Is Conceptual Art Theatre?
My colleague Will Small and I started a fake non profit arts group in the 1980's. It was called Southern Colorado Alternative Media. or SCAM.
I have always loved the visual arts, Although I was schooled in Theatre and Video Production. I was especially intrigued by the fraud of conceptual art. I always felt conceptual art was an intentional fraud, to get back at, or teach a lesson to the greedy capitalistic gallery owners and the pedantic art world in general. Like a spoiled child, conceptual artists would teach the “parent”, i.e. gallery owner/art academic, a lesson by making them prove their love by eating the mud pie they had just made.
HMMM tasty conceptual art!
When I had an opportunity to run my own theatre/gallery I resisted conceptual art, as selling it can be problematic.( had I more business acumen I would of loved screwing art buyers into buying a bottle of "Paris Air" for thousand of dollars, now that is ART!) I focused mostly on local painters and sculptors, with a few forays into installation and assemblage. But for the most part I produced theatre, albeit avant garde theatre. I was so intrigued by conceptual art that I created a character named Pinko Marx who was a conceptual artist and allegedly the illegitimate son of Groucho Marx and Marilyn Monroe ( who had an affair when they were filming the 1950 comedy “Love Happy”). This alter ego served me very well in many ways it gave me a good deal of room to experiment with installation and performance, and fueled my desire to be a conceptual artist.
Conceptual art is a tricky subject still. as an art form or genre I love it. The gallery system hates it because there is nothing really to sell. how do you sell an idea? Is Yoko Ono’s card with the word BREATHE on it that was printed in 1966 any more valuable than one that she printed in 2001 for the year long retrospective art show that toured the world? isn’t the object just a card with the word BREATHE printed on it? Now anyone working in the ART MARKET will say YES ( just like the title of the traveling show of Yoko’s work).
Is not conceptual art about the idea and not the object.
The 1966 card is more valuable as an object, but what about the factor that allegedly makes it art, the concept, is it more valuable. How do you place value on a concept. ( or a price on things like intellectual property?)
Lets face it conceptual art is the end result of DADA and the Marcel Duchamp ( my fave, he's sooooo dreamy) work “Fountain”. DADA was a reaction, a slap in the face of the art world at the time. To me it is Theatre! All conceptual art is theatre. Now they lump Video , Installation and Performance art into the pedantic sub genre Time Based Media (TBM). GIVE ME A BREAK! just what the world need another sub genre of art!
As I wrote in a play one time ” anything with the word art in it’s title or description ( Conceptual Art, Video art, etc.) Usually ISN'T!”
Another favorite artist of mine besides Duchamp is Andy Warhol. To me, IMHO, Warhol while called a Pop artist by Academia, yet he was really the first post modern performance artist. Andy Warhol WAS art.
For the last 10 or so years I’ve been involved in an experiment to see if I could “play the role” of a conceptual artist. Could I create a work of art that was not an object but an artist, like Warhol had done? ( answer: NO!)
I used a form of my own name this time as a pseudonym... Atomic Elroy ( ah... Tom McElroy). The whole concept has really worked, so far. It was difficult to get the local media to go along at first but as the career that I was building became more legitimate, and my “success” spread, they had no choice but to go along. I chose video art as it was the closest form of conceptual art (TBM) I could pull off. At first I felt somewhat guilty at the SCAM I was perpetrating. Then I read a few bio and artist statements of famous artists. I came to the conclusion that in general I was right back in the 1980’s most conceptual art is a SCAM. In the same way theatre is, you make people suspend disbelief. You put on a show. You "ACT LIKE AN ARTIST" Now I have no compunction in selling my work, exhibiting it in foreign countries, or answering the little questionnaires that Art School seniors send me.
I’m NOT saying that only painting and sculpture is art, au contraire, mon ami. IT’S ALL ART. Art is NOT SPECIAL! ( neither are artists, so get over yourselves) It is in my opinion quite common. I mean go to any elementary school on the planet, out of a class of 30 kids at 5 of them have actual talent, making the old uneducated response to abstract expressionism “My kid could do that” totally meaningful. So could mine, and yours, and yours, and yours, and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and!
yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours,and yours, and yours, and yours, and so on. ( apologies to Samuel Beckett)
THE BIG POINT IS... I’m so tired of the “ART WORLD” with it’s pedantic phony PC pretense, I could puke.
But I still LOVE art...
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