How to Speak Artz
My Senior year, at the Ohio collage, was a joke. It wasn’t a joke regarding the stellar Art & Language classes I had, mind you, it turned into a joke due to the lack of ambition and common sense within the majority of students attending said college. Of course, my pals and I never ran with the group of zombies who invaded our campus prior to graduation. We, the Cool Kids, were entirely devoted to our Art, Music, Cinema, and Drama classes (and the sport of chasing them with sides of Budweiser & Honey Brown).
One of my favourite idio-isms from Senior year took place in an American Literature class. Our instructor had asked each student to relay what he/she had done the Summer prior to our Fall classes and we all know how fascinating that game can be…Zzzzzz. The best answers always seemed to be belched from these frosted blonds, donning cashmere sweaters, ripped jeans, three-inch heels, and using their sunglasses as hand bands. One idio-ism chick, across the classroom, was no exception, so I gleefully took in her response of, ‘This Summer, I studied Art abroad, in Chicago. It was really interesting.’
Now, I think we can all safely agree that Chicago, Illinois is no more ‘abroad’ in the States than Topeka, Kansas. Clearly, a brilliant moment for Frosty/Cashmere/Ripped/Heeled/Hand Band Girl as well as a realization for me. This girl had used the word ‘interesting’ and then entirely halted any further explanation. It was as if the word was a get-out-of-jail-free card in the case of expanding on her artistic studies. It was absurd to think this girl had spent three months studying at all those delicious museums in Chicago and she retained the cop-out ‘interesting’.
Whelp, kiddies, I’m here to write you that if you’re at all interested in the Arts, cop-outs don’t fly and they don’t assist in artistic discussions or improvements. Therefore, I shall now dust off my diplomas, put my eight to ten years of schooling to use, and introduce a series of classes on ‘How to Speak Artz’. Come on in, fix yourself a drink, and have a gander…except those of you heading abroad, you’re excused to catch your flights to Chicago.
Our first lesson, surprisingly, is How to Cover Your Tracks Should You Lay Down the Word ‘Interesting’. This word used to be a wondrous preface for something honestly intelligent Art students had to conjure up. Unfortunately, ‘interesting’ met it’s demise when the explanation following was dropped because the speaker got lazy. If one is going to critique Art, it’s beneficial for both the artist and the speaker to have an actual discussion on style, form, colour use, blah, blah, blah. Stopping at ‘interesting’ makes the speaker sound like a tool and leaves little room for the artist to interpret any sort of understanding about the piece of Art in question. Therefore, should you absolutely feel the need to wrangle the word ‘interesting’ into your artistic critique, please follow it up with an explanation.
Enter our saving grace word of the day-trumpet blare-JUXTAPOSITION!!! Juxtaposition is one of my best arty words and the first time I heard it, I had to make it mine. Plus, it’s one of those onomatopoeic words that’s just completely fun to say. (It’s also fun to sing and I’ve been forever wishing They Might Be Giants would grant me a song about juxtaposition.) So, all together class, let’s get our juxtaposition on!
Technically put, juxtaposition equals a comparative balance of objects within a piece of Art (also not within a piece of Art, but we’re talkin’ Art today). Layman’s terms equal ‘That one thing that’s next to that other thing in that Art’. Interesting, eh?
Now, we shall incorporate a photograph example, non? Upon reviewing the attached image, we can showcase our new Art speaking skillz and comment that the figures of the woman and doggie, on the left, are juxtaposed by the rocks seen on the right (or vice versa). If you want to get kind of fancy you could toss out examples such as ‘The solidness of the rocks can also be juxtaposed by the implied movement of the woman and animal. Therefore, creating an overall feeling of the cycle of Nature within the image.’ (I’m just sayin’.)
Actually, juxtaposing objects, emotions, etc. within Art is not dissimilar to a game. Utilizing the photograph supplied here, we can juxtapose the water with the sand, the lightness of the sky against the dark grain of the earth, and the movement of the blowing sand, to the right of the image, with the movement of the windswept waves.
And there is our opening lesson for following up the word ‘interesting’ with something intelligible and helpful when commenting on Art. I implore you to go forth and impress your peers or pets with your thoughts on juxtaposing. Thank you all for your attendance and please tune in next week when we hazard the question, ‘What IS the Difference Between Naked, Necked, & Nude???!’