February 04, 2008

Like I Care

"Confronted with a collection like [the Refco Collection of Contemporary Photography], the question of what makes one photograph or one painting 'art' and another not 'art' is an honest one. The simplest answer is that pictures become art when we love them for themselves. The more modern answer would be that pictures become art when we love them for themselves, and they seem on the verge of obsolescence, when we are fearful for their survival." — David Hickey, ruminating on Art and All That in an introduction to "Subjective Realities: Works from the Refco Collection of Contemporary Photography" (2003, Refco Group; bought as a remainder at Moe's the other day).

What an odd answer (especially for something written in 2003): it seems to fetishise the isolated art object (the photograph) itself, and seems to want to put the art in individual and sentimentalised relationships to it. I'm never too sure how to respond when someone talks about art that way, but for me the real question when confronted with a collection like this isn't about art, it's "why should I care (about the image or art)?" That's always a much stronger question, a much more interesting quest in the long run.

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At 2/12/2008 10:53 am, Blogger Angela Natividad said...

What does it mean to love an object for itself? It's not like it can sit you down and explain its subjective political stance, or its irrational preference for muenster.

At 2/12/2008 12:23 pm, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

No one can explain an irrational preference for Muenster! Umm, anyway, when a critic talks about loving an object for itself, what I think they really mean is loving it as a reflection of oneself. Which is way too cynical, but there you go.


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