the content and the container

So I guess it is time for me to recount the passing of the performance I did at Art Chicago. The basic outline of the piece is that two “agents” walk into the place, video camera in hand, and scope out the action in an aggressive manner – obviously looking for something or someone in particular.

I had gone into this piece in the hopes of creating a disturbance, giving an artist or gallery owner reason to speak out about the intrusion of authority without right in their spaces. But what I got instead left me morose and with sadness I still can not shake.

As we strode through the spaces, my companion agent and I (followed closely by a photographer), we specifically filmed people, recording both the viewers interest in a piece and documenting the piece in a way that was intended to make the gallery owners and artists feel threatened. What we got for our intrusion were sidelong glances and guilty looks – the timid stares of those who would rather you didn’t do what you were doing, but who were too lazy or afraid to stop us.

We were questioned by people about who we were (one women actually asked if we were the CIA, to which I replied no). But not a single artist stopped us – though many starred at me, when I turned to face them they quickly looked away.

What I saw there that day made me realize something about the idea of art. I finally see that there are two distinct groups of people making two distinct kinds of work and both calling it “art”. These groups interchange ideas, but one is constantly evolving and making something never made before and the other is continually exploring the range of each idea being expounded by the first. The second group merely recreates the first group’s works over and over – subtlety changing the variables of the content but never adding to the original idea.

Why are there so few words to describe the most important facet of human evolution (creativity)? How is it that in the English language (the one to which my thoughts are currently confined) there is so wide a range of ideal placed in that one word? When will society begin to see the difference between the content and the container?


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