Thursday, July 02, 2009

But is it art?

I went to an exhibition today, called Reality Cheque, which comprises artists' responses to the GFC. A friend of a friend has a work in the show, but I don't want to talk about his fluffy chickens here.

Many of the artworks were thought-provoking, some were funny, and some were simply weird. The one that stood out for me, however, was a photograph of a refrigerator with the door open. The photograph itself was not the artwork but was representative of the "art", which was that the artist, Mark Dahl, left his fridge door open for the duration of Earth Hour.

My first reaction was that such an act of social sabotage was not only pointless but disgustingly selfish. I was incensed. How dare he negate the environmental goodwill cerated by Earth Hour in this way? How can this be art?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this moment of rebellion serves to draw attention to the hidden meaning of Earth Hour and of people's participation in it. It provokes thought and assessment in the viewer; it points out that Earth Hour is no more than a token gesture; that those who participate and feel they have fulfilled their debt to the future for the year are hypocrites; and that deliberately leaving a fridge door open for an hour is probably no greater crime than running an air-conditioner on a hot day.

So, despite my initial reaction to the work, I came to the realisation that this piece of art is actually my favourite of the whole exhibition: it best achieves the aim of all art, which is to reflect the world back to the viewer and change the way they think about reality.

What do you think?

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Very interesting and thought-provoking (both your entry and your description of the art piece!) I often find this to be the case -- a piece I have a strong negative reaction to ends up becoming a favorite. It does indeed best achieve the aim of all art.

I find it very difficult to put into words exactly WHY I like art sometimes, so I really enjoyed reading your thoughts.