Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On the Apartheid between "art" and "craft". By Jerry Saltz

Jerry Saltz just posted this today.  I consistently hear from our young students/artists this notion that the medium they work in is better than another medium, usually not outright but in a subtle, 'higher than thou' kind of way.  As Mr. Saltz puts it, it is 'what you make- no matter how you make it.  It just has to work.'
Here is his entire posting from Facebook:

 - The differences between what is called “art” and what is called “craft” are 100% totally bogus. They are maintained to keep things simple, stupid, and limited.
There is no distinction between the two. None.
I only care about what you make - no matter how you make. It just has to work.

Painting is no better or worse than ceramics is no better or worse than photography is no better or worse than woodworking … all the way down.
It’s all part of the same Ball of Wax.

However, in this regard, the art world may be the most limiting sphere on earth.
Artists are terrified of the word craft; so-called “craft-people” crave the title “artist.” It is all absurd. Who’s asking who’s permission for what here, my Huckleberry friends?

This just closes things down, keeps them neat, simple, and known.

It is absolutely pathetic. And, at its deepest roots, sexist.
It’s the way men didn’t want women reading novels in the 19th century. As if women would get nasty thoughts about sex, life, romance, or other things. Of course this is precisely what novels did. The same as they did for men.

Either way, today craft is considered “girly.” Why people still believe this is a sick mystery. But it’s time for it to end. It was never really true in the first place.

But wait. This is the art world. We only like mainly Painting and Sculpture and Photography. I'm sorry. For a second I thought we were all free to do what our demons demand us to do.

I never care if an artist has someone else make his/her work. You can have all the people you want help you make it; they can make it entirely without you ever touching it; or only you can touch it yourself. It is all absolutely unimportant to me. As I am sure it is to everyone. All we care about is can this object create an opening for us, can it take us to another dimension, go deep, create a new set of ordinances and coordinates?  I could give a crap if one or fifty people worked on something.

Yet, people still enforce these old idiotic clich├ęd barriers between mediums and processes. Yet, Duchamp was as much as "artisan" as an artist. Ditto Rubens, Morandi, Eva Hesse, George Ohr. A lathe is no less 'important' a tool as a paint brush. A potter’s wheel is no less ‘important’ or useful than a camera. If you have a vision I don’t care what path you take to the vision. Be it painting, embroidery, sewing, sculpture, weaving, knitting, quilting, glassblowing, ivory carving, cut-out silhouettes, ceramics, photography, scrapbooking, metalwork, or adding glitter and/or sequins to a pair of pumps.
Then again, I’m the same person who believes that his Second Self can create openings and schisms in a medium as odd as ‘Facebook.’ The same person who thought going on a reality TV game show about art might also create avenues to otherness to some who might otherwise just think art is a bunch of junk.

Either way, it’s time to set aside this insipid separation between art and craft.

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