So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

02 April, 2007


I just realised something.

The cultural attitude to art and artists looks a whole hell of a lot like another form of the maiden/whore dichotomy.

Art is supposed to be pure, wholesome, holy, untainted by financial concerns: a raw upswelling of pure passion or creative urge. It is supposed to be purely created for the joy of it, or the ecstasy of agony that demands it of the artist, wrings it forth from the soul in a wrenching, inspiring thing, never for anyone else, just this pure, isolate thing. Considering an audience, whether the work is saleable, this is a perversion, corrupting the Twoo Artness -- taking money for this glorious holy thing is vile, is whoredom.

There is a sneering tone to it -- the sellout. The commercial. It's not real, it's this faked-up think, devoid of the genuine passion, because someone expects to be paid for their work rather than producing solely for love. (And Andy Warhol made fun of this, and has left people for decades uncertain of whether or not his work is art.)

This weekend when I was at my training retreat, we talked about art -- about, among other things, a woman who takes as a religious obligation paying for things what she thinks they are actually worth. (And not buying things for which the charge is more than her perception of the value.) About crafting for love, putting things together, and then being ambivalent about whether or not it is reasonable to ask for money for that thing, whether it makes the love of the creation less.

And while we sit here and think about how holy art is, and how degraded commercial art is, artists have a hell of a time making a living wage. Not just because of the contempt for actually paying for the work of producing it -- but because art itself, no matter how holy in the abstract, is seen as pure luxury, pure indulgence, and its production is a waste of time.

Unless, of course, you're getting paid well for it. Maybe. (And a working artist will still get asked, "So, what's your real job?")

Which gets me back to the parallelism of money and sex that I was working with in my Feri training a while back, that I need to dig out and poke at.

And also this post at Bitch, Ph.D. commenting, if only briefly, on art, sex appeal, and Jane Austen.


Vieva said...

*cheers* my art IS art, even if I write for publication. even if it's not *pure*.

And DAMN but it's a lot of work. we DESERVE recompense for it! (if we don't, how would there be more?)

and why is it artists that want to be paid are reviled, but movie stars are expected to be richer than god?

Vieva said...

had another thought. (what, me? really?)

I hate how artwork is only "valid" if it comes from frenzied inspiration. No one takes seriously the amount of /work/ art takes. It's not something that just flows organically from the mind to whatever medium one works in.

But no one wants to hear that it's work. Everyone wants to hear that you're just one of those people from whom ideas/inspiration sparkles out from, and that it's something *different*. Gods forbid you talk about the days you beat your head into the keyboard!

WordK said...

For some reason, this makes me think of Dostoevsky and just how artfully he wrote -- even when frantically working under deadline to pay off his gambling debts.