Open Thread: I Don't Know What Art Is
A long jaunt through our personal art histories.
A few days ago in the Tabs discord,shared this Instagram post by British performance-sculptor William Cobbing and I’ve thought about it roughly every three hours since. Here’s one of the performances from it, called Work-in-progress (2020):
It’s about physical engagement in slimy and gloopy material, covering my head with it, creating a sense of suffocation, turning the body into a kind of visceral mound of slapstick energy, and also inhibiting sight so more attention is given to touch. It’s about the contradictory psychological effects of the material, how it moves between attraction and repulsion, humour and fear. There’s also an ASMR type of sound from squidging clay, which is quite seductive and strangely calming.
He also got into NFTs last year I guess, but a lot of artists did. They didn’t know better.
I don’t know what art is, but I do know that artworks can set a hook in me like this, for days or weeks, years (I think about the blood robot all the time), sometimes for decades. I still find myself mistakenly assuming that everyone has the kicker of the 1981 Stephen King short story “The Jaunt” at their fingertips. I also think about one of King’s shortest stories often, the four-page elementary school revenge fantasy “Here There Be Tygers.”
So Here’s The Prompt: What are your “I never really stop thinking about this” artworks? Recent, long-time, both, whatever. You don’t have to understand it, you don’t have to explain it, you don’t have to have anything intelligent to say about it, and you absolutely don’t have to justify it as “good art” or whatever. Just share the art that has colonized part of your soul and never left. If you can link to it, great, if not maybe someone else can find it. What’s your personal art history?