Beyond Material Worth: Session 1


Peter G. Brown

Author and professor of geography at McGill University


Martha Buskirk

Author, editor, and professor of art history and criticism at Montserrat College of Art

Juliet Schor

Author, professor of sociology at Boston College, and co-founder and co-chair of the board of the Center for a New American Dream

Simran Sethi

Award-winning journalist, author, and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications


Erin O'Connor wrote :

To me what is interesting about Sehgal's work, but which few people address, is not the dematerialized object but the demand for direct connection with the viewer/participant. Most people spend, on average, about 10 seconds in front of a painting or sculpture. With Sehgal, unless you turn tail and run away, you end up spending a considerable amount of time with the work, and in the case of the piece at the Guggenheim, you must be in dialogue with the work.

What do the panelists think about this direct connection? So many, if not all, of our encounters in our society are mediated. Is Sehgal tapping into our pure (and maybe I should put that word in quotes, but for the moment I won't) emotions in a way that few other artists have done?

How does that direct connection affect (or relate to) economic policy, or consumption, or religious/world views, to cite some of the topics above?

I would be curious to know your thoughts.
Erin O'Connor posted on 02/23/10
Steve Vaccaro wrote :

My son Clark is one of the child interpreters for This Progress. His involvement in the project stems mainly from his love of art, but as it happens he and I are also dedicated to fostering sustainable urban lifestyles. We rely on bikes as our primary transportation and work with others to organize agitprop-style direct actions to convey themes from the environmental and new urbanism movements. I think Sehgal's work brilliantly conveys the needs for sustainability in art. It also naturally fosters the transition from idea to activism, because it forces the viewer to become a participant and takes sides. But this potential effect of the work is sharply circumscribed when relegated to a museum. Pieces should be designed for performance in public, free of charge.
Steve Vaccaro posted on 02/23/10
Tito von Peja wrote :

For me the main problem with discussing the problems of planetary survival is how to make the enormity of situation clear without making it seem completely hopeless—if we're beyond the point of no return, why bother doing anything at all? I would be curious to hear the panel members address this question and discuss strategies for motivating people. It makes sense to me that the idea of sustainability may be an ineffectual half measure, but is it realistic to assume a revolutionary leap will occur? To put it more broadly: how does one convert activism into social change?
Tito von Peja posted on 02/23/10
artist / educator TRACEE PICKETT wrote :

I now wonder, with all of the devices and massive interludes of entertainment news for so long, whether the general public has the ability to listen carefully to works of art or even writings that suggest that our society today in the US has gone in the wrong direction. Several years ago, I began to think that maybe the statement of our work should now reflect the beauty of what the world could be, as if artists were visionaries of better worlds.

In paintings today, if we reflect what is going on, and our students and viewers understand our messages, how does that translate to the general population if that work is brought to greater visibility? Does the general populace of today then take the warning of the meaning of that work and then act accordingly, or does the general populace just absorb the interaction and then reflect that spirit of the work in perhaps a subconscious way? I don’t know the answer to this, though I do know that the study of this area is important for artists of today more than ever to understand how their work translates to the populace, and of course sometimes simply for themselves.

But this still does not answer the question of how do we directly relay our emotions into timeless works and help to create a direct impact into the societal patterns of frenzied consumerism. My conclusion is that with the mass populace, a positive reflection will hopefully create a positive reaction with time. If we show the world at this very lost time something encompassed with exquisitely rendered beauty within emotion, then perhaps we could jog those emotions back into our general populace when given enough of that expression.
artist / educator TRACEE PICKETT posted on 02/22/10

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