The argument that “art is art and life is life” is bourgeois in nature, and self-serving in intent; there can never be any separation of the parts. There is more cultural capital in a single DNA string than in any painting, piece of sculpture, symphony or building; there is more accumulated history in an atom; more human pathos on the front page of the Times – we live immersed in the most pliable medium of all – the happening that occurs at any given engagement with the world, the artistic navigation of multiple potentialities; the creation of unique, discrete histories in the tipping of a tea cup.
Art needs to breathe with the life of its extended organic / material / digital / social&political context, or it will stagnate like petrified relics in a museum of natural history – a remnant of former living put on display for its strangeness, and nothing else. The nearly obsessive entomological tendencies of certain artists to create rigid categories of artistic production ends in a calcification and commoditization of “art” that results only in its death and display – a form of dramatic murder better left to cinematography and literature than to any serious discussion of the relationship between art and life. The ultimate trajectory of this kind of thinking is Walter De Maria’s argument that “art is meaningless.”
But art is neither meaningless, nor can it be understood in absentia; it is a way of engaging life through a method of production that refocuses the dyspeptic eye of civilization upon itself. As such, it is inextricably intertwined with the meaning of living, of culture, of production and of its role within all of these realms. It is a reclaiming of meaningful living that flies in the face of status quo interpretations of life, culture and work. There is nothing strange, nor original, nor unique about this, even if the artifacts of artistic labor seem all three; rather, there is something human, perhaps, too human, about the impulse to both create and to add meaning where little is found. However, to do this, art must live dynamically in the world. The vital force of living art cannot be cowed by the pragmatic politics of artistic production, or by the economic imperative that makes of art a fashion; and the fruits of artistic action commodities for acquisitive elites.
Thus, my work seeks to reintegrate artistic acts into the fabric of the pulsating multitudes; to touch each threadbare trench coat and battered briefcase; to walk in the world, like an entitled citizen of life; and to draw attention to the meaning that surrounds us; to peal back the blinders of intentionality, clog the gears of automatic doing and jam the signal of digitized complacency. It represents a sustained attempt to live maximally and to invite others to do the same; to engage the world on the world’s terms, and to changes these terms as I see fit; to create new contexts out of the discarded bits of being scattered about in the global landfill, to find miracles in junkspace, and enjoyment in the wad of gum that makes us pause, briefly, to examine the sidewalk as a potentially perilous field of unlimited possibilities.