Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Christine Hill- The Working Artist

Christine Hill in Volksboutique

Christine Hill is an artist that challenges the ideas of quotidian objects as well as the role of commerce and business in our everyday lives. Her most famous work, Volksboutique, is essentially a thrift shop where participants can buy used clothes to take home with them. One might ask, what's the point? By setting up these fully functioning "stores" within a gallery or other non-traditional places, Hill forces the people who come across them to consider the act of buying in a different way. She wants us to think about why we buy material objects so often. Why do we need them? What do they do for us? What is the difference between an item that we collect and an item that we need? Her work also has a strong relational element to it, as much of it would not exist without the interaction between artist and "customer" or participant. To me she is one of the most relational artists we talked about in class because her work is so dependent on people. It is as if the medium itself is people, where as the other artists still utilize more traditional, tangible mediums such as photography.

Hill also questions the role of artist in commerce. Many of her works, such as Tourguide? revolve around the direct transaction of money between artist and participant (in Tourguide?'s case, $12, to be exact). Hill does indeed keep this money, and she uses it to make a living, along with grants she receives to continue making her art. By doing this, Hill changes the role of making money from something that she needs to do to survive to something that is art. I think she is actually a very brilliant artist, even though I think her work is lacking in emotion. Hill, who wanted to be a lawyer when she was growing up, proves that you don't need a business degree on top of your art degree to keep from starving in the "real world."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nick Olson Talk

Nick Olson's talk showed one possibility of what you can do with your life after Lawrence. He showed that it's possible to live that crazy dream Christopher McCandless or Thoreau so desperately wanted to live. And you can document it. And show it to people. You can still go on spiritual pilgrimages and build log cabins in the woods. Even though you have a college degree.

Not so sure about this guy anymore

I thought the talk was interesting but probably not in the right way. As someone who is also interested in nature, the environment and sustainable living, I really do respect what Nick is trying to do. I am just afraid for the future of environmental art if all we continue to do is emulate the ideas of the past. The past is irrelevant to the way that the environment is right now. The ideas of Thoreau don't really stand up anymore. Sure, it's great to get in touch with yourself by living simply. I totally agree. But this isn't an environmental statement anymore. It's not about yourself. It's about the bigger picture. It's about the way in which humans are destroying nature. Is building a log cabin really the most sustainable thing you can do? What does it prove? Where is that going to take us?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I have the answer to an art that speaks for the protection of the environment. I just think it has to be pushed farther. We can't just look to the past and be nostalgic for what we've lost. We have to be visionaries of the future if we have any hope of restoring the balance of nature.