the foot of somebody's bed
Went to the library earlier today to put up title tags for each art object on the walls. I have a hard time finding a word to call my works. I don't like to call them works. They're about play. It's like saying somebody works a banjo. It can be said in slang, like "Peco Watson can really work that banjer." But that means he puts the banjo to work, gets out of it everything it's got in it. He does it playing the banjo. A work of art makes sense in that I've heard it all my life. When art becomes work, the spirit goes out of it. So I don't like to use the word work about art. People on a stage playing pretend is called a play. Play is taken. I like the French, objets d'art, literally objects of art, or to Anglicize it, art objects. I feel like the French version says it even better than art object. But this aint France. We talk American here. I take art objects to be second best, which is good enough when the French is not an option.
bang a gong
Putting up the final touches to the exhibition, I read over a kind of artist's statement I'd written for the occasion. I taped it to a wall to be seen upon entering the room, titled PUNK ART. Two pages of fairly large print told what I meant by punk art, spelled out my guidelines; simplicity, use items I already have, fun. I did not want to explain, rather give a sense of what is behind the pieces to give the viewers insight to help them see each one the unit it is. I wanted to get it across without saying it that there is nothing to "understand," the things simply are what you see. If asked what one made of nine circles was about, I could only answer they were cornhole board holes. Around here, people know what that means. It's not what it sounds like, but the word is still funny. One of those things like the high school being the Trojans. It's so obviously funny it ceases to be funny immediately. A new kid at school makes a joke about Trojans and nobody laughs, like we're over it, dude, it was funny when we were six.
I know a lot of the people who will see the show and won't know most of them. The ones I don't know will be of the same culture as the ones I do know, so I wrote to everyone I know, in my mind, which would also cover everyone I don't know. I was attempting to assist the people of my world seeing for the first time something along the lines of Dadaism. In the room, putting up the tags, I was thinking how curious it is that Dada happened a hundred years ago this year. Upon realizing that, I felt good about what I was doing. I mean by Punk a centennial expression of the Dada spirit. The Dadaists in Zurich, Switzerland, draft-dodgers from WWI, threw open a door to a whole new understanding of art. The Twentieth Century renascence of anti-art, called the Modern, followed. The period was characterized by an evolving series of movements from Impressionism to Conceptualism.
The century progressed by dissecting art, itself, a step at a time, eliminating form, color, name, design. The progressive movements went out in Conceptualism, where the art was found in the human mind, conception. So everybody is an artist, like now with cellphone video cameras. Sly Stone in my head singing, "Everybody is a Sta-ar." In America, less people know about art than science. I cannot anticipate that anyone has an interest in anything to do with art except for occasional curiosity. That's cool, I have no problem with it. Yes, I do have a problem with it. Makes it kind of lonesome to have a passion about something of interest to so few others. It was my choice. I find it a fun exercise to translate what I'm doing to people who live in my world, Alleghany County, in a way they get it without being told. Some people hold the artist apart from other people. Not me. For myself, as artist, I want the people around me to know that I am just a Joe, like them, no big deal. I continue to play in my adult life making useless items for no reason but the fun in it, same reason somebody else picks a guitar.
all objects by tj worthington