from kindergarten through to high school? that is what is going to create a viable culture of the arts, not you getting your grant to pursue whatever whim you choose.

caveats:

1) this is a criticism of all grant-giving, it just happens to be so that the arts is the current hot topic in my face lately. university research is much the same, with a lot of spurious, self-indulgent vanity projects being given funding.
2) i'm not necessarily saying that we should do away with all grants, only that the current system of the canadian culture machine needs a lot of work (don't even get me started on cancon), and mis-manages and mis-directs funding to produce and further a standard of mediocrity. big-time reform!
3) i especially take offense to the self-congratulatory rhetoric that invokes the subject-category "artist" in a self-serving, reifying, elitist way.
4) i'm bigger on "craftspeople" as opposed to people who identify themselves as "artists".

tonight for dinner we're going to this place called "relish bar and grill" which bills itself as a wine and tapas bar. it's been getting good reviews, so i'm excited to try it out. a cursory look at the menu shows that's it's more of a small plates concept, as opposed to classic tapas.

fin.

6 comments:

dr.rei said...

yesterday was so awesome! i felt so spoiled because i was having so much fun and eating like a king while laughing my butt off! the eyeliner was made for you!!!
love ya <3

Hannah said...

O.k. I'm no fan of Michael Snow. I sat through "Wavelength" with my ears plugged to somehow further my education BUT the only reason I frown upon grant-giving is because I'm jealous of the "artists" who are rewarded cash for their silly ideas that I could just as easily come up with. We just need someone to let us in on the big secret of grant application writing. I'm sure that we could come up with an art project worthy of funding...

dr.rei said...

michael snow is the boringest guy in the universe! his ideas are no better than those of an untalented grade 10 art student. aaah he makes me so mad! *shakes with rage à la milhouse when he finds out the kid from shelbyville is biting his steez*

karl lagerfeld, esquire said...

here's the thing about michael snow...he works in about EVERY MEDIUM KNOWN TO PEOPLE. he does film, music, paint, sculpture, and fiberglass geese. how could anyone possibly be good at so many different things? guess what? he's NOT!

dr.rei said...

lol! i can't believe how many hours we can spend talking about michael snow.....in a way, the joke's on us!! THAT BASTARD!

Hannah said...

You have to give him credit for being one of the first (Canadian artists) to branch out, though...