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12.07.2003

outsider art

Frustratingly little information on Judith Scott:

Judith Scott (born 1943), a fifty-five year old woman with Down's Syndrome, has spent the past ten years producing a series of totally non-functional objects which, to us, appear to be works of sculpture, except that the notion of sculpture is far beyond Judith's understanding.

Found that on (solipsis) //:phaneronoemikon. Further research (yeah, research: type Judith Scott into Google. Oooh, big research,) led me to some interesting stuff about Art Brut. Outsider Art. Something I should know about except that I shouldn't. Here's my own quick, not-though-out-first synopsis of what/why:

Outsider Art deals with art created outside the boundaries of the art world. Art not poisoned by theory. "Art Brut" sounds all fancy, so there's a funny contradiction. While artists might study art a lot, anyone doing this kind of stuff probably can't really be studying it. Of course things can't be that black and white. There are surely a lot of people creating things without regard for labels and without thinking about whether or not whatever they're doing is actually "Art."

Here's something about Outsider Art and Judith Scott, including at least one larger photo than what was linked above, called Brutal Beauty by John Perreault.

I'm interested in this from a number of angles:

1. It's pretentious to say, "the notion of sculpture is far beyond Judith's understanding." There's more in that first link which says, "As well as being mentally handicapped, Judith cannot hear or speak, and she has little concept of language." Looks to me like she has language. Whether or not she has a concept of language is irrelevant in a lot of ways.

2. The pictures of the objects that I see lead me to consider, as I often do, that "art" has a lot more to do with the receiver than the composer. The power of art comes from the person observing it. This is true regardless of whether or not there's a message conveyed. While some artists are trying to express some message with their art, others may simply be expressing their own whatever. A thing is no less powerful if it does not communicate a predetermined truth, it is simply not necessarily communication.

3. What causes this woman to create this stuff?

That last is probably what the book (mentioned in the first link, and in a little more detail here,) is focused on. Of course it's presumptious of me to say that, as I've only read this little tiny bit of stuff. At any rate the middle thing is more important to me, and can lead me off in a million directions. Often does lead me off in a million directions. I come to the point of thinking about that from many places, and leave in many ways.

A reason to want to function outside art, to not want to study capital-A "Art" so much as to want to simply ingest things is exemplified in this quote from the Perreault article: "In other words, as the Dubuffet text implies, if Art Brut is art then it has to be judged as such. The same goes for every other artwork now under the Outsider Art umbrella."

Why is anything being judged?

(to be continued?)

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