Thursday, March 31, 2005

Arts Writing and Elitism

A wonderful discussion is continuing on the place of arts writing and elitism in contemporary art. From Mark Vallen's
  • art for a change

  • "A poet living in Southern California made a few points I’ve been wanting to touch upon. Although the poet practices a discipline apart from that of the visual artist, the two are linked in many ways. When artists malign the public for having ‘bad taste’, or when critics say that ‘art is not for everyone’, they fail to see how this is a problem of acculturation. For instance, in much of Latin America crowds fill stadiums during poetry festivals, while such an event is impossible to envision for the US: “I wish I had been present at the forum because the same thing is happening in the world of poetry. Some academics say that poetry is not for everyone. But how come that is not so in many other countries? I grew up in Persia and poetry was in our blood. In the smallest villages, even the illiterate could recite poetry by heart. In Afghanistan they have resorted to sending a poet to get rivaling clans to talk to one another. This is how much they respect poets and poetry. Yet, in this country sports and television rule. Why? You were right on the dot ... money and attention. Same thing is happening to other forms of art and people like you and me can either shake their heads and say: how sad... Or we can do something about it. Even the smallest contribution is community service and can have a tremendous and lasting effect on the fabric of this country's life and culture."

    The image of a stadium filled for a poetry festival in Latin America is, on one hand a damning indictment of current US culture , and on the other hand a source of immense hope for change. The arts are incredibly powerful and important.

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