I love this headline, given that past Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili actually did just put Elephant shit on canvas. I relish the weird, guilty satisfaction that comes from calling art “shit.” It’s a weird artistic act in itself, because it seems to me, it violates the tender, exploratory open-mindedness that made my mother say my ceramics were works of genius (FYI, if you see an anonymous comment that reads, “I’m sorry, but your ceramics were beautiful!” You know who to call.)
That’s not to say I don’t think there’s validity in the “What is Art” debate. I better think there is, because if I don’t, I have a long, abrasive road of Tolstoy ahead of me. But today in class we were discussing how Kant thinks that beauty is symbol of a morality, or rather that art can teach us how to be moral. I argued that Kant’s saying the way that beauty ignites our capacity to be moral is by engaging us in the free play of imagination, and teaching us to engage our powers of reason; to honor our power of reason; to absorb and exalt in the intricate powers that enable us to judge maturely.
Then, we want to use our reason to make moral choices all the time! Yes! The next time a murderer is at our door and we have to choose between the abominable act of lying and the foppish, self-interested act of saving a life, we’ll know what to do. (Ok. Lame Kant joke. I’ve lost all my readers…)
ANYWAY. Certainly, in this quest to connect our faculties of aesthetic judgment and our inclination for moral rectitude, calling art “shit” is not going to buy us much leverage. That does not change the fact that in the case of the Turner Prize, it is damn funny. You can’t even believe how hilarious I am. (Dissenters: feel free to criticize my humor, or my ceramics, in the comment box below.)
It’s also funny that underlying theme of my article today is: What’s making it all so boring, the art, or the art critics? Yes! Lots of exciting nuggets of Big Questions in Art are between the lines.
The real story:
“Some art critics believe this year’s Turner Prize for modern art marks an all-time low, but outrage over the artworks may be part of the package.”
Read the full article This Year’s Turner Prize: Worst Ever or More of the Same? On The Site.