English 430: Literature & the Visual Arts

December 15, 2009

Offensive or Creative? You Decide . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — corricrystal @ 5:52 pm

The book is no longer restricted to be the vehicle though which we experience art (through reading); rather, the book itself is now considered art. Being a visual person, this new appreciation  for the book as an art form makes me very happy. Our time at our library, and at the Getty proves that this is indeed a worthwhile genre of art. In The Century of Artists’ Books, Johanna Drucker states that “the artist’s book has to be understood as a highly mutable form, one which cannot be definitively pinned down by formal characteristics” (11).  All of the magnificent work that we observed during both of our field-trips, were in my opinion, works of art.  However, this is a subjective art form, and Marcia from the Getty, proved this when she mentioned the artist who put urine in an envelope, and called it art. To me, this is done for shock value more than any attempt to make art. Just as “Dieter Roth shredded paper, boiled it, and filled animal intestines to make “literary sausages” (13). I don’t consider this art, however someone else might consider it to be brilliantly ironic and creative.

Our opinion of what constitutes art has a lot to do with our sensitivity level. For instance, animal intestine filled paper is offensive to me. I am sensitive when it comes to the treatment of animals, and this affects my sensitivities. As does the urine filled envelope, simply because it seems gross and without purpose. Furthermore, I have mixed emotions concerning Duchamp’s book entitled “Do Touch, with a female breast cast on its cover” (13). I have no issue with the breast cover, it is the title that makes me uncomfortable. Without the title I could view this as a form of ‘book sculpture’ and appreciate it. It is the words that change the meaning. With the title it now becomes a way of objectifying women. It is no longer just about the beautiful female form; rather, how this form is a way in which the male can become erotically stimulated (by touching it as the title directs). In essence the female only has value because of its relationship to man. Hmm . . . I think I might have just made Gloria Steinem proud with that last rant. Other viewers, including many women, might love this particular ‘book sculpture’ . They might find it to be rather ‘tongue and cheek’, and completely harmless. Ultimately, it is “the desire to make a voice heard, or a vision available, [that] fuels, artist’s books” (7). Whether or not a viewer likes the message is another story.

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