Grappling with Jacques Rancière, trying to get a grip on the concept of the “ethical regime of art”;
in which artistic images are evaluated in terms of their utility to society. This is linked by Rancière with Plato’s banishment of painters from his ideal community.
Rancière associates this “regime” with the antique idea that defines artwork as common craft labor. Under this regime, he writes, the mimetician provides a public stage for the ‘private’ principle of work (The Politics of Aesthetics p. 43) — that is, artists’ work cannot be granted too much power or acclaim because the laborer performing the “artistic” task of imitating reality operates according to the same criteria as someone making a bucket, and in this, Plato’s, aristocratic way of thinking, common laborers have no voice within society.
Thérèse Lebrun: Concrétion, 2015
I’m not happy to read Rancière, his language is far to dense and, most of the time: incomprehensible. But I also have a vague feeling that there is something, in this textual maze that I would like to know – …
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Well, except for artists and a few individuals I would say most people agree with Plato. But, having said that, “try using a bucket with a hole in it Plato!” We labourers and artists can really mess you up 😦
But by the time the revolution starts there is little art in it.
I just think it would be nice if a number of artists and labourers could live in something other than abject poverty. In some countries, not long ago, a successful artist was not an EGO, I mean beyond being satisfied with work done well. You could go to them to beautify or enliven or inform your objects, environments and dreams, while they could enjoy a comfortable life within a community.
Twenty-five years ago I met a woman who was selling batik scarves to the gift shop at the Museum of Civilization, made by her lover in place where his family had been the local artists for 12 generations, not making batik scarves for rich westerners but birth and death and wedding announcements, decorating walls and making household items beautiful. Was he any less of an artist for having inherited his profession and for not having been recognized as such by the thrashing machine that was Western Art? Was the demise of his profession caused by his lack of talent or an inability to answer the technology that provides images faster and cheaper and with an unending rate of reproduction? Depends on who you ask.
I suppose I should read some of the related reading before commenting. But it hasn’t stopped me so far. (But I will look them up.)
When I only had reproductions of famous works of art to look at I HATED Van Gogh and loved Gaugin. When I got to see the actual paintings I LOVED Van Gogh and disliked Gaugin. Standing in front of each I could see how each saw. I could see the paint as it was applied and the person who applied it. The repetition of the images did nothing for the work except make it recognizable and perhaps comfortable for enough people that they could accept the value of the work. Being contrary myself, it had the opposite effect.
I just think it would be nice if people recognised art as necessary to their lives and environments in the way electricity is. And that the people who produce art might not be so embarrassed, angry, depressed, or crazy because they are hungry and unrecognized and outside the community.
As far as being banished from the community, there are so many people being banished from the community these days that artists are like the pain receptors in the collective consciousness. Only producing buckets with holes in them in an effort to draw attention to a growing malaise.
All sorts of thoughts leap to mind: Plato himself was creative in that he expressed his ideas in words, otherwise how would we know what he thought; bucket makers are often better compensated than artists; my dad was not an artist but he built beautiful houses and I would be proud to be a labourer like him; weaving is both art and labour. In response to Rio (above comment), when I first went to the National Gallery I intended to buy a postcard of the paintings I liked best. After I saw the real ‘Irises’ by Van Gogh, I could not buy the postcard since nothing could capture the real painting.