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  • Writer's picturematilde tomat

wk 01 : to hell w/ culture

This was my very first day EVER, my very first LECTURE and then SEMINAR.

I had no idea what to expect nor think. I only know that I did the reading, I filled in the forms, I printed the slides and the material and I felt ready: the pencil was sharpened, the coffee warm, the sofa comfortable and the cats locked away coz don't get me started with them [eye rolling]

I have decided to blog about my weeks at uni and to use this as a platform for my own study & revision, notes & links, ideas & thoughts, and to monitor my own progression and development. I found it extremely useful while at College for my Foundation years and hence I have decided to replicate the experience. I have created some categories for the blog entries and this system will also assist me in the preparation and presentation of my own portfolio re. the creative practice side of my university course. Namely, these categories are: bibliography + research, studio practice, projects, theory, tutorial / feedback / targets, and work experience.

The course seems to be centred around the question of what art is, and why it does matter. Why do we make art? Why are we so attracted to this concept of art? What is it this thing / characteristic / essence within objects or arrangement of objects that makes them art works? Is art doing anything in us? We will try to respond to these questions using analysis, synthesis, research and, of course, writing!

There was already a lot in this first lecture - and then seminar - about the idea of art as an experience: are we moved by it? Shall we be moved by it? And does it have to be beautiful to be moved by it? In order to explore some of the first ideas, we read both Avant-garde and kitsch by C. Greenberg and To Hell with Culture by H. Read. I feel I always struggle with the idea that art "has to be" social and that there is beauty "in everything". And the reason is that I noticed that the ones aiming to give art to the masses and involve everyone in creative endeavours, do so most of the times by the means of criticising the ones "who have privileges" as if they are to despise and not mingle with because they "don't know what real life is". And I think bollocks to that! But, as the first week goes, I kept my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself.

We have been asked to watch a couple of videos, which I will link here:


As much as I personally found Read's video not interesting as I hoped, I personally found instead the sketch highly irritating as if the portrayal of two people, who seem to understand nothing about art, was something to laugh about; as if ignorance was something laughable. As I find irritating the ones laughing at shows such as Content Provider by Stewart Lee: I don't think that there is anything to laugh about. Instead, what is portrayed is very sad...

So, as artists: do we want to affect people? Do we want to open their minds? And, also, isn't it true that all these conversations about art, and art to the masses, and the role of art for the working class, all these words and essays and researches are still read and discussed only by people who are already involved with art, already educated? The "inclusiveness" that Read mentions, in the end, includes only the ones who are reading Read. And not Jack + Jill down the lane.

On one side I see the rich and privileged who dominate the art scene and decide who can be their friend; and on the other side the ones who stick together like glue and criticise the privileged and write many words about the situation while discussing inclusivity but if you don't agree with them, they don't accept you in their "open circle".

And I don't know where I belong.


It is true: I don't know where I belong and this has nothing to do with Brexit or with being an Italian walking on foreign soil. I can only state, for now, what I believe in: I don't think that being educated and upper middle class and having had "privileges" is something to demonise, criticise and frowned upon. My own knowledge, education, striving to become a better person, likes and dislikes and appreciation for things which are, yes! beautiful, well designed and well made and even expensive come by my own family, heritage, background, past, nationality and culture and I am very proud of who I am and where I come from. And it is also hard earned. Do I come from a privileged family and was I offered more opportunities than other people? Yes, but this is not a fault, nor something to blame, nor I am guilty about it. I am also annoyed and tired of victimhood and martyrdom and finger-pointing. There is good art out there, but also a lot of crap and show-and-tell and craft sold as if it were art. Not everyone is an artist, not everything placed on a plinth or in a frame is a work of art. Entitlement is the disease of this times.

If we want to be all-inclusive and to give everyone the possibility of making art, let's do it: to the poor as to the rich, to the ignorant as to the educated. If we don't want to be excluded, let's start by stopping excluding the ones we don't agree with.

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