'Reparative' - 2022
I started this task by dissecting the word ‘reparative’ and how I felt it related to my practice. This felt like a natural starting point to start discussing the art world; and how we can repair it.
To repair, arguably we must critically analyse power and how it is dispersed in the art world. The art critic Clive Bell felt he had so much power within the art world that he was bold enough to claim that “no more than one in a hundred” (Crowther, 2003) of the artworks produced in western Europe between 1450 and 1850 can be described as art. It is also claimed that Clement Greenberg’s “ideas now define” (Lesso, 2020) the “Modernist era” (ibid), and that he has “shaped Modernist Art” (ibid). Greenberg’s “writing” (ibid) was crucial to launching Jackson Pollock’s career. He was also sexist in his writings towards female artists such as Janet Sobel by labelling her as a “housewife” (Zalman, 2015). Here we can see the damaging agenda of male white critics.
The metaphor of the broken plate is an imperative theme to this writing. I am very inspired by the Japanese artform of Kintsugi. In this artform, broken ceramics are glued together with gold glue; revealing the cracks. The parallels to the artworld for me were evident. Arguably there is a lot of airbrushing in art history. For instance, Greenberg “diminishing the magnitude” (Grovier, 2022) of Jackson Pollock seeing Janet Sobel’s work for the first time. Consequently Sobel did not get the recognition she deserved for her contributions to drip painting. Arguably airbrushing out the mistakes in art history is incredibly damaging. Conceivably trying to forget that these mistakes happened is inevitably going to ensue in similar incidents taking place. With the broken plate I am suggesting that this damage should be shown, to progress we should highlight that we have made mistakes.
I was inspired by the work of Pipilotti Rist; specifically her work ‘Ever is Over All’. Personally this video feels like a release of anger, smashing the car windows is a cathartic and healing experience for Rist. It intrigued me that damage could be healing. This paradoxical element to the work particularly inspired my writing. Due to the fact that healing this damaged plate was a therapeutic and relaxing experience for me to do.
I believe the art world is broken in multiple ways. Women being purposefully left out of history books is not the only issue. The lack of arts funding is a paramount problem in contemporary art. In the text I made parallels to the art world being like a broken plate, smashed and damaged; however it is not beyond repair. I mentioned the lack of funding in the arts, for example Goldsmiths is currently losing ‘£2 million in funding each year.’ (O'Byrne Mulligan, 2021) I wanted to shock my audience with these statistics, to evidence just how damaged the art world is. It was important to show how disrespected the arts are, therefore I highlighted the vile behaviour of the Conservatives partying at the Royal College of Art. Consequently closing the studios during a crucial time in the academic year for students. I wanted to reflect the anger I felt in my work. Therefore in the voiceover I become angry, it’s a real expression of the pain I feel knowing that my degree is not respected by people in power.