art is

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a question that is always restating itself in the moment

centered in the person

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In this ongoing video work of speaking portraits begun in 2002, I put this impossible, but inevitable, matter before other artists, poets, musicians…: Tell me what art is [or what poetry is or what music is]. Result: a close-up of the normally private space of art definition. To date some 900 artists of all kinds–sculptors, painters, filmmakers, video artists, poets, composers, performance artists, and so on–have been recorded in eleven countries and twenty-four languages. This ongoing and constantly changing work in multiple series– [links]

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art is

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music is

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poetry is


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has been exhibited primarily as installations, but now online as single-channel works. This is just the beginning–and by it’s nature it will always just be beginning. This is the space of saying the impossible–a mission always in need of a poetics.

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FURTHER ART IS-RELATED WORKS ARE

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art is / East Africa

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myth is

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art is / Madrid-Complutense

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Intraview:

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As open-ended video art work in portraiture, it registers a mode of discourse in the simultaneously impossible (what can never be satisfactorily defined) and essential (what is implicitly at the core of committed life, and therefore always already being said). It is presented as a continuous series of speaking faces viewed up close, one at a time, with no overlaps or special effects, filmed “on site” under many circumstances, where production values are secondary to authenticity. One unadorned face at a time fills the image area, and the image frame is contained by the face itself, indifferent to any standard of aesthetic portraiture. This intimate view of speaking faces, each taking up all the space, shows how different it is for artists to say what art is than for others (critics, historians, philosophers, viewers). For a particular artist, art may not only be an object, a thing historically defined, but something close to the core of one’s life, perhaps even a singular event. Here we gain unique access to its nature in the person speaking. The framing effectively removes most social indicators (clothing, context, artist work, even hair style, etc.). While many famous artists are included, they are mixed with lesser known ones. Identity of the artist is indicated only at the end of each speaking portrait in order to keep the viewer’s attention focused on the act of saying what art is rather than on the identity of the speaker. The focus is ontological before it is historical. And the work is resolutely non-curatorial–selection of participants makes no critical or art-historical statement at all about the value or importance of the artist’s work. Perhaps viewers who watches an entire volume (usually around an hour long) will leave it feeling they know less about what art is than previously. In that case art may momentarily enjoy a certain freedom from over-determination by historical trends, dogmas, and market-driven considerations–a singularity in possibility that each artist is guardian of.

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In the galleries that follow, multiple volumes in each series will continue to appear on an ongoing basis. This will include the extended family of works in series such as art is/India, art is/Poland, etc., as well as  myth is and peace is [in process]. Individual portraits are edited to a couple of minutes or less in any given work, but I plan to also post extended individual portraits that may be somewhat longer.

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