Art as discourse? Or – A walk through the desert…

The last month Stockholm has seen two controversial expressions of art – first the student who faked an attempt to suicide, and now the revelation that a newly examined M.A. vandalised a subway car as part of his final project, a 120 second film titled “Territorial Pissing”.

I think both of these cases took things too far, and the school – Konstfack (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) – have expressed regret in the second case and initiated an internal investigation in the first. Both cases are linked to the Department for Fine Arts.

Taken one by one each case have elicited strong reactions from everyday people. Together… well, let’s just say that more than one want the design school closed. One person said “where art goes in sanity walks out” (translated from Swedish, any errors are mine).

I cannot help but reflect that maybe this is were the fine arts stands today – outside society, without any relevancy to anyone but the personally involved, and desperate for attention it’s practitioners screams at the top of their lungs, to get a reaction.

But I don’t think the art and design schools should be closed. On the contrary I think they are needed, and that the people screaming murder have no idea what the schools are about – Konstfack examines, among others, industrial designers. But maybe the person in question don’t feel they need microwave ovens possible to use without a hefty manual?

What I think is needed is a discussion about what fine arts is supposed to be – what need they fill in our society, and what they could be to us. Because at the moment it is clear that the Fine Arts are not only alienated from the main body of people but also from the movers and shakers. And when no one feels an ownership except the few with an academic interest, the genre fails.

Witness the recent debacles, if you don’t believe me.

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