The Classification of Art

From Michel Foucault, Preface to The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. 1970. New York: Vintage, 1994. xv-xvi, xix-xx.

Like the classification on art, Foucault talks about how we as humans try to make sense of the world we live in, the constant instinctive compulsion to define what we experience.

Though the categorisations of animals in the “certain Chinese encyclopedia” are somewhat baffling and have an amusing quality, they are conclusions formulated by the authors own logic. As a 24 year old, Western English woman born in 1992 my perception is vastly different to that of the Chinese culture; to claim superiority over a culture whose explorations and understanding could even in part have shaped how I think about and see the world today would hold great naivety and prejudice. Like creating a language, we all learnt how to communicate yet our processes were profoundly different.

It’s not imaginative, nor is it poetic in its writing of experience and thought, but a forced determination to understand our reality with little expression of feeling. Though conflicting, for example “(f) fabulous” “(g) stray dogs”, it is stated as fact with little explanation as to why. Through our own experience and thought we become familiar with the information presented to us, there always had to be a beginning; by observing, analysing and building on our knowledge we have narrowed down our mutual understanding, rescuing ourselves from the drawback of constant analysation what we now know to be fact.

To my knowledge of 20th century categorisation of art my work would likely fall under multiple groups such as painting, sculpture, installation, photography, printmaking, poetry, music and fashion. However, through my experimental practice I have combined these works; do they now become something entirely new beyond our current understanding? Will a combination I create become the next category? Can an unspecialised artist become part of the generic conventions?

In my eyes art is a subject unlike any other. With my constant need for the world to explain itself when it comes to art the prospect of having to explain myself with complete knowingness, labelling my mind fit for the minds of others destroys all beauty. I like not to even fully understand my own work, to let the minds of others wonder. The beauty of art is that it breaks all the rules and keeps the possibility of creating a new language alive.

It is art because I, the artist, say it is. Whether it is recognised into one of these categories or whether by combining my interests I have created something absent from all current understanding but mine. By providing people with this new work, this new information, it becomes something whether it’s yet labelled or not. It is progress.

As of present I do not use any one medium or follow any specific manifesto during the production of my work, therefore I don’t feel I fall under a definitive movement. The movements I follow most closely and have greatest relevance to my work are Art Photography, Conceptual Art, Context Art, Dadaism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Feminist Art, Figurative Art, Folk Art, Modernism, Performance Art, Process Art, Stuckism and Surrealism.

Arguably many of the artists I draw inspiration from are associated with multiple movements and experiment in many different mediums, such as Caroline Broadband, Carrie Mae Weems, Cindy Sherman, Diana Arbus, Egon Schiele, Firelei Báez, Frida Kahlo, Guerrilla Girls, Hannah Wilke, Henri Matisse, Jenny Saville, Joseph Beuys, Lorna Simpson, Marcel Duchamp, Marina Abramovic, Sarah Lucas and Yoko Ono.

The works of these selected few hold my attention due to their rawness and honesty. Drawn to the way they see the world, my desire is for my audience to question what they see, to learn something they never knew and to grow from it as I have, all through the minds and works of artists such as these.

Sarah Lucas, Prière de Toucher, 2000

'Mirror Mirror', Carrie Mae Weems, 1987

Carrie Mae Weems, Mirror Mirror, 1987

Marina Abramovic, The Biography Remix directed by Michael Laub, 2005

Joseph Beuys, Felt Suit, 1970

Hannah Wilke, Starification Object Series, 1974 - 1982

Caroline Broadband, Grey Areas, 2007

Jenny Saville, Closed Contact (part of a series), 1995-96

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