Home > Uncategorized > A small note on a filmmaker’s speech about art

A small note on a filmmaker’s speech about art

Some time ago, I stumbled upon this entry from a blog of Jon Jost, who is apparently a fimmaker, and someone who has a few things to say about art. I found this essay he posted, based, apparently on a speech he gave, to be full of interesting ideas and insights, but I certainly don’t agree with all of it. There is a somewhat senseless joke that has been going around, that arguing on the internet is like winning the special olympics, you may win, but people will still think you’re retarded. I think it would be far more true to say that about arguing over the question of what art is. The way we seem to frame the question in modern times make it not worth discussing. There are no right answers, and any definition you attempt is only going to be persuasive for a fashionably brief period of time. Please forgive me for indulging anyway.

Duck Soup or Duck, You Sucker « Jon Jost’s Weblog:

…Artists today remain largely attached to the bohemian concept of art as the function of the alienated loner, and for the most part society encourages this. Art is in these days a business, a matter of marketing, of selling styles, replacing them with new ones as quickly as possible. The substance of art is now, as in almost [all] other realms of life, simply money, of business. That art which is acknowledged is that which makes money and celebrates the making of money, and the rest is swept away. In order to hide this brutal reality we have a kind of kabuki theater in which firm roles are given for each player, be they on or off stage, be they as producer or spectator. The illusion is made that “art” and its corresponding culture is alive, while in fact art is dead but we are loath to admit it, so we carry on with a charade. Young artists pretend to be bohemians….

My thoughts on this are the following:
I think there is both truth and falsehood here. Its true that we are attached to the bohemian concept of the artist, and that young artists are pretending to be bohemians, alienated loners, people who are somehow outside society, looking in, and critiquing it. But the kinds of critiques they so often seem to make, make it ridiculous to say that the kind of art that is acknowledged is that which celebrates the making of money. The young, sensitive, outsiders seem to critique money and the effects of wealth as frequently as anything. But perhaps it is different outside America.

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