A recent thought

Though probably not a wholly original one, one that holds my interest with a kind of dreadful inevitability. That is, the fundamental quality of unknowability which I believe lies at the core of one’s expectation of art. Something seemed to come to a head whilst reading some Zizek. A copy of The Plague of Fantasies which my sister kindly bought me for Christmas. He writes about Josef Fritzl in describing the eternal condition of never being able to know another human being fully. In regard to Fritzl, he is transformed, through the discovery of his subterranean, alternative reality from a respectable Fellow Man to a monstrous Neighbour. How does this shape our conception, or expectation, of art? If at all?

I thought then of Sookie’s compulsion towards Bill in the otherwise fatuous True Blood. Being able to hear people’s thoughts, the realisation of someone who’s thoughts she cannot, who is in fact completely unknowable, she is immediately drawn towards him. Their extra-ordinary predicament thus becomes human, where no one can truly know another.

How does this relate to art and my expectation of art as a viewer? I think this wholly human unknowabilty is fundamental to how we relate to art. To how, even, we experience something as art. For example, we can know a brillo box but we can never fully know Warhol’s Brillo Box. I think I touched on this when talking about Fergus Feehily’s recent exhibition at the Douglas Hyde. I think I thought, in some way, that this was a unique selling point of Feehily’s. But now I think it serves as some reflection of this eternal human dilemma; a trauma sanitised and dealt with on a daily basis through the domain of art. Anyway, something to think about…..

Interesting in this context also….

Interview with Cathy Wilkes

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