Walking in the Sun

In the post-marxist cultural world of contemporary art (don’t fool yourself, it exists outside of North Korea), the sun on the saskatoon bush below is not considered art, nor is the moment of seeing of the human who saw it. In contemporary “art practice” intellectual traditions, art consists of the elimination of physical responses to the earth in favour of intellectual and social ones, in keeping with the built environments which most humans have laid down as their orientation in space and time, but not just that: the social response, the one that comes from physical presence in the world and which calls this beauty…


… is to be surgically removed from social conversation by the intellectual traditions of art. It is considered that they lie at the heart of social oppression and ignorance and only by the “enlightenment” process of eliminating them from the social world, with an accompanying addition of physical representations of intellectual ideas (which is called “art installation”), can progress towards a just society be made. Unfortunately, one cannot have one’s cake and eat it too. If you turn away from this…

P1010344 … you have turned away from the earth. It should come as no surprise that the earth is in distress. In the age of the Anthropocene, the human dominated age of the earth, the majority of elite-educated human practitioners of the ancient practice of created line, image and word to represent the body in the space of the earth have turned from the earth and have put themselves in its place. You will not find this in an art gallery, for instance:


… and yet is you, reaching for the light. Art, like poetry, is part of the world. To usurp that power and call it human is to put humans in place of the world. That might not be so bad, except that the darned creatures only fit to the extent of the physicality with which they confront the earth. If humans wish to merge with the earth on the level of intellectual and social traditions alone, they will, and find themselves estranged from it physically, and all which they do will not fix the physical problems they have brought to the earth. For a long time, artists have laboured under the myth that they are not part of the problem — as if they were not somehow part of the culture of which they speak — and that their physical selves are not part of the solution, as if they were not part of the physical earth or the physical earth a part of them. There are very clear social and historical reasons why this error crept in, but it’s time to put an end to it. And as for Copernicus’s idea that the sun lies at a distance from the earth and the earth revolves around it, well, that’s not it, really. For the love of the Earth, look:

P1010318We are walking in the sun.



1 reply »

  1. Howard, you have the realm of “contemporary art practice” nailed. I have a colleague whose e-mails always conclude with the title “installation artist” along with an academic title, and whenever I see this I think of the hard-working people who might come to one’s home to actually INSTALL a new window or door (like my older son!) and all of us, really, who are paying for the nonsense that parades as “education” in Art. Since I am starting to rant let me back off and say that all is not lost, because not only is the public voting with their feet with regard to this “practice”, I think the students are starting to walk, too. None to soon.


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