Have you ever considered any real freedom ?
Freedom from the opinions of others ?
Even the opinions of yourself ?
Is my art solely a result of my life, which differs from yours? Is this enough to don the hat of originality?
And is true originality within our grasp?
Sometimes I really wonder why I even bother to think about being original. To a large extent this is probably a result of the art community, where originality is the great God everyone worships.
Throughout history most original art work in any field has been met with outrage, and ridicule, then to be generally accepted (not necessarily liked) a decade or so later by the general public. Why?
We are simple creatures. We like the familiar. To be honest, we also like change, but only in small doses.
Let us for a moment compare art to an ice cream cone. We all like ice cream, and it might really make your day to try the newest flavour on the market; cherry-doughnut-banana cream. But if an ambitious ice cream maker tells you to shove it up your arse and clench your lips together, and that this will give you the ultimate ice cream experience - well, most people would hesitate.
Most original art work is probably lost due to this phenomena. The art work we recognize as being original is mostly a variation on an established theme. Picasso and his cubism was earth shattering at the time, but today we see how even he was bound by his classical training. Artists trained in classical sculpture and painting know that cubist shapes are the base for all compositions.
The only original art of this century was created by Duchamp and the Dada movement. They told us that a pisoir could be art, that a bicycle wheel was art, all that needed to be done was to place it in the proper setting, the gallery or museum. That the movement collapsed on itself within a decade is irrelevant. The important message was already there. EVERYTHING CAN BE ART.
Where does that leave the modern artist?
No matter what he does he can never be original.
Eighty years ago art had already been defined as EVERYTHING. Today the best the artist can hope for are variations on this established EVERYTHING.
A depressing thought?
Not for everyone. If everything is art. Well, then let us pretend that we have a group telling us that everything isn't art. That must be original!
There are several such groups. They tell us that their brand of art is important in some way. It could be that colour is our saviour; it could be large work, small work, provocative, classic, modern, concept, video, computer, body, happenings, installation, or any number of variations. The only thing they have in common is their ability to argue their worth based on a number of unique qualities pertaining to their particular branch of art, or more importantly, to their perticular; group, movement, clan or belief.
My point is this: To what degree is our art solely a result of our own free will.
Throughout our schooling we have been taught to obey the teacher, respect our elders, not spit in public etc.
Does becoming a trained artist within the short span of five years negate our upbringing? Are we suddenly without respect for anyone but ourselves? Have we managed to shake the ever present need to be wanted and to feel like we belong? The life of the anarchist is a lonely one.
Let us for a moment pretend we have an artist with absolute freedom of will. He would produce art not pertaining to any specific age group, community or historic reference. He would be truly original.
The only problem...
Absolutely no one would recognize his work as original.
The greatest problem is that our "values" are a comparable quantity. When we see a work of art we immediately compare this to our registered preferences and experiences. If we fail to make the connection between the art we see and our values, well then, we assume that the art piece sucks. A value is NOT original, we all have them. So any piece of art exhibiting any value cannot be original.
Only art without any value at all, which in no way makes us feel anything, should be labelled original.
The obvious problem is that no one would recognize it as being original.
The moment an art critic exclaims, "What an original work of art!" The art piece is awarded a "value", and ceases to be original.
Anything remotely exhibiting any value whatsoever cannot be original.
A "value" just isn't original, no matter how obscure.
Anything exhibiting any value what-so-ever will always be just a poor imitation.