A Critique of the Viewer: Continued
"In the absence of an official guide to the work some participants took matters into their own hands. At one point during the afternoon, Nick Powers, a professor who teaches black literature at SUNY Westbury, stood at the Sphinx’s backside to warn viewers about the significance of posing for comical photos in front of it. His words drew applause from some nearby spectators.”What a lot of people of color in this room are feeling but just haven’t said out loud is that they don’t like how folks pose in front of this statue dedicated to the violence of slavery,” Powers said. “It’s actually a collective feeling.”
Moments later, a young white woman working with Creative Time came over to ask that Powers make it clear that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the organization. Several women of color who overheard the encounter questioned why Creative Time had not instead confronted the numerous participants who had taken offensive photographs in front of the sculpture.
But such tense interactions are to be expected when dealing with work that deals with race so specifically. Still, Walker’s work remains deeply resonant, said Bill Gaskins, a Cornell University art professor.”One of the things that people forget is that art at its best is much more of a reflection of the viewer than it is of the maker. All of the sweetness and the bitterness of the response to this work is what makes it art.”While Walker didn't demand a huge amount of control over the viewer and crowd induced experience Marina Abramovic does the opposite in her latest "nothing" long-term, performance art work at London's Serpentine Gallery. Abramovic said "she did not want people to take photographs of things “they don’t even experience." According to Hannah Furness with The Telegraph "The Belgrade-born artist, 67, will spend eight hours a day at London’s Serpentine Gallery for the duration of her exhibition, which features the artist leading the audience by the hand, whispering to them and giving instructions. Abramovic will even unlock and close the white-walled London gallery herself." Perhaps Abramovic is teaching the viewer how to be human, how to engage with art and self again. Should she have to do this? This is as telling as the fallout from Walker's "A Subtlety." Ah, then there is the ART WORLD'S public's engagement with Jeff Koon's retrospective at the Whitney. I'm leaving that conversation short. Read up here if you'd like. I would not censor a single work of art- not from the most beautifully still work to the most aggressively cruel and ugly. It all exists for a reason even if you don't get it right now. I'm pushing back heavily on the art viewer now- I don't think you're living up to your side of the bargain. Read up on these three exhibitions- http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2014/06/30/selfie-culture-and-kara-walkers-a-subtlety/ http://theresaandersonart.com/links-about-the-everyday/ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/10888234/Marina-Abramovic-bans-mobile-phones-from-latest-exhibition.html http://theresaandersonart.com/tony-labat-elevation-denver/