fledge capable of flying, from Middle English flegge, from Old English -flycge; akin to Old High German flucki capable of flying,
Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
intransitive verb, of a young bird : to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity

Friday, April 11, 2008

Best Things are Free Day 24

Jeder Mensch ein Künstler. Everyone an artist.

Joseph Beuys reminded us of this.

I just googled "Jeder Mensch ein Künstler" and some of the top links were essays revealing how ticked off the art world still is at this statement of more than thirty years ago. Surely, he didn't mean everyone.

A little trivia: In the Balinese language, there is no native word for "art", nor for "craftsman". They use the word "worker", the same cognomen for those in the rice fields or on the construction site.

I've never been, but I will go to Bali someday. Those who have been there tell me they don't believe that there's no word for "art" in Balinese, because they saw art everywhere. They show me the vacation photos and tell me I am mistaken: Sculptures, carved posts, prints, fabrics, paintings, the food is artfully stacked and ordered and arranged, even the daily utensils are adorned with representations depicting wonderment. 

That, which we identify as "art", the Balinese call "work". "Work", you know, that thing which must be done, something for survival, something to offer praise, something to pay for, something to teach the children, something to prioritize in their lives along with caring for children and running errands and doing laundry and visiting the doctor and fixing the bike.

And then I look over here. Oh, we understand art. We have museums unrivaled in the world containing the highest examples of art from all time and all cultures. Art is well maintained in grand facilities, highly guarded, surrounded by manicured lawns and parking structures. They are conveniently open to the public six days a week, between the hours of 10 and 5 during the summer tourist months. We have developed a language and understanding of art also unrivaled: (ordered abecedarian) Ashcan, Baroque, Constuctivism, Dadaist... High, Low, Commercial, Folk and, forget we not, hot

Maybe we understand art, but it is a thing separate, over there, a destination, an adornment, a frivolity, a political statement, a discretionary expense, a generous tax write-off, an angst-riddled self-indulgence, a piece to tie the colors of the rug to the couch, just really weird music, a once-a-year thing, like St. Patrick's Day. If you're not Irish, or if you don't know what or who a Fauvist is or was, well, whatever.

Maybe if it was just "work". Maybe if Joseph Beuys would only have been able to say, within his language, "Jeder Mensch ein Arbeiter," what would our world look like? How would we spend our days? What would be our work?

Let's get to work.

1 comment:

Miss K.P.-Ness said...

I've heard that there is a "balinese" saying:
WE don't believe in ART- we try to make everything as beautiful as possible.


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