I’m no prude. I can curse as well as the next person – probably better. Trust me, kids love riding in the car with me. Good for days worth of entertainment. And yet the trend toward cursing and criticizing as a form of humor in design, books, etc., still bothers me. It seems, in part, to be a result of the appropriation of street culture by mainstream culture, but I think something vital is lost in the translation. Street culture or the art of the disenfranchised are often driven by a need to express anger and dissatisfaction with the status quo. That’s where they get their power. Even when the line between street culture and mainstream culture gets blurred, curses and nasty comments as releases of real anger can be artistically effective. When Eminem shoots off a string of profanities, it makes sense. It’s angry. Really angry. And the fact is I love his music. The recent explosion of the children’s book Go The Fu*k To Sleep, however, is another story.
Disclaimer: I am sure this theory is a wild over-generalization. I like to make up assertions based on ridiculously small sample sets. So admittedly this is more an entertaining exploration of ideas than a statement of fact. But also know that do I tend to be right. The beauty of being a blogger (career path number 7) rather than being an academic (career path number 3) being that you can be a little more irresponsible in sharing your thought processes.
Given my fixation on street art, I been speculating that street art, and street art cum public art, tend to thrive during periods of economic difficulty. Folk art (which has now generally morphed into street art) has always tended to be the voice of the (metaphorically if not literally) disenfranchised. But during times of great economic stress, it becomes appropriated by the dominant vernacular. And so what you get, is a proliferation of particularly good artistic production with roots and references in street art. Looking at the turn of the century in the West, the avant-garde which challenged the established rules of artistic production, turned to folk art for a lot of its language. It was the voice of a society in crisis, leading into and just following World War I. With the Great Depression, Roosevelt turn to a heavy investment in public art as one channel for economic recovery and social inspiration. The voice of the “masses” and their “language” were suddenly of much greater political significance. But the appropriation of their artistic language by the institutions in power also becomes a way to control the masses. Sending uplifting messages through public art based in the public vernacular, while in part a reflection of the increasing political significance of the general public, is also a way of controlling the population by using their language to reassure them that everything is or will be okay. That is why it is also such a popular tool for authoritarian governments. WPA art, Communist Art (under Stalin and in China), Fascist art and Nazi art, all look quite similar (perhaps the topic of my next post).
I’m of the opinion that we collect kitschy deer art. My husband likes to point out that we only have one art object which is a deer:
Every season I look forward to seeing what Viktor & Rolf will deliver. These are garments you are not likely to see on your next door neighbor, or even at that black tie holiday gala. Viktor and Rolf are artists, and they create exquisite and elaborate confections that demonstrate that fashion is, in fact, a four dimensional art form – only truly understood and appreciated if you watch it move and transform through space over time. A favorite of mine remains, over ten years later, the matrioshka doll from their Winter 1999-2000 collection. (It’s a little long, so you may want to skip ahead, but if you have some time it’s really worth watching.)
One of the primary themes in this spring’s shows was femininity. Beautiful, delicate, lacy clothes, that were all girl. The best collections, however, wove a touch of irony into their expressions of femininity. Viktor & Rolf’s collection was most fabulous in its over-the-top unrelenting sticky sweetness. The models were Barbie doll birthday cakes. The final piece in the show was a wedding gown, but the piece de resistance was a multi-tiered pink number that was a little bit deconstructed Cinderella.
HAPPY TURKEY DAY!
I hope everyone had a great holiday! We went overboard Wednesday night, so I could barely face food today, but Thanksgiving dinner was lovely. I made pumpkin/bourbon/pecan/sourcream cheesecake on Wednesday, so by today no one really needed any more dessert.