Here is a question that I have been asking lately. When is Art dishonest? Perhaps it was the Zeitgeist that compelled me to ask such a question, for lately I have been bombarded with many art shows, both in galleries and museums that share in common an archetypal title such as “From the far to the near: Blind visions of paregoric pragmatism”. My initial impulse has been to disregard the entire exhibit, but, not wanting to appear troglodyte, biting my tongue, I have tried to decipher these titles. I figured that somewhere, hidden in those words, there is an important message that the artists or the curators of such shows want me, the viewer, to comprehend. That is why they came up with these kinds of titles in the first place. After many such instances, I have learned that often, with dictionary at hand, one can derive some meaning from those artsy titles. But then, with meaning in hand, I have visited the exhibit and to my surprise, there is nothing hanging on the wall, or crawling on the ground that relates in any way to the hidden message that I so diligently searched for in my New Collegiate. In fact, though feeling betrayed, I often decide to just look at the art contained within the exhibition space –thinking that given my intellectual flaws I am not capable of making the connection between exhibition title and it’s contents that an obviously highly intelligent form has created– and again find myself at a loss. For very often, there is no connection that I can gather, among the various pieces hung. So I leave the gallery/museum feeling that somewhere along, when cells were actively dividing inside my mother’s womb, serious divisional errors occurred during the formation of my telencephalon, resulting in my inability to appreciate the show I leave behind. The situation is further aggravated when I meet, later on, some acquaintances that have enjoyed thoroughly the show. Their faces are swollen with divine grace, no doubt achieved at the exhibit. This really makes me mad, so I begin questioning them. At first, unaccustomed to being questioned, they looked at me beatifically, proceeding to imply that I had not “comprehended” the artists’ or curators’ motives. But when I pursue, relentlessly, questioning them often found that they are people seriously ill. They have been infected with that, practically fatal, neurotropic virus that makes people see clothing where there is none, especially the emperor’s. Will we see again during our lifetime exhibitions that promise us that inside those walls will be oranges, and that indeed we’ll find oranges hanging from the walls? Who knows? Perhaps a topic for another occasion.
S.B. May, 2002