Marja-Leena Rathje
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Public ART?

Pandas? Sheep? Pigs? Cows? What is going on?

Over the past few weeks I kept reading about pandas in Washington, then ever so humble (no longer archived, sorry) had a post about Sheeptacular Pittsfield in Massachusetts.

Yesterday dangerous chunky referred to departing Seattle art critic Emily Hall's article The Road of Good Intentions is Paved with Painted Pigs, about the state of art in Seattle, including their Pigs on Parade. Hall has now moved on to New York where they have the cow parade!

What they all have in common is that they are public art projects. But are they art, I wondered.

To help us answer that question, here's an article by Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik, Getting Cute With Art, "As the District Trots Out 'Pandamania,' Is Something With Bite Too Much to Ask For?" Here are some excerpts:

"The panda project is described in all the city's PR as an 'exciting public art project'... to promote 'excellence in the arts' so that the general public can 'gain a deeper appreciation for the arts.' And the Pandamania 'call to artists' says that the 'selection committee is looking for artwork that is dynamic and invites innovation.' When an art critic hears words like that paired with painted pandas, it's like waving a red flag at a bull in a china gewgaw shop."

"These projects eat up precious resources... that could be better spent on any number of other serious, ambitious art programs."

"Washington has some of the most important museums in the world... and they attract art lovers from all over. For a city its size, it also has a surprisingly large and vibrant [art] community... who keep things humming on the local scene, and have been steadily pushing its standards up."

"Many of this city's leading art professionals.. are dismayed at the DCCAH's role in launching Pandamania. It feels like the commission is saying, "There's no need to face up to the challenges of real art; getting a belly laugh from tchotchkes will do just as well."

There's more so do read both the articles and let me know what you think - are they art or are they carnie?

Marja-Leena | 09/07/2004 | 1 comment
themes: Culture

1 comment

oh dear, well you probably know I say they are eating resources alive, thank you for hunting down the articles!