Why Make ‘Art’?

To put aside the debate over what constitutes ‘art’ is ultimately impossible: there will always be contention over what legitimately qualifies as art, and indeed what are the criteria for that legitimisation.

Art is different from the ‘everyday’. Is this true? Certainly art is not the same as brushing one’s teeth, shitting, making love, cooking an omelette etc., no matter how many well-intentioned ‘happenings’ and performances by the likes of Allan Kaprow. Any attempts to break down the ‘barriers’ between art and life are doomed to failure, by reinforcing the distinction even as they bring the one into the realm of the other. Why? Because art, whilst different from the everyday, is still part of life as a whole. It is a particularly abstracted form of response to life.

No-one speaks about breaking down the barriers between particle physics and life, or cooking and life, or philosophy and life. These and everything else are part of our existence, whether acknowledged or not. Poetry, mathematics, Hollywood mega-budget extravaganzas – all are in some way different responses to what is called the Human Condition. No-one claims to be interested in blurring the boundaries between cinema and the everyday setting, or the operating theatre, kitchen, schoolroom and the everyday. But artists and critics seem bent on destroying – or perhaps questioning would be better – the gallery, the institution, and the quintessential ‘white cube’ of the exhibition space.

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