Take Care...

Hello, my name is Randall Szott. I am the founder of Dilettante Ventures which was a collective comprised of other collectives - LeisureArts, placekraft, and Studiolo54. All of these collectives had blogs that served as repositories of some activities, but did not serve as complete documentation of their activities. All of the collectives were comprised by myself only with the exception of Studiolo54 which had one other member. Maybe now some of you can understand why most everything written on this blog employed the collective "we" when offering up commentary.

LeisureArts helped me clarify many of my thoughts concerning how art and other forms of creative engagement with the world could lead to "the good life." My life, for better or worse, has been geared towards thinking about and attempting to embody, a vision of said good life. This blog provided a useful articulation of the theoretical/conceptual underpinnings of this exploration.

It is now time to turn my attention toward living and away from discursive arguments. I am grateful to all those who have taken the time to read and even take seriously the things I've written for LeisureArts. Much of the material here is obscure and it is often contrarian, but it is sincere. It is probably obvious that the dramas, protocols, and restrictions of the art world (the professional market/academic one) are of little use to me. Art has never been a vocation for me and probably never will be. In a funny way, I take it much too seriously. To paraphrase Luc Ferry in writing about the Greek view of philosophy - I see it as a mode of life rather than mere discourse. I'll be around, but Dilettante Ventures, and thus, LeisureArts are no more. I've got too much living to do.

P.S. I mentioned before a new curatorial venture outside Chicago called "he said - she said" and my final post here will be an announcement of the launch of its web site you can bookmark it now or wait for the final post.

he said-she said is an exhibition and event series held in the home of Pamela Fraser and Randall Szott. They will take turns presenting what amounts to an ongoing conversation about art and culture - Ms. Fraser presenting art and artists, and Mr. Szott sharing the activities of people who work in other contexts. Together they hope to offer up a fun and thoughtful take on current ideas in art and life.

The end?

We are currently re-evaluating the entire Dilettante Ventures empire. In fact, there might not even be an empire in the near future.

"The Artist’s Fall Collection" - Takashi Murakami - Art and Commerce [From the unpublished archive]

"The Artist’s Fall Collection" in today's New York Times is filled with so many head scratchers (more so than the usual NYT fawning over the relations between art, fashion, and celebrity) that the thought of tackling them all is daunting. The article discusses Takashi Murakami's show at LA MOCA. We'll just hit the few things that really jumped out and leave the rest of the inanity for others to dissect.

The show, with its $960 handbags and $695 agendas for sale, created a flap even before its opening on Oct. 29. Art-world purists charge that it has eroded the line between culture and commerce. “It has turned the museum into a sort of upscale Macy’s,” the art critic Dave Hickey chided in an interview.

You have to wonder about Hickey's point of reference for luxury shopping. Macy's? The real zinger here is that unnamed "purists" actually believe there is some "line between culture and commerce." Maybe these are the same people that think the earth is flat?

Mr. Schimmel further maintained that the boutique is integral to the artist’s message. “One of the most radical aspects of Murakami’s work is his willingness both to embrace and exploit the idea of his brand, to mingle his identity with a corporate identity and play with that,” he said. “He realized from the beginning that if you don’t address the commercial aspect of the work, it’s somehow like the elephant in the room.

Such arguments have done their part to defuse potential controversy. The museum, said Gail Andrews, director of the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama and president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, “has made the case that luxury goods are a part of Murakami’s artistic expression. They are doing what contemporary museums do, pushing the boundaries.”

Apparently Paul Schimmel is now admitting that most art museum exhibitions have an "elephant in the room?" There's no plausible way he could think that the specter of financial value, the "elephant," is only germane to Murakami. Or could he? And pushing the boundaries? Art IS a luxury good...at least most of it that the NY Times bothers to write about and that museums exhibit. How could an entire article be predicated on some alleged separation? Maybe it hinges on the explicit claims of each domain?

“If you look at the world of art people interested in contemporary art, they are usually interested in luxury,” said Yves Carcelle, the president of Louis Vuitton. “The bridge between the two worlds is more and more obvious.” Mr. Carcelle underscored the point by noting that 60 of the MOCA Murakami bags were sold in the show’s first week alone.

Again we see this notion of a "bridge" between luxury and art. Isn't (market) art even more of a luxury good than a handbag which has a utilitarian dimension?

Such products, a kind of art couture, appeal primarily to a rising class of affluent culture chasers, “people who are very focused on having those hip luxury signifiers,” in the words of Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys New York. Owning such products “signifies informed consumption,” Mr. Doonan said. “They say: ‘I’m not just a shopper. I’m a super groovy shopper.’”

"Hip luxury signifiers" - could there be a better descriptor of mainstream market art? I'm not just a collector, I'm a super groovy collector!

[Yeah, yeah. This post is hyperbolic. A cooling off period might have served it better, but damn that article was amazing!]

LeisureArts = Art Blog? - So says one expert.

Despite having taken a few swipes at Tyler Green and having a strongly divergent view of the professional art world, this blog (art or otherwise) has been included in his regional art blog links for Chicago. This is either an indication of the incredibly poor quality of Chicago art blogs, or it is another reason to respect Green's thick skin and the integrity of his convictions (of course nothing says it can't be both). Thanks MAN!

The Writers Guild of America strike has affected us more than we expected, but we should be back on track soon. A leisure enigma to tide you over:

Recent Reads/Micro-Reviews - Experience, Leisure, and the Art of Living - Lucas Ihlein, John Neulinger, John Lachs, and Larry Hickman

Reading Dewey: Interpretations for a Postmodern Generation ed. Larry Hickman - Excellent anthology of writings on John Dewey. Of particular interest to us were: "The Art of Life: Dewey's Aesthetics" by Thomas M. Alexander (micro-review of his book devoted to this topic) in which he outlines Dewey's argument for art as enriched experience and how the aesthetic ties into the core issues of Dewey's philosophy. "Dewey's Ethics: Morality as Experience" by Gregory E. Pappas in which he explicates the vision of a morality intertwined with the aesthetic and how both are rooted in experience rather than abstraction or as he puts it "...the moral life that is lived in the context of a situation, by means of the resources found within the situation, and for the situation." And lastly "John Dewey's Philosophy as Education" by James W. Garrison which Larry Hickman summarizes thusly, "Garrison argues that the flowering and fruit of philosophy as education is a kind of moral poetics, in which lifelong learning converts what would otherwise be disconnected and discordant into experience that is refined and harmonious." Excellent introductory text to Dewey and good supplement for those already familiar with portions of his oeuvre.

"Bilateral Blogging" by Lucas Ihlein - The essay appears in The International Journal of Arts in Society Vol. 1 Number 7. We like to imagine Ihlein as a kindred spirit. If nothing else we share many of the same interests and seem to draw on many of the same sources. Links to his various activities can be found here: bilateral. In the essay, Ihlein considers social art practices in the context of blogging and specifically contextualizes this with his own project Bilateral Kellerberrin. The official keywords for the essay are: blogging, practice-led research, participation, conversation, interactivity, relational aesthetics. We throw those out so you get a sense of the timeliness of the essay and its direct correlation to many of the issues explored at LeisureArts. In describing micro-utopian projects Ihlein notes the "...desire to make pragmatic models of living in the here-and-now (wherever one may be) rather than constantly deferring to some unattainable future." This dovetails nicely with the Pappas essay concerning Dewey's morality/ experience mentioned in the review above. Ihlein does a good job considering critiques of the micro-utopian impulse, including the now de riguer Claire Bishop. He grants some legitimacy to the "exclusionary" line of criticism before offering a trenchant alternative line of analysis - "When artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija create high-profile aestheticised versions of these ordinary spaces of resistance inside art galleries, they risk perpetuating the myth that the right and proper place for non-commodified exchange (and aesthetic experience), is a special architectural space, rather than recognizing that everyday life itself is riddled with such opportunities." This statement is crucial in understanding how we might develop the sort of critical-democratic aesthetic milieu that John Dewey (whom Iheiln draws from extensively) envisioned, and which Iheiln argues blogging enables, "...the blog as a tool of documentation and interaction is a useful alternative to gallery-based situations, in accommodating the ongoing rhythms of ordinary lived experience." Our only concern is that far too often artists that literally work outside the gallery still work within it conceptually due to internalizing the ideological and discursive constructs of the professional art system. They bracket off portions of their lives and list them as "projects" or "works" on their resumes, they "document" their explorations into so-called conviviality, etc. Of course, doing this is not inherently a problem, but doing so without understanding, and making explicit, the complications and contradictions of doing so, is.

To Leisure: An Introduction by John Neulinger - A nice overview of the various definitions and conceptualizations of leisure. Neulinger prefers using to leisure rather than leisure "...as leisure is not a thing one has (as one might 'have' free time), but an experience, a process, an ongoing state of mind." His emphasis on the experiential dimension of leisure is a welcome move to get outside of the more conventional idea of static leisure. The book, like many on leisure, suffers from textbook syndrome and a faith in a technocratic solution to the equitable distribution of leisure potential outside of political struggle and other forms of sociality, but there is plenty of worthwhile material here.

In Love with Life: Reflections on the Joy of Living and Why We Hate to Die by John Lachs - Speaking of technocratic faith, this book is tough slogging for anyone who might think that society might need to be re-configured along more humanely centered lines than it is currently. Lachs, through the book, aims at "...making a good life better," but too often seems to be an apologist for the status quo and doesn't concern himself enough with making bad lives better.

Update on current activities

We've started diagrammatic to replace the web presence of the now defunct Studiolo54 [R.I.P.].

To replace the off-line portion of Studiolo54We'll be starting he said...she said... - an irregularly ongoing collaborative curatorial-ish project in Oak Park early next year. A website is currently in the works with all of the details.

And the founder of LeisureArts will be speaking at Alogon Gallery as part of Other Options on November 4th. Lord help us all.

Experience Economy - Art as Experience - Relational Aesthetics

Perhaps it's obvious that one of the central texts guiding LeisureArts is John Dewey's Art as Experience. Then again, it might not be considering how marginal the text is in contemporary art discourse. The book was published in 1934 and yet we can still have legions of artists and critics discussing Nicholas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics published some sixty years later as if it raised something new. In some sense, admittedly, it did, but the current amnesia about Dewey's rich theoretical precursor diminishes its significance. Judith Rodenbeck does an excellent job exposing the same amnesia with regard to the history of art practices that precede those Bourriaud dubs as "relational" in her lecture "The Open Work: Participatory Art Since Silence."

Art as Experience does a good deal to complicate the simplistic division between object based work and experience based work by noting the experiential dimension of all art. From the opening paragraphs [emphases ours]:

By one of the ironic perversities that often attend the course of affairs, the existence of the works of art upon which formation of an esthetic theory depends has become an obstruction to theory about them. For one reason, these works are products that exist externally and physically. In common conception, the work of art is often identified with the building, book, painting, or statue in its existence apart from human experience. Since the actual work of art is what the product does with and in experience, the result is not favorable to understanding...

When artistic objects are separated from both conditions of origin and operation in experience, a wall is built around them that renders almost opaque their general significance, with which esthetic theory deals. Art is remitted to a separate realm, where it is cut off from that association with the materials and aims of every other form of human effort, undergoing, and achievement. A primary task is thus imposed upon one who undertakes to write upon the philosophy of the fine arts. This task is to restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doings, and sufferings that are universally recognized to constitute experience.

Likewise much of the discussion of the experience economy (Pine and Gilmore) and its various critics would be well served by reading Dewey. While we're at it, the current champions of Jacques Rancière would benefit from coming to terms with Dewey as his work on the relationship of aesthetics to ethics precedes Rancière by about a half century. Of course Dewey, will never have the theoretical sex appeal of the "continental" intellectual set. He, like the other American pragmatists, and their Transcendentalist antecedents just don't seem to captivate the art intelligentsia the way the French seem to even though they worked out anti-foundationalist, and radically contextualized epistemologies many decades beforehand. Don't get us wrong - Bodies without Organs, Différance, and the litany of other poetic-theoretic tools invented by continental theorists and their progeny are important and useful, but there is much to be done with the tools of the American philosophical tradition in art circles as well.

Social Practice - Revelry and Risk - Art/Life

In April of this year, on Friday the thirteenth, the founder of LeisureArts initiated a field trip to Reno, NV (by way of Carson City and Virginia City) for some students in the Social Practices program at CCA. We visited, among other things, a gold nugget collection, the Donner Party Museum, happy hour at the Peppermill Casino and subsequent buffet, a replica silver mine, the Bucket of Blood Saloon, the Red Light Museum housed in the bottom of a Chinese restaurant, the Wagon Wheel diner, and the craps tables at Circus Circus. The following piece of writing was a reflection on the experience and is published in Revelry and Risk: approaches to social practice or something like that.

Gambling in Reno, Some Notes on a Social Practices “Field Trip”

“After the conference papers are over, we go slumming in their bars.”

Like many things in my life, this essay begins somewhat obliquely. The above quote is from Richard Shusterman's Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art. He's writing about what comes to count as legitimate experience in the professional world of philosophy and literary theory. For an experience to count in these domains it has to take an institutionally recognizable form as a conference, a paper, or a book. This same question of legitimacy plagues the professional art world - roughly analogous substitutions might be exhibitions, works, and projects. Shusterman writes that we are impoverished by academic practices “...[which fail] to recognize the value of non-professional responses which seek neither interpretive truth nor publishable novelty but simply enriched experience, experience which may perhaps be communicated in writing but does not need to be to count as legitimate and meaningful.” When one engages in such non-professional practices, when one goes “slumming” in Reno, you run the risk of academic oblivion.

How does “enriched experience” find articulation? Does this essay enhance or undermine the experience of our field trip? How do you provide enough of a structure for something to become legible without allowing the structure to be the only thing that's experienced? Perhaps these considerations are central to social practices, or maybe this is merely my conceit. My interest has always led me to teeter as far on the edge of evanescence as possible – allowing, for example, the trip to Reno to live or die in the memories of my fellow travelers rather than making a video, or taking photos, or creating a Jeremy Deller like travel guide.

This essay may undermine this anti-ambition, but it can at least specify that no guide book is possible for the trip. It was a singularity comprised of a specific set of people at a specific moment in time. This is not to say that fruitful discussion/interpretation cannot take place, but if the trip was “successful,” discussion, documentation, and exhibition, would never adequately capture its complexity. This is dangerous territory. I'm sounding awfully “arty.”

Perhaps there's little else you need to know about the trip other than the fact that it was bookended by free appetizers when we arrived in Reno, and sage cheddar cheese on crackers on our way home in the white mini-van. Perhaps that is all you can know unless you were there. It was never a “project,” but it was something more than spontaneous revelry, although that happened too. Above all, it was a gamble.

I've gambled with others in Reno before, in more and less serious ways. Neil Young has indirectly asked – Tell Me Why Only Love Breaks Your Heart? To this I can only offer the corniest of replies – love is a gamble, and that gamble, if it is to have any meaning at all, must have failure as one of its real possibilities. Without the risk of losing everything, gambling/love is just another game, one hardly worth playing. Maybe my deepest ambition for social practices and the art/life tension it embodies for me, is that it too is a game worth playing, something more than a profession, something more than a series of projects, a game with something tragic at stake – something that could break your heart...

The eye of the storm...

The LeisureArts Mobile Command Center is currently anchored off the coast of Galveston, TX and hoping to ride out Humberto gracefully.






the new "is the new"

We published "is the new" some time ago and interest in it flares up every so often. Roo Renyolds has done a new "is the new," but he did it using automated techniques. We did the whole damn thing manually. Nice to see this thing live on.

Our old school style diagram:

And the gateway to the new "is the new" :

More recent reads - Meeker - Stebbins - Rothenberg/Fine

The LeisureArts research wing has been on a tear lately. We've finished two books and last night read an interesting article. Here are the quick takes:

After Work: The Search for the Optimal Leisure Lifestyle - Robert Stebbins
We've written about Stebbins before: Robert Stebbins - Amateur - Greg Sholette This book describes what "serious leisure" is, and provides resources for pursuing it. We will devote a whole post to this material in a couple of weeks as it is of central importance to our practice.

The Comedy of Survival: Literary Ecology and a Play Ethic - Joseph W. Meeker
Billed as "the founding work in the field of literary ecology," this book's most useful material for LeisureArts involves Meeker's theorization of comedy as a way of thinking, as a "strategy for living." It dovetails nicely with much of our recent reading of pragmatism as he notes that comedy is a mode "...of acting according to the needs of the context and the tenor of the time." In all honesty, the book is mostly interesting for its historical status rather than its philosophical strength.

"Art Worlds and Their Ethnographers" - Julia Rothenberg and Gary Fine
A solid essay arguing that ethnographers of art need to be cognizant of the specificities of art world social systems. The essay provides a tidy summary of the central issues for the sociology of art. One big problem in our estimation is the incredibly limited scope of the definition of "artworlds." The authors produce, perhaps predictably, a hierarchical overview of various artworlds and presume that the same interests are driving all participants. As they state, "Artworlds are tournaments with winners an losers." [speaking of tournaments, see here and here] This implies that all of the artists in lower tiers strive to enter the so-called higher tiers. Their artworld as "reputational tournaments" conceptualization clearly excludes sunday painters, hobbyists and other types of artists who have no interest in selling their work or even exhibiting it [the above linked Sholette post deals with this "dark matter" as does this post: Gregory Sholette - Creative Dark Matter - Carlos Basualdo] . A major flaw, but just about everyone who writes about art suffers from the same myopia...

Stephen Wright - Spy art - Escape artists

The following excerpts are from Stephen Wright's essay "Spy art: infiltrating the real" in Afterimage Sept-Dec, 2006. For those very few regular readers of this blog, the connections to our writing/thinking should be obvious. For those who have somehow stumbled here, the quick and dirty parallel is to be found in this mention of the figure of the escape artist: Escape Artistry - Richard Roth - LeisureArts. The much longer parallel can be seen here: Allan Kaprow - Refusal/Un-Artist - Keith Tilford.

"I am referring to an art without artwork, without authorship (not signed by an artist) and above all without a spectator or audience. It is visible, public, and indeed, it is seen--but not as art. In this way, it cannot be placed between invisible parentheses--to be written off as "just art," that is, as a mere symbolic transgression, the likes of which we have seen so often, whose principal effect is to promote the artist's position within the reputational economy."

"It is on this basis that I feel art needs to avoid artworld framing devices. I also sense that many artists today feel that intuition, although many shy away from taking the necessary steps toward a genuine stealth art practice--one that requires forsaking artwork, authorship, and spectatorship."

"Stealth art is a clandestine border crosser, like the secret agent. So why then does art so adamantly refuse to forsake its artistic visibility--even though doing so would have the explicit advantage of giving it more use value and even make it better art (providing adequacy between form and content)? I suspect it is because the reliable signature (attesting to the artist's occupational identity), and the artworld recognition it provides, is the ultimate art commodity still valued by enterprise culture."

"There are more stealth practices going on than the artworld ever acknowledges, or even knows about. This is for the self-evident reason that they are, by definition and by design, hard to see let alone recognize, but also because they subvert mainstream artworld values, for there is nothing to exhibit and thus, nothing to sell. Stealth practices tend to be written off as non-art, if not quite nonexistent. The art-critical challenge is to draw attention to them in an appropriately elusive way, both for their intrinsic worth and because they obey a certain art-historical logic. Stealth and spy art practices have become a viable way of pursuing art at a historical moment when art has withdrawn from the world--though that may appear grossly counterintuitive to anyone whose only sources are the official organs of the artworld like Flash Art or Art Forum. In the face of the omnipresence of the cultural and consciousness industries, art has withdrawn from the world and has hidden before our very eyes--the only place it is safe from artworld recuperation, the only place left where the artworld is not looking for it."

Art world snobbery at its finest

Item one in Tyler Green's recent post Five things I think I think deserves attention for both its brutal honesty and sadly elitist attitude:

"1.) If I hear one more museum podcast feature visitors to the museum and what they think of ______, I'm going to delete them from my feeds. Museums all employ armies of people who do interesting things: conservation, research, building, installing, curating, and so on. Podcasting was made for telling us what cool things those people are up to. Instead we too oft get Joe Schmoe saying that the comb in a Magritte looks soooo reallllll."

How dare a museum provide a venue for "Joe Schmoe" to engage in art dialog! Apparently, museum patrons are a necessary evil that art professionals must merely tolerate in the course of their "interesting" lives. Museums, or at least those with podcast feeds that Green subscribes to, need to keep the great unwashed masses (with such lowbrow tastes that they might actually experience a sense of wonder at trompe-l'œil) from wasting the time of those with more sophisticated art perspectives - the ones who are up to "cool things." You've got to admire his unadulterated disdain for the plebs - Roger Kimball would be proud.

Recent Reads/Micro-Reviews

We wanted to mention a few books we read in the past month or so. These micro-reviews may be useless, but for what it's worth:

John Dewey and the Lessons of Art by Philip W. Jackson - Decent enough, but a little on the art education side of things for our taste.

Prescribing the Life of the Mind by Charles W. Anderson - A political philosopher thinking through the purpose of liberal education, and along with it, the university. The cultivation of what he calls "practical reason" is ultimately the aim for both. Practical reason is largely a re-working of pragmatism - "...thinking need not be shown to be irrefutably true to be considered rational. It just has to be shown to be better than the evident alternatives in pursuing some particular human purpose."

Philosophy Americana: Making Philosophy at Home in American Culture by Douglas R. Anderson - An outstanding book, not only for its content (which is engaging mind you), but especially for its approach. Anderson broadens the range of philosophy without dumbing it down. He writes about Dewey and James, but also Tammy Wynette and Hank Williams. It's good stuff, especially the material about Thomas Davidson's education/learning as "world building."

John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience & Nature: The Horizons of Feeling by Thomas M. Alexander - A solid philosophical book. To be honest, it was exactly the sort of technical, tightly argued and subtle book that we usually avoid. Highly academic (in both the laudatory and pejorative sense), but if you enjoy that sort of thing read it all the way through. If not, skip to the last chapter "The Art of Experience" to see why Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics is much ado about nothing in our opinion and about 60 years late.

Karaoke Nights: An Ethnographic Rhapsody by Rob Drew - Henry Jenkins characterized this book as a rare "academic page turner." We couldn't agree more. If you hate karaoke or look down on it, read the book to see if you might be persuaded to reconsider. If you love karaoke, read the book to see a smart ethnographic analysis of the culture of U.S. karaoke.

Shusterman - The "linguistic turn" - Guattari

This post (Guattari on Postmodernism) from Larval Subjects, which we discovered via Metastable Equilibrium, had us looking back through Richard Shusterman's Pragmatist Aesthetics to find this quote which seems to resonate nicely with Guattari's own suspicions regarding the linguistic turn in theory/philosophy:

...[the linguistic turn] has come to seem more like a sophistic paradox about talking without language than a deep truth about human experience and the world. Surely, once we have to talk about something, even merely to affirm or deny its existence, we must bring it into the game of language, give it a linguistic visa or some conceptual-textual identity, even if the visa be one of alien or inferior linguistic status like "inexpressible tingle" or "non-discursive image." But this only means that we can never talk (or explicitly think) about things existing without their being somehow linguistically mediated; it does not mean that we can never experience them non-linguistically or that they cannot exist for us meaningfully but not in language.
We philosophers fail to see this because, disembodied talking-heads that we are, the only form of experience we recognize and legitimate is linguistic: thinking, talking, writing. But neither we nor the language which admittedly helps shape us could survive without the unarticulated background of prereflective, non-linguistic experience and understanding. Hermeneutic universalism thus fails in its argument that interpretation is the only game in town because language is the only game in town. For there is both uninterpreted linguistic understanding and meaningful experience that is non-linguistic. They reside in those unmanageably illiterate and darkly somatic neighborhoods of town that we philosophers and literary theorists are occupationally accustomed to avoid and ignore, but on which we rely for our non-professional sustenance and satisfactions. p.128

An initial stab at a semiotic square [David Robbins]

This is our first sketch of a semiotic square illustrating ideas from our previous post Art/Life - David Robbins - LeisureArts:

Art/Life - David Robbins - LeisureArts

The old art/life distinction.

The "triangulation" theory of David Robbins.

This notion is worked out in various ways throughout his book The Velvet Grind, but the essay "On Talent" spells things out pretty directly:

That something might stand outside art and report on it, comment on it, editorialize about it in an iconic language of its own - this was, and apparently still is, disorienting. The reason, I submit, is that it instantiates a complication of the modernist dialogue between life and art. Talent suggests that the old binary model has been superseded by a triangulated model whose points are life, art, and entertainment - a competing communication system no less madly self-sustaining, self-referential, and self-celebratory than art. "Showbiz" adds another category that's neither Art nor Life. pg.24

Robbins's triangulation is an important step to finding new forms and languages for what he calls "imaginative practice" - creative, funny, thoughtful forms of invention that are not art. We at LesiureArts find Robbins incredibly useful [We hope to write more, but being the slackers that we are, this might be as far as we get]. He also writes about inventing experience which he distinguishes from producing culture. This is a welcome relief from all of the talk about cultural production, as invented experience resonates nicely with John Dewey's aesthetic theory which is in dire need of being read by the legions of curators and artists who are reinventing the wheel of experience based practices.

The LeisureArts modified model.

As we mentioned, the triangulation theory is an important step, but LeisureArts is interested in expanding the terrain of inventive practices and theory to cover a host of other activities that Robbins's triangle can't account for. That leads to the above modification. In leisure, we have a broad field of activities that fall in between the various oppositions, some closer to one vertex or the other, but the field itself exists in a kind of equipoise (ideally). Adding leisure to the model allows for the inventiveness of car customizers, tea cozy makers, coat hanger collectors, home cooks, and others to mingle on equal footing with so called "high" forms of culture be it entertainment or art.

David Robbins - The Velvet Grind

Some excerpts:

...the pertinent question is no longer "what infinite variety of materials, strategies, concerns might we include in the context of art?" It isn't "what might we map onto the coordinates of art?" These were the questions of modernism. The more contemporary question - tomorrow's question - is "who are we when we pursue a larger field of production, some of which is art?" (p.29)

The maximum site of invention, now, is one that forces the culture of criticality into direct and continuous contact with its strongest and most radical cultural alternative, the culture that thrives despite art's low regard for it, the culture, ladies and gentleman, that actually expresses respect for lives conventionally led, the culture that doesn't need art: entertainment. (p.167)

[for TS]


is gone.

Thanks for the Memories.

Spindle by Dustin Shuler - Berwyn - Public Art/Wayne's World

"Personally, I would have moved the Walgreens and left the Spindle where it is." -Dustin Shuler commenting on the pending demolition of his sculpture (perhaps you remember it from Wayne's World?) to make room for a Walgreens in Berwyn, IL. [from the International Herald Tribune]

More on the demolition and possible restoration here and here.

For a detailed account of public art in the Cermak Plaza Shopping Center (in our estimation one of the most interesting art venues in the Chicago area) see this site:

Escultura Social - Museum of Contemporary Art - More of the same

We recently saw Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The quick summary is that the show makes us even more tempted to rename our collective LeisureArts.

Escultura Social is the Spanish translation of Joseph Beuys's social sculpture. According to the press for the show, the various artists are connected via this "...multivalent point of reference" and have some connection to the Mexico City art scene. The trouble is that the connection to social sculpture seems forced at best and the real point of reference is the stratospheric success of Gabriel Orozco. In a Time Out Chicago article, the curator (Julie Rodrigues Widholm) says, "He’s kind of the father figure artistically." The artists in the show are making work less in Beuys's utopian social sculpture vein, and more in Orozco's art market biennial/fair mode.

Widholm also dubiously offers that the work in the show seeks to "...expand the field of art" and that it "questions the function of art." She breaks the work down into four shopworn categories: transformation of everyday materials; social engagement; language and text; music. popular media, and performance. A quick survey of the gallery scene in most major cities will show that none of this is new. In fact a survey of the last 80 years of art history should quickly dispel any notion that these artists are expanding or questioning much of anything. The work in the show fits neatly within the global art market, conforming to its current fashion, not challenging it. Widholm admits as much, noting that "an engagement with conceptualism is part of a worldwide trend." So what makes this show matter? The fact that the artists are connected to the Mexico City scene? If so, this show is yet another reminder of the simultaneous trivialization and fetishization of place within the globalized art economy.

Our problem, of course, is not so much with the work, but how it is being contextualized. There are some nice things in the show, and they are things. Despite Widholm's claim that "the artists here demonstrate approaches that go beyond making objects," the show is filled with objects (weavings, photos, sculpture, etc.). She's not alone among curators and gallerists who proclaim a world beyond objects presented to us via a room full of them. Maybe it's an ironic gesture to display Mario García Torres's faux text piece in a vitrine of individually mounted pages of paper and situate it as beyond the object, or to display a huge banner of The School of Panamerican Unrest alongside framed and mounted images/text, but it seems as if the MCA doesn't understand how inscribing these projects within the logic of museum display undermines the supposed "new vocabulary" the show seeks to present. Widholm's closing remarks in the pamphlet for the show note that Beuys's notion of social sculpture "challenges us to imagine how we shape, mold, and carve the global, social, and environmental infrastructures of our lives today." This is laudable. We only wish that the MCA, as an extension of the gloabl art market, considered how it too carves and molds ideas, often to the detriment of intellectual and cultural expansion.

That leads us back to our introduction. We have thought all along that the arts were salvageable, but this show is symptomatic of our growing cynicism. Perhaps LeisureArts points in the right direction...

Rirkrit Tiravanija vs. LeisureArts [Sammy Hagar vs. David Lee Roth?]

To illustrate an attitudinal difference between relational aesthetics and the LeisureArts aesthetic, we paraphrase David Lee Roth:

Rirkrit throws the party, we are the party.

SlothArts just doesn't have the same ring...

Wrath:Very Low
Envy:Very Low
Pride:Very Low

Discover Your Sins - Click Here

Art A Way Of Life - Melvin E. Haggerty - Community Art Education

Some tidbits from the 1935 volume Art A Way Of Life by Melvin E. Haggerty:

"Art is a way of life" is a simple statement of short and familiar words. It expresses a way of looking at life that is very old in the history of thought. If it now seems strange it is because we have permitted art to become divorced from the ordinary activities in which men [sic] engage and its cultivation to drift into the hand of specialists from whom the mass of mankind is separated as by a chasm. In recent times this chasm has become very broad and very deep. To men [sic] absorbed in the work of the world artists appear to be a cult and their work and conversation seem esoteric and almost mystical. To artists ordinary folks appear ignorant and unappreciative, and very often their thinly veiled contempt for plebeian tastes has led them to caustic expression. This dissociation is artificial; it is injurious to art and impoverishes life.

[Major snip]

[art as a way of life] sees that as the experiences of life multiply, new and varied purposes arise that call for the invention of new objects and new forms of expression and that these, in turn, vastly increase the possibilities of enriching life...This elemental reality that binds into a single pattern all the varied arts is more important for the philosophy of education than is the stress so often laid upon the differences that superficially separate one kind of creative work from other kinds.

[Major snip]

We have assumed a way of looking at art that permits no gulf between the simple arts of life and the so-called fine arts. It sees all as man's [sic] more or less successful efforts to create things that increase the comforts, the efficiencies, and the pleasures of living.. This view cherishes not even the ethically tinged distinction between good art and bad art.

[Major snip]

The distinction between creation and appreciation is not one between activity and passivity but rather one among different kinds of activity. The realization of this fact should emphasize the essential unity of art experiences.

This booklet is the theoretical foundation for the the Owatonna Art Education Project, or as Haggerty puts it, "a simple statement of the point of view from which the project proceeds." We don't know much else about the project, but a nice description is here: Amazing art education in an ordinary place. It was clearly part of the now sadly, neglected progressive impulse to integrate the arts into daily life at the individual and community level. More research is underway by LeisureArts to see what can be recovered from this amazing experiment in community art education. Any pointers to more information about the project, its participants, and Haggerty is appreciated.

Future Shock

Due to recent interest, we decided to post higher resolution images of this collection of the book Future Shock. The books were all gathered from thrift stores.

John Dewey - David Granger - Richard Shusterman

... Shusterman contends that Dewey's use of 'aesthetic experience' can help us to remember that qualitatively enriched experience, and not national/class privilege or the collecting of precious objects, is what makes art an incomparable source of personal and cultural renewal...The more we learn, and then teach others, how to fashion life itself into art, as Dewey says, the less we will feel the need to treat art as 'the beauty parlor of civilization.' - David Granger from John Dewey, Robert Pirsig, and the Art of Living

Horseless Carriages - Theoretical Fundamentalism - Immaterial Labor

Immaterial Labor - Scholz/Krysa - Rear-view Mirror of Theory

An addendum to our previous post - immaterial labor as epiphenomena

An addendum to our addendum.

Because of the length of our response to a recent comment concerning the above posts, we decided to turn the exchange into a post:

Nate said...

I don't understand - presumably historicizing involves reference to the past. Right? If not, then what does it mean? Can you name any properly historicized theory which avoids your concern about 'looking through the rearview mirror'?

Nate, thanks for the questions...

To "properly historicize" means understanding the context in which various concepts and terms come into use. Language in and of itself is "historical" in a very general sense (or involves reference to the past, as you put it), but the specific implementation of linguistic and conceptual terms within the framework of a theory has a more specific history than that sort of "legacy."

So what the various posts are getting at is a fundamental suspicion of theories that apply themselves to the world rather than allowing the world to act on them - what might be called "theoretical fundamentalism." Psychoanalytic theory tends to be an easy target here, having invented a whole range of concepts (ego, id, castration, etc.)that it then reveals lurking in films, politics, etc. Marxism too has its organizing myths seeing production and labor everywhere. Mapping the world using these specialized tools is certainly useful in certain contexts, but we just like to keep in mind that they are specialized, very partial, and historically bound views and that they are maps after all. Or to return to Baudrillard in reference to Marxism:

"Historical materialism, dialectics, modes of production, labor power - through these concepts Marxist theory has sought to shatter the abstract universality of the concepts of bourgeois thought...Yet Marxism in turn universalizes them with a 'critical' imperialism as ferocious as the other's."

"...Thus, to be logical the concept of history must itself be regarded as historical, turn back on itself...Instead, in Marxism history is transhistoricized: it redoubles on itself and is universalized."

"As soon as they [critical concepts] are constituted as universal they cease to be analytical and the religion of meaning begins. They become canonical and enter the general system's mode of theoretical representation."

And we can also appeal back to the "plain" language example of the different qualitative features between "horseless carriage" which makes sense of a new phenomena by directly invoking the old, and "automobile" which creates a new description altogether, admittedly grafting together "old" terms, but employing them in a very different way.

John Dewey via Giles Gunn - Everyday Art as Generative Context - Gianfranco Baruchello via Michael Principe

In the edited volume The Aesthetics of Everyday Life, Michael Principe, in his essay "Danto and Baruchello: From Art to the Aesthetics of the Everyday," uses Gianfranco Baruchello's farm (this is described in the book How to Imagine) to compose a rejoinder to Arthur Danto's apocalyptic tale of art-as-pluralistic morass in The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art. It is a subtle argument that needs to be read in its entirety to appreciate fully. The gist of the position is that Danto argues that we have reached the end of art history and that this leaves us lost in the "age of pluralism." What Principe points out is that Danto's reading mimics a complaint Danto makes of Plato - that he too banishes art from the world:

"But art history can only end, in a context where history does not end if art is separated off from the world in a crucial way, that is, precisely in the manner Danto shows has occurred in the history of aesthetics from Plato onward."

Ultimately, Principe argues, Danto offers only the possibility of the everyday entering the artworld and not the reverse. What Principe sees in Baruchello's farm-as-art, is precisely the implications of allowing for the latter. Of particular interest to us is Baruchello's conceptualization of art as context-making. As Principe puts it, "For Baruchello, his farm is crucially both a context for generating works of art, and as such a context is itself a kind of artwork." He goes on to note Baruchello's analysis of the importance of Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel as "a context for further work." This work is not confined to the art world, and thus we see that Baruchello's farm, like Duchamp's readymade, is imagined as "a resource for all kinds of creative activity...that Baruchello's aesthetics of the everyday is connected to the ability to see the world as such a resource, for example, as the appropriate sort of context for creative thought and activity." Or even more directly Principe summarizes, "That is, his art [Baruchello's] is a context for speaking and acting in the world."

Art as context-making moves art out of the confines of art history as imagined by Danto and art "...no longer finds direction qua art, but only insofar as it aligns itself with other nonartistic projects." Thus we find art that has made its way off the pedestal and re-connecting art history with history nullifying Danto's negative position as Principe notes, "The end of the history of art only leads to directionless pluralism if the artist is forbidden from entering real history."

The notion of art as a context for imaginative practice, or even imaginative practice as art dovetails nicely with Giles Gunn's reading of John Dewey in Thinking Across the American Grain. Once again, we can only provide a cursory summary here [a specialty of ours!]. Gunn quotes Dewey:

"The history of human experience is the history of the development of art. The history of science and its distinct emergence from religious, ceremonial and poetic arts is the record of a differentiation of arts, not a record of separation from art."

The implications of this view relative to the art history vs. real history conflict outlined above should be obvious. But it might be less obvious how this radically opens possibilities for an aesthetics of the everyday. Gunn's reading of Dewey situates his aesthetic theory of being wholly synchronous with everyday concerns. The site of imaginative activity, of meaning-making, of creative engagement with the world, and of creating further contexts for these various activities, is not confined to the art world, but squarely placed within our day to day milieu. Gunn again quotes Dewey:

"[aesthetics should seek to restore]...continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doings, and sufferings that are universally recognized to constitute experience."

This is precisely the sort of integration Baruchello was exploring within the context of his farm. It is a claim, as Principe puts it, for "...an aesthetics of the everyday where the world becomes an occasion for speaking, acting and imagining[emphasis ours]." Dewey's radically inclusive aesthetics supports such a project, one that is conceived as a site of the endless and critical production of contexts, or as Gunn describes it, "...culture is, or should be, comprised of forms not only critical of previous cultural closures but also potentially creative of further extensions and realizations of experience itself." This is a living aesthetics, one that sees its power drawn from everyday life. Gunn summarizes how art may be conceived within this framework, "Works of art constitute what might be called, if we can dissociate the word 'art' from its honorific connotations, the fullest possible appreciation of the processes and possibilities of ordinary existence..." This leads us back to Principe's concluding remarks concerning Baruchello, "...an aesthetics of everyday life need employ no particular or special way of seeing an environment that is out there and separate, but rather aspires to find a context for living that promotes speaking, acting, and imagining [emphasis ours]."

An addendum to our addendum.

Mikkel Bolt has a long and differently oriented critique of Hardt and Negri in the essay 'What is to be Done?' - Approaching the task through Debord and Negri. There is some overlap of our concern regarding immaterial labor to be found in this quote:

"...it is astonishing how easy it is for them to filter out all the specificities and discriminants within the multitude, keeping only their common attribute as embodiment of immaterial labour. Their analysis is grounded in dogmatic axioms that are positivistic reifications of Marxist theory, which it is hard to defend. Notions such as ‘class’, ‘worker’ and ‘state’ becomes uncritically accepted abstract categories which hide the present in theoretical garments of yesterday [empahsis ours]..."

Sounds an awful lot like the rear-view mirror...

An addendum to our previous post - immaterial labor as epiphenomena

This quote from Giles Gunn's Thinking Across the American Grain: Ideology, Intellect, and the New Pragmatism provides another lens through which to view our concern about theory that takes itself to be the horizon of thought, that fails to properly historicize itself:

"Theory of this sort is always in danger of reifying itself - or, what amounts to the same thing, of treating everything it touches as mere epiphenomena of its own idioms. [emphasis ours]"

Immaterial Labor - Scholz/Krysa - Rear-view Mirror of Theory

Theory through the rear-view mirror of production?

This title-as-question cuts to the heart of some recent concerns we've had after reading Trebor Scholz's What the MySpace generation should know about working for free and Joasia Krysa's Curating Immateriality: The Work of the Curator in the Age of Network Systems. Both essays are emblematic of the problematic embrace of the notion of "immaterial labor" as developed by Michael Hardt, Paolo Virno, Antonio Negri, and others.

The discourse around immaterial labor strikes us as a perfect example of Marshall McLuhan's insight about using the rear-view mirror to describe current phenomena:

"When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future."

In this vein, using "immaterial labor" to describe current networked environments is as inadequate sounding as calling automobiles "horseless carriages." Rather than developing new theoretical language, the antiquated vocabulary of Marxism is re-deployed in the service of an alleged radicality.

This leads us to the origin of the latter half of our title - Jean Baudrillard's The Mirror of Production. In this book Baudrillard describes how Marxist theory exists as a "mirror" of the capitalist order. And he could just as easily have been writing about "immaterial labor" when he notes:

"The critical theory of the mode of production does not touch the principle of production."

So when Scholz paraphrases an old saying - "The greatest trick that capital ever pulled was convincing the world that labor didn’t exist.", he misses the mark. He falls prey to the Marxist "trick" of seeing the world as nothing but labor.

Or as Baudrillard bluntly puts it:

"And in this Marxism assists in the cunning of capital. It convinces men [sic] that they are alienated by the sale of their labor power, thus censoring the much more radical hypothesis that they might be alienated as labor power, as the 'inalienable' power of creating value by their labor. [entire quote in italics in the original]"

Joasia Krysa repeatedly invokes this rear-view mirror view of labor as well, or what Baudrillard might describe pejoratively as the metalanguage of Western critical abstraction. We see again and again in the discussions of the horseless carriages of the networked economy a failure to critique the universalism of labor itself. In immaterial labor we find a merely functional critique, one that Baudrillard might note:

"...deciphers the functioning of the system of political economy; but at the same time it reproduces it as model."

Or to put it more bluntly:

"Failing to conceive of a mode of social wealth other than that founded on labor and production, Marxism no longer furnishes in the long run a real alternative to capitalism."

We can extend this to apply to Marxism's latest variants that invent, again within the already given "rear-view" structural limits of political economy, yet another ghost - that of immaterial labor. Failing to challenge the very notions of production, labor, and value, these theories and those that uncritically adopt them leave us once more heading into the future with our eyes locked in the rear-view mirror of production...

An addendum

An addendum to our addendum

Also see: Horseless Carriages - Theoretical Fundamentalism - Immaterial Labor

Hey Allan Kaprow! [for Douglas Coupland]

Art is nowhere
Art is now here

Aaron Tippin [for the crew of the D/V G.E.]

You get up every morning 'fore the sun comes up
Toss a lunchbox into a pickup truck
A long, hard day sure ain't much fun
But you've gotta get it started if you wanna get it done
You set your mind and roll up your sleeves
You're workin' on a working man's Ph.D.

With your heart in your hands and the sweat on your brow
You build the things that really make the world go around
If it works, if it runs, if it lasts for years
You bet your bottom dollar it was made right here
With pride, honor and dignity
From a man with a working man's Ph.D.

Now there ain't no shame in a job well done
From driving a nail to driving a truck
As a matter of fact I'd like to set things straight
A few more people should be pullin' their weight
If you wanna cram course in reality
You get yourself a working man's Ph.D.

When the quittin' whistle blows and the dust settles down
There ain't no trophies or cheering crowds
You'll face yourself at the end of the day
And be damn proud of whatever you've made
Can't hang it on the wall for the world to see
But you've got yourself a working man's Ph.D.

Now there ain't no shame in a job well done
From driving a nail to driving a truck
As a matter of fact I'd like to set things straight
A few more people should be pullin' their weight
If you wanna cram course in reality
You get yourself a working man's Ph.D.

Kwame Anthony Appiah - Cosmopolitanism - More Quotes

We have some internet connection issues and now have reasons for a lag in posting (so nix the intro to our previous post). We only have time to throw out quotes from current reading.

From Kwame Anthony Appiah's Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers:

"Conversations...begin with the sort of imaginative engagement you get when you read a novel or watch a movie or attend to a work of art that speaks from some place other than your own. So I'm using the word 'conversation' not only for literal talk but also as a metaphor for engagement with the experience and ideas of others. And I stress the role of the imagination here because the encounters, properly conducted, are valuable in themselves. Conversation doesn't have to lead to consensus about anything, especially not values; it's enough that it helps people get used to one another."

Crispin Sartwell - The Art of Living

There's no real explanation as to why the posts here have been lagging - just the usual excuses about busyness and such. We are reading and discussing and scheming. For now we can throw some quotes your way...

Two nuggets from Sartwell's The Art of Living: Aesthetics of the Ordinary in World Spiritual Traditions:

"...the idea is not to become artists or appreciators of art, but to realize we already are artists and appreciators of art. When we are listening to popular music on the radio on the way home from work, we are listening to art that is more typical of and more organically connected to our culture than anything in a museum. When we enjoy a well designed and written advertisement, when we watch a baseball game on television, when we raise our children with devoted care, when we work in absorption in our gardens, we are authentically experiencing art."

"[the Japanese tea ceremony]...is precisely an art of life, an art of eating and drinking and talking and loving nature and other human beings, it encapsulates the basic point of this book: that between life and art no decision is necessary, that we can live our art, that life and art are intimately connected and at their best moments identical."

LeisureArts Curatorial Championship: Final Matchup

It's No.1 vs. No. 1 for the Title

The seeding committee apparently did a great job with its selections as we have two number one seeds facing off in the championship game.

Now we'll see who's really No. 1.
[Ralph Rugoff], the top overall seed in the
[LeisureArts Curatorial] tournament, and [Jens Hoffmann], rolled into Monday night's championship game.

After a tournament filled with nail-biters, Saturday night's games were downright pedestrian. [Jens Hoffmann] beat [Simon Sheikh] despite some foul trouble. [Ralph Rugoff] romped to a victory over [Joseph del Pesco].

It will be a title game rematch of sorts. Rugoff left the CCA Wattis Institute for the Hayward Gallery and was replaced by Hoffmann (at the Wattis). Now these two will fight it out to determine which is the top curator.

It all began here.

Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and The Everyday

Chicago based InCUBATE would be noteworthy if it was a run of the mill non-profit , but it deserves even more consideration and support for its attempt to innovate itself by developing new models for art funding and keeping its own institutional status as an open line of inquiry.

The Final Four!!!

The championship match-up is set. See here.

The Final Four is set - Who will take the title?

LeisureArts Curatorial Championship: Sweet Sixteen

The field for the Sweet Sixteen is set! No double digit seeds survived, but many pushed the top seeds into the final minutes.

Curatorial Championship: Day Two Update

In the second day of tournament action, top seeds continued to do well. Only Udo Kittlemann and Sarah Cook managed to knock off higher seeds (Okwui Enwezor and Gavin Wade respectively). Cook's victory was not without its predictors. Others advancing: Ralph Rugoff, Claire Doherty, Saskia Bos, Nina Montmann, Maria Lind, Annie Fletcher, Helen Molesworth, Nato Thompson, Ali Subotnick, Eric Troncy, Kenny Schacter, Stephanie Smith, Carlos Basualdo, and Rene Block.

Curatorial Championship: Day One Update

There was just one significant upset Thursday, but plenty of top seeds could face challenges during Friday's action.

Top seeds carried the day in the East bracket, except that Elena Filipovic knocked off Steve Dietz. Also in the East, Massimiliano Gioni, Hon Hanru, Michael Fehr, Hamza Walker, and Simon Sheikh all advanced.

The big upset of the day occured in the West bracket where Kitty Scott took out Nicholas Bourriaud. Joseph del Pesco, Lars Bang Larsen, and Christian Rattemeyer also won.

In the South bracket we had Mary Jane Jacob, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jens Hoffmann advancing, and in what is likely a bracket buster for some (High Low & in between), Matthew Higgs was upset by Francisco Bonami.

Finally, we have the North bracket seeing Dan Cameron and Lisette Smits advance.

We have somewhat solved our internet access at sea problems, but access is not reliable and we may not get updates up as soon as we'd like. The bracket won't be posted again until the Sweet Sixteen, so you'll have to pencil in winners until then .

Important technical info in two parts


Dilettante Ventures is setting sail once more. If various technologies pan out, LeisureArts' posting will continue uninterrupted (including coverage of the Curatorial Championship).

Public Amateur - Claire Pentecost - Dilettante Ventures

We are certainly sympathetic to Claire Pentecost's Public Amateur project (apparently stalled or in progress):

It started in an effort to theorize a paradigm of the artist, which is well under way in practice. Under this paradigm the artist serves as conduit between specialized knowledge fields and other members of the public sphere by assuming a role I have called the Public Amateur.

Why Amateur?
Why Public?
On this point she loses us a bit: Why Artist?

See our related posts on the amateur:
Robert Stebbins - Amateur - Greg Sholette
Gregory Sholette - Creative Dark Matter - Carlos Basualdo

Rem Koolhaas is a Trekkie and other minor violations of privacy

This project has been up for some time at Concept Trucking :

A Collection of Amazon.com Wish Lists

Maybe you missed it?

Forget Foucault...well maybe just this once, remember him...

From The Foucault Reader:

What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or house be an art object, but not our life?

Okay, so there's a lot to unpack here, but his heart's in the right place.