Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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10/23/2005: "Art in the 21st Century?"

Tonight I was washing out dirty brushes while listening to Ali G, this guy who pretends to be an idiotic gangster while interviewing real public figures. At a certain point my TIVO changed channels to record a PBS show called Art in the 21st Century, which I'd never seen before.

It came on and just from listening to it, I couldn't tell if the show was for real or if it was another parody like Ali G. For one thing, it started off with a list of the show's sponsors that went on and on and on, the last was the Andy Warhol reminded me of the start of the movie Space Balls, where there is this big ship moving through space and the joke is that it just keeps coming and coming and coming. Then only listening to the artists describe their work, it *could* have been a parody...the way artists speak about their work.

Rather quickly I realized it wasn't (a parody)...the artist Cai Guo-Qiang said, ironically, that "art is not about what you *say*". I want work to speak for itself...but I also love hearing *how* other artists work...the process of it.

I replayed it after I was finished cleaning my brushes and listening to the artists while seeing their work, was a very different experience. One artist in particular impressed me, a woman named Layla Ali. It was so interesting; I'm actually excited now and looking forward to the next new show.

I guess ultimately I'm torn between being exasperated by art speak, and being fascinated and drawn in by it.

Replies: 2 Comments

on Monday, October 24th,">Jackie said

E: This is the third season for Art:21. I missed all but one episode last year, and then found the DVDs/video tapes were availabe at the library, so I watched all of Seasons 1 & 2. I really find it fascinating to listen to the artists and see them at work. I don't know how PBS selected the artists they did - but it sure makes one feel 'normal'! I am not big into 'artspeak' either - but I 'd rather hear an artist who created the work describe what was going through her mind, rather than a critic. Critic is a dirty word for me - I run the other way from their 'reviews' (whether it's art, literature, or movies).
Anyway - I find the series oddly fascinating. My partner hates it. There were only 4 shows this 'season', so down here, they've all aired, and I only caught one. Wish I had TIVO!

on Monday, October 24th, Elise said

TIVO is great even if you don't have cable and don't watch a lot of TV, because you can watch what you want when you feel like it (or not) and no commercials ever again.

Anyway, that might have been the last one here as well...bummer. I wish I had found it sooner. There used to be a great art show on PBS called "The Egg" but I think it got cancelled. Hopefully Art:21 will be around for awhile.