In today’s leg of my quest for a more articulate question, I pondered upon sections of Cardinal’s Outsider Art and Belton’s The Beribboned Bomb. Both left me disheartened and without a tidy conclusion, and thus, no gem awaits within this post, only a deeper dig down the rabbit hole.
“Towards an alternative art: Madness and art” (16-23 Cardinal)
Cardinal points out that equating madness with genius (as was previously fashionable, and probably still is) oversimplifies a much more confusing situation in art… and that this reduction reinforces “convention and prejudice” and helps the “guardians of culture to rule out anything divergent by labeling it mad.” Perhaps this is a time to edit, as I have a personal ends in considering pathology to be a clear necessity in the study of art history… as art does not make itself the creature making it must be understood as a part of the thing, deeply intertwined in its existence and significance.
(Congratulations to me for wrapping a thin membrane around art. That art does not make itself is a critical statement. One can then deduce that art is made. Art is something made. I have the seed of a definition. Good work.)
Firstly then, convention and prejudice are seen here as things to be done away with. This demands confrontation with the facts: the sane are more empowered than the insane. Is anyone really willing to dismantle the prejudices of the sane against the insane? And are these prejudices accepted as truths or safety precautions? Who can speak for the insane? Who can reason for this traditionally unreasonable group? The art objects are important as the actual person may be unable to communicate through other formal modes (coherent [according to the sane] conversation or salient writing). I would like to challenge the notion of the sane way of thinking as the proper way of thinking, which, of course, sounds crazy. However, speaking from first hand experience, insane thoughts can be clear both during and after psychosis. The challenge I remember facing was a sort of lack of patience amongst the sane because the ideas were quite complicated, detailed and new… I suppose that is one of the key differences between surrealism and realism–fantasy and non-fiction or so (time for the explanation of that which is contrary to whatever conventions have developed over long periods of time). I think that this will require some experimentation, that I will most likely have to preform using myself as the primary subject, (because it is an unethical experiment any way you slice it) which would ultimately suck for me, because the sane can be so cruel, and insanity can be so frightening.
Cardinal suggests later that the human psychological experience is a sort of continuum where madness is only an extreme and that all art is perhaps pathological as it requires a “dissociation of subjectivity from commonplace surroundings.” I’m not sure that its is true anymore, if it ever was, as art is more and more a part of commonplace surroundings–at least as the term art is claimed by creators of things of increasing media and seems to be expanding in scope and magnitude. Example? I recently chatted with a DJ who called himself an artist–I would argue that he is accurate in his claim under the following seed of a definition: an artist is a creator of culturally significant and often valuable material.
Does the inclusion of all sorts dilute the significance of the thing? Well–it sure as hell does something to to it… do the big names sink deeper as present producers press down upon them?
This same quotable bit states that anything strange, eerie or foreign to our sensibility is ruled out by the “guardians of culture.” Who exactly are they? This points to dominance of a certain group of people over others–does CULTURE need a guard? Does increased intercultural dialogue threatening to homogenize art… isn’t art sort of EXPANDING in reality–so then really, guardians of culture? Where do they live? Can I hang out too? (I’d like a little power, and think that I would use it for good and not evil… So, will I be, am I now, a culture bearer–in a place and time where I am gaining power but historically would not be granted any… as woman, brown, mentally ill, young, with less than obese pockets) I’m diverging here, but I think this is a question to return to for humorless inquiry.
Crazy or not, the thing was made–so I vote for evaluating the maker and the object as a more integrated combo pack… that is, if I am advocating for evaluation anyways… sigh.
On to “A Ribbon Around a Bomb” by Belton very soon… (I’m antidrowning.)