If Art is a conversation, who’s to blame when I don’t understand?

4 thoughts on “If Art is a conversation, who’s to blame when I don’t understand?”

  1. That’s really helpful to think about – I often think I have no idea so it’s helpful to have questions to think about rather than just assuming art is dumb!

  2. I think your questions – ‘are you bothered about the artist?’ especially – could be pretty useful. I still have difficulties with the simplicity of the idea that art is a conversation though…

    I am involved in making art which your average person might call pretentious or nonsense or something (e.g with Archipelago collective: http://www.cornerhouse.org/art/info.aspx?ID=425&page=0). It’s not easy; tonight I was having a bit of a debate with one of the collective because I felt we were planning on giving ‘the viewer’ too little information about ourselves..

    My knowledge of art theory is pretty poor but I think that this issue relates to the idea of art’s autonomy…

  3. Interesting. My German prayer partner and I recently had a discussion about cultural differences in conversational responsibility. British culture places more responsibility on the hearer to listen well (hence to understand sarcasm, etc.); German culture places the weight of responsibility on the speaker to be clear. Of course, we all know both are necessary, but the weight of expectation is different culturally – and when the expectation is shared, then conversation should work. When there’s a mix of cultures, there can be difficulties and frustrations, feelings of people being dishonest or rude. How do these cultural expectations affect the ‘conversation’ with art?

    1. That’s a really interesting point. Maybe some of the difficulty comes because of different expectations on the part of the artist and the viewer? So the artist expects the viewer to put in the effort, but the viewer wants the artist to make it more obvious. Having said that, I guess in any cross-cultural conversation, the receiver has to put some effort into trying to understand the language being used for communication to have any chance of happening.

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