In a separate blog post, “What Art Is Really About, Trippy & True,” I wrote about a common question of the curious who asks about an artist’s work, “What does it mean?”
That blog post includes hints of where art comes from, how the meaning evolves even for the artist, and that the truest answers lie in the eye and soul of the beholder.
Now, I’m adding these thoughts:
Art is many things. Obviously. It would be foolish to presume that the previous post could be the end-all explanation of anything.
But in thinking about this specific work, the one below, I thought about how it likely evokes a visceral response, due to the religious iconography of the crucifixes. I imagine that turns with a quickness to judgment of the piece and my intentions, and leads to presumptions of who I am, what I’m saying, what I’m about more broadly, etc.
“When people make judgments they close all the possibility around them.” – Jeff Koons
Good. Of the many things art is or can be, is the power to evoke emotion and, for the reflection-inclined, thoughtful consideration.
There’s a funny Venn diagram meme on the social webs that places “Hey, buddy!” at the intersection of three circles of circumstance: petting a dog, consoling a child and starting a fight.
Likewise, the questions I noted above can come with a tone of judgment and fire, or honest curiosity and intellectual stimulation: “Who is this artist?” and “What is he saying?” and “What is he about?”
Art as evocateur, is an opinionated stake in the ground. Art of this kind, immediately establishes a line in which our emotions and senses of identity can feel triggered. With crucifixes, it becomes clear that the three figures in this work are religious, even possibly priests, given the silhouetted appearance of their priestly robes. (They are.)
The Xs over their eyes and the markings over their mouths … and I can only guess how many other elements evoke reaction. Or response. (There is a distinction. If you don’t know what it is, you’re reactive, not responsive.)
I’ve not been public with much work that could easily be identified as political. Then again, I recently published on this blog some thoughts on how everything is political, even if I were only aiming for more people-pleasing “pretty pictures.” (Read: “Oneness vs. Sameness … ”)
On the flipside of the would-be Venn diagram related to this artwork, someone might see the crucifixes, markings over the eyes and mouths, graffiti writing and textures, and viscerally identify with an anti-religious stance.
Good. Art is many things. And in the end, as I wrote in “What Art Is Really About, Trippy & True,” it ultimately comes down to the viewer to complete the work.
If you’re triggered, it’s time to look inward. (Read: “Triggered By Another’s Words? Ask Yourself This Liberating Question … ”) If you’re triggered, it’s about your own experiences, your own held identities and stagnant beliefs, your own unresolved questions.
It’s about who you are and what you’re saying, not me.