Paul Clay on 11 Mar 2001 02:57:31 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Re: madness and art

I know very little about this topic, but it strikes me that many people who
can be classified by some other aspect of their life can also be said to be
artists, yet these two things may bear little relationship to one another.
Leni Riefenstahl was an artist and also Nazi propagandist, yet we do not
expect her politics to indicate some quality which all artists share.

The whole idea of using psychology and personality to understand artists
doesn't strike me as a particularly revealing avenue of study.

I think artists do operate by creating meanings outside the mundane in some
way. Conveying impressions which travel interstitially, between the
culturally defined catagories constituting a particular world view. Whether
it is as traditional craft practices in folk societies which are done to
alter perception through religion and the sacred, or contemporary art in the
pseudo-western global culture mix which creates unexpected disjunctures in
our usual thinking, in all cases the work brings perceptions outside the
boundaries of day to day existence.

I think it was James Turell who once said he thought that people had no more
control over the urban sprawl of structures in New York City than the coral
do of the Great Barrier Reef. We are part of larger processes, and while
analyzing our supposed inner psychoses to understand art is flattering, both
this and studying "mad" people who also happen to be artists don't
necessarily get us very far in the process of understanding art and artists.

Its fascinating (and more than a little frightening) to see how much meaning
is being derived from a kind of 19th Century romantic -or even Renaissance-
notion of art, artists, and madness.

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