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25 Responses

  1. A4
    A4 April 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

    Since art is traditionally about evaluating objects based on critera other than just their utility and conformance to particular objective standards, the idea that it is of utmost importance for the art world to be strictly meritocratic seems incredibly silly and limiting. The conception of art defeats the conception of a stable meritocracy.

    1. A4
      A4 April 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

      Also silly is the conception that each piece of art should be given its own independent metric of value when, despite all the white paint expended in attempts to do so, art cannot be placed in a value-neutral vacuum.

    2. A4
      A4 April 1, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

      So statements like this:

      nothing stifles art as surely as didacticism and an earnest, heavy-handed message — even if it is justified.

      Are entirely arbitrary and based on the premise that true art must be free of the shackles of narrative, meaning, and morality. Personally, I wish more people would grapple with justifications for their personal expressions.

    3. EG
      EG April 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

      Since art is traditionally about evaluating objects based on critera other than just their utility and conformance to particular objective standards

      While I agree that evaluating art should not be about the art object’s conformity to particular objective standards, I believe you are mistaken in saying that traditionally it has not been. Great artistic strides have been made by artists who did not conform to the objective standards of their day, and so caused great artistic scandal.

      1. A4
        A4 April 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

        I believe you are mistaken in saying that traditionally it has not been

        That’s not what I said.

        Great artistic strides have been made by artists who did not conform to the objective standards of their day, and so caused great artistic scandal.

        This is a lot closer to what I said than your above characterization.

        1. EG
          EG April 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

          I disagree. You said ” art is traditionally about evaluating objects based on critera other than…conformance to particular objective standards.”

          What did you mean by “traditionally,” if not how art has been evaluated over the years, which can be accurately represented by the past tense (my use of “has been”)?

        2. A4
          A4 April 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm |

          What did you mean by “traditionally,” if not how art has been evaluated over the years, which can be accurately represented by the past tense (my use of “has been”)?

          Well I think the recognition of one tradition does not preclude the existence of any other traditions. But I think that unique to the human tradition of art is the constancy of a longstanding tradition of using art to defy objective measures of value.

          The tradition of using objective values to measure humans and their output is not specific to art, but I would say that art is the field in which claims of objective value are inherently illegitimate which is why saying the art world should be a meritocracy is particularly silly. Many other realms of human discourse exist in which arguments for meritocracies have, well, more merit.

        3. EG
          EG April 1, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

          Ah. I understand your meaning better now. Thanks.

      2. A4
        A4 April 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

        As a side note, this is a hilarious phrase:

        the objective standards of their day

        and demonstrates perfectly the fictitious nature of any proposed objective standards for art, including the type of objective standard required for a meritocracy.

        1. EG
          EG April 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm |

          Obviously.

    4. matlun
      matlun April 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

      You could see the ideal of meritocracy and “objectivity” to say that an object of art is best evaluated as if you have no knowledge about the artist. Ie whether it conforms to some specific standard is not really the issue, but that the evaluation is done in a color blind (and gender blind etc) manner.

      I do not think that quite works for art, though. Knowledge about the artist places the art object within a context that can be important for the interpretation and evaluation.

  2. rhian
    rhian April 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

    Although she is naked in both videos we soon forget she is “a woman” and start to see her instead as a human being.

    Wow. Is this guy listening to himself?

  3. matlun
    matlun April 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

    Perhaps the question Liddell ought to be asking is not “why an all-women art exhibition?”

    I am not sure I agree with this. Isn’t much of the point of this exhibition that is women only? This question lies at the core of much that is discussed in the OP, and I think it is an excellent question to discuss.

    And I see little evidence that he finds “women’s agency, experience, and inclusion in the art world [...] alarming”. Instead he seems pretty clueless and has not even recognized that this is currently lacking.

    1. A4
      A4 April 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

      Agreed. There’s no need to pretend that the exhibition was not specifically intended to be all woman artists. The very fact that this must be created intentionally and then “justified” in a way that all male exhibitions do not is one of the aspects I find to be very relevant.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L April 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

        this must be created intentionally and then “justified” in a way that all male exhibitions do not

        Perhaps I’m naive, but I would think that any museum that put on an exhibition of contemporary art by artists from any geographical area or nationality would be expected to justify a decision to exhibit the works of only male artists. (In a way that they wouldn’t if the exhibition covered a period in history or a geographical area for which no known works by female artists survive.)

        1. A4
          A4 April 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm |

          You could be right! I don’t truly know.

        2. Alara Rogers
          Alara Rogers April 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm |

          I think, though, it would be very easy to not have to justify putting on an all-male show from a time period where there *were* plenty of female artists but few of them achieved the fame of the male ones.

          I have read many science fiction anthologies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s that did not include works by Judith Merrill, C. L. Moore, or other women working in the time period, and did not bother to justify why not. An all-male anthology of *contemporary* sf gets serious pushback (though actually, it happened recently!), but an all-male anthology of sf from a time when there were few women, but definitely some, gets no notice at all. I suspect the same is true of art shows.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L April 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

          I haven’t read science fiction regularly in a very long time, but do I remember correctly that back in the 1960’s Judith Merrill was herself the editor of one of the major annual SF “best of” anthologies? Her name sounds extremely familiar to me!

        4. mamram
          mamram April 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

          I don’t know if anybody’s read How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ (speaking of sci fi) but she identifies this as one of the key ways that women’s art is erased. Curators and editors may include token contemporary works by women, but only the most standout of them will continue to be included beyond the lifetime of the artist, becuse everyone sort of buys the excuse that it’s just too much trouble, gosh darn it, to dig up women’s art from that horribly oppressive yesteryear, if any of it even existed in the first place.

          It’s like there’s this collective, perpetual lie that marginalization in the art world ended, once and for all, about 50 years prior to the present time (whenever that is). So of course it’s totally legitimate to exclude works by marginalized artists from before that time, since we can assume that none of it survived (no need to look for it!) and we can validate our assumption that things are all well presently by including token works. Time passes, those token artists are erased (since they are presumed to have never existed in the first place), and the entire process repeats itself. Marginalized voices are successfully suppressed, without anyone ever having to feel like a jerk for participating.

  4. Aaliyah
    Aaliyah April 1, 2013 at 10:31 pm |

    What we really want when we visit an exhibition is to encounter genius and talent, and that should be regardless of the number of Y-chromosomes involved.

    Y-chromosomes, eh? Here we go again. >_>

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  7. konkonsn
    konkonsn April 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |

    The artworks that work best are the ones that resist the grand feminist narrative, either by their subtlety, playful abstruseness or by appealing to aspects of humanity that simply transcend gender.

    Wow, it’s like arguing on my comic boards about gay characters in DC and Marvel comics. [sarcasm]Everyone’s fine with gay characters, they just shouldn’t, like, advertise they’re gay because sexuality has no impact on a person’s life outside their bedroom.[/sarcasm]

  8. Hannah
    Hannah April 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

    In addition to being super sexist, this guy also apparently doesn’t know anything about major conceptual developments in art in the past 100 years. We go to galleries to see “genius and talent”? Really? Hey buddy, we don’t live in the 1950s anymore…ever heard of this thing called postmodernism?

  9. roro80
    roro80 April 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

    I know next to nothing about art or the art world or gendered treatment of art, but I just wanted the author of this piece to know I thought it was incredibly well done, and that I learned a lot, even if I can’t really contribute to the discussion. This is why I *love* guest blogger season!

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