Great Debate About Art 3

26 Apr 2015 – 7 Jun 2015

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For GDA3, five artists were asked to translate the complexity and wealth of ideas from “The Great Debate about Art,” by Roy Harris, into a visual form. This allows the exhibition to bring together the competing strains of intellectualized and aestheticized craft, while smartly exchanging different solutions for the same context.


As imagined, each artist in the exhibition had their own way of reacting to the book. For Erika Keck the book left her with more questions than answers, the biggest of all being “ What or who then defines a work of art? This lead me to make a work of art like I would make any other work of art. However, the work of art comes with a contract that clearly defines the terms and conditions of what makes the piece a work of art. Should any of the terms be violated the piece will no longer be a work of art.” 

Martynka Wawrzyniak was reinforced in her own feelings about the art world: “As an artist I have to be careful not to analyze the art world system too much as it discourages me from ever making art again.” The newly created work for the exhibition is a metaphor for how she approaches the creative process, and in order to shut out the outside (art)world, the artist wears silicone earplugs while reading, afterwards covering the book’s cover with the wax. Thus mummifying and objectifying the book into a work of art itself, its premise protected. 

Anne Doran from her end has been dealing with the issues addressed in the book since 1985 by creating subjective art from public images in circulation, using them to speak about the commodification of desire, the loss of self and the dynamics of power relations in modern society. Included in the exhibition are large-scale photograph-and-aluminum wall-reliefs based on collages of appropriated pictures sourced from porn magazines, corporate reports, advertising circulars, and military periodicals. Fragmenting and recombining these images in free-associative fashion, Doran re-deployed their fetishizing treatment of objects and bodies and their conflation of different sorts of desire—for sex, for commodities, for lifestyles, for power—in new, open-ended narratives both personal and political. While indebted to the appropriation strategies of an earlier generation of artists, these works also anticipated the atomized content of our digital age. 

Since the start of 2015, for seven months, "The Great Debate About Art," a book by Roy Harris, Professor Emeritus of General Linguistics in the University of Oxford, serves as the basis for an exhibition series that comments on certain aspects of the current art market.


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