"Because it is a feeling-sense to you, and in that sense, you could say that I am a spiritualist in essence. I have always been involved in the idea that work comes from the spirit and the artist is a translator. I don't know. Whatever you make of it. Life … I try to live my life in what I consider to be the natural way, to eat the right food, which is mostly vegetables, and think the right thoughts, and keep working on the dreams that I have. The outside world and the reaction to that is just something you deal with every day. But what's inside is the more important world for me, because that's where everything happens. Not what you say and do, so much as what you think, that reality" - Adger Cowans by Carrie Mae Weems, Bomb Magazine, July 30, 2014
As artists, we often are caught in the middle of the industry. If our art comes from within, then who are we to put a value on our work? How much are you willing to pay for a piece of me? Is it my name? Or work?
How successful is the work? Can we even deem it as art? Where do we draw the line of fine art and craft, outsider art and academic? What is this line? Walk the line... One line for all? The line does not always stay straight, sometimes it curves or zig zags into another line or crosses over boundaries and into the unknown. The development of line is interesting to me as an artist, metaphorically speaking of course. When we see Marina Abramovic in Artist is Present, we realize the line between the gaze of the participants. Then realize our participation as part of the piece as well, drawing lines to each participant, as seen in the diagram of this post. We can even go further into the expanded gaze to each other as the viewers surround Marina and the guest. The line ends up crossing the original blueprint of gazing interaction branching into an expanded field of gazes.
Artists often find themselves in a state of diaspora. Separated from one another in their own artist world, even though they are inviting the viewer's participation. If we invite the viewer's participation, rather than subject them to their own demise, we will succeed in the contemporary sense. I remember meeting with artist Alfredo Jaar in my undergrad and my mindset changed on how we, as artists, are able to connect with others in a positive way by shedding light onto worldly issues. In Rwanda Project, Jaar displayed thousands of slides of eyes from the people of Rwanda. The sensitivity to the personal is highlighted by subjecting the viewer to the intimacy of the individual. The scale of the slides made viewers understand the scale of the issue. Are we, as humans, truly that small or insignificant to not notice? Jaar makes the viewer participate. The gaze of the viewer is captured within the tiny frame of the slide.
Marina continues the enlightenment of human connection within her performance in Artist is Present, her retrospective, where she sat for 6 days a week, 7 hours a day, 700 hours total at MOMA. Marina was opening her eyes for each individual and letting them inside. In The Emancipated Spectator by Jacques Ranciere, he explains the evolution of viewer as participator. Marina's ability to take this evolution even further as humanism activated within the gallery pushes the boundaries once again as institutional critique.