Disclaimer: I am by no means an authority on art theory. I’m just a guy who likes art, and these are my observations.
There’s two kinds of art; Creative art and expulsive art. Creative art is when you’re building something meant to be awe-inspiring. Be it the statue of David, the Sistine chapel, even the pyramids of Giza could be seen as art. These are creative; they’re creating something. The other kind, expulsive art, is just meant to regurgitate pent up emotions and frustrations. It’s a way of vomiting up the ugliness of the mind. That’s fine, I don’t see anything wrong with purging your system that way. The problem is when you start pretending that this emotional bulimia is some great act of creativity.
Sometimes the lack of creativity is so stark that these artists attempt to make up for it by being ‘controversial’.
“Oh, look at me, I painted something with my menstrual blood! Sure, the piece exhibits less artististic talent then a toddler with fingerpaints, but that’s not the point! The point is to get society to stop shaming womens’ periods!”
No, you’re just not skilled enough of an artist to get noticed without some cheap publicity stunt to supplement your work. Being great is hard, but being edgy is as easy as doing the most disgusting thing you can think of and spinning it as some sort of boundary-pushing social commentary. Why exactly do we need to change our perception of menstrual blood, anyway? Is nothing allowed to be disgusting anymore? If this is the kind of silly shit you do with your periods when given the freedom to do so, then it is clearly something that ought to be shamed, just to ensure these sorts of sickening displays of attention-whoring don’t happen in the future.
I’m reminded of the statue The Pieta, made by Michelangelo. This statue is, by all accounts, a masterpiece. It’s carved out of marble. Marble, for Christ’s sake, and yet Mary’s clothing looks like you could grab it and manipulate it as you would cloth. The piece also has meaning to it. It’s not just creativity for the same of creativity. It depicts Mary holding Jesus after his crucifixion. Mary is made out to be a young woman in this statue to show her incorruptible purity. Jesus is shown to be nearly lifeless, yet at peace.
This is creative. This inspires awe.
Then came a mad-man in the 1970’s, who took a hammer to the statue and destroyed it whilst shouting “I am Jesus Christ!”. Luckily, much of the pieces were recovered and the statue was able to be restored, but this person only destroyed this piece to make a name for himself. He didn’t have the skill to create a statue like this, but if he destroyed it, his name would be infamous, which is almost as good. This man’s name is known, but I won’t share it because, frankly, I don’t want this man’s name known. Everyone should make an effort to forget this man’s name, because it sets a bad precedence. We don’t want people to have reason to think that they can become famous for destroying masterpieces and frankly, contemporary artists are more like this man. They aren’t creating anything, they’re just destroying.
Granted, they aren’t destroying anything external, just their own internal demons, but the focus is the same. Ironically, this sort of “art” is having a more destructive effect on the discipline of art than any mad-man with a hammer could do. That man only managed to destroy one statue, and not beyond repair, but when was the last time a statue like this was even made? By embracing expulsive art, we’re pushing out creative art, and devaluing the field of art all together. It’s not about building something awe-inspiring anymore, but rather about shocking and disgusting people. That’s the real shame of it; They aren’t destroying masterpieces, but rather the potential for future masterpieces.
It’s as though contemporary artists are all in a competition to out-weird each other. The Turner Prize is a great example of this, as this award tends to attract artists whose entire aim is to create the faggiest piece ever produced. David Shrigley’s “Life Model”, for example, is a 7 foot tall animatronic boy that blinks and pisses into a bucket. Ironically, this piece may be the perfect expression of what contemporary art is. A gigantic child pissing itself.
Here’s my request to all aspiring artists; Rather than painting yourself with menstrual blood, or dropping a crucifix into a jar of your own piss, or taking high-res shots of assholes, Learn your fucking craft.