Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Against Contexualism

Ever since the birth of modern art with Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" in 1917, it has been tainted with contextualism. The idea is that if you put something out of the context of every day life and put it in the "art" context, suddenly that something becomes an object d'art. I sometimes even encounter individuals who equate art with a machinery that make people become aware of political problems. Nothing is further from art than intentionally manipulated artifacts. Art can only be defined in terms of the uncontextualizable unique inner experience that goes with it, something that stands alone and rejects any contexulization. If Duchamp's fountain is a piece of art, then it is so in far as it invokes in us something that is beyond any verbal description, political statements, or indeed the artist's intentions. A true work of art is beyond any words, and yet induces a flood of words in its praise when the gazers are given opportunities. Even in that case, you cannot simply equate an object d'art with all the verbal praise or the cultural contexts that have been thrown upon it.

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