Head, Heart, Sex || Good, Fast, Cheap
I was looking at a diagram of this principle recently:
when it reminded me of something a curator from Central Asia once said to me about how people throughout most of the rest of the world view art. She simplified the idea by noting that good art appeals to all three: the head, the heart, and one's sexuality. Her argument was that it's by embodying appeals to all three that an artwork overwhelms and awes us. It's by appealing to all three that an artwork reaches greatness.
Indeed, art that engages you on all three levels is easy to recognize when you see it (ever catch yourself wanting to lick an abstract painting?). And yet too often (not always, but too often) when looking at a good deal of the art about lately, I sense one of those three (head, heart, sex) is missing in the work. It's almost as if, due to constraints, artists are accepting that the production triangle premise applies to art as well. You can get it Smart and Powerful, but not Sexy. Or you can get it Sexy and Powerful, but not Smart.
Of course, what appeals to your head or heart or sex may do little for me, but I do wonder whether some merging of the two sets of constraints hasn't occurred, and that time itself isn't the crux of the issue here. Reading a passage in Kenny Schacther's impressions of FIAC on Artnews reinforced this suspicion. In particular was this observation and, more importantly, conclusion:
Also at Rech were examples from highflier Alex Israel’s ongoing series of cartoonish silhouette self-portraits. These began, a few years ago, as outlined blocks of color. Over the course of successive fairs, they have grown to incorporate a Hallmark Card-kitschy pier scene. For FIAC, Israel had introduced a director’s chair superimposed over his face, yet another reference to his home base of Los Angeles. Israel’s series has become, in effect, a form of art-fair art. Rather than going out on a limb and offering brand new bodies of work at fairs, artists are instead making incremental tweaks. Which is understandable—but I’m ready to be wowed anew. [emphasis mine]I know, I know, insisting we're ready to be wowed anew can also part of the problem: Here we are now, entertain us.
But in an ideal world, artists would feel empowered to say, it's not there yet...this is not yet the best I can do....it needs more of that third component. And maybe it's simply having the metaphor to identify and express that need that will help.