University of Hawaii Photography Instructor Stan Tomita once told us in a photo tech class that art was the eloquence of an idea. Art seems to be abounding with ideas, some are better than others, and sometimes we leave the eloquence out. As someone interested in language, I am usually concerned most with the idea and how, as art should, it relates to the world at large and what is happening or is going to happen in it. And so, perhaps I diminish unfairly the role eloquence plays in the creation of art itself.
Too often I believe that because many do not have a grasp of language, they cannot adequately criticize the ideas that are floating around or make connections, as with people, who seem to vote against their best interests, See: What’s the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank.
Even some critics of art may not have a grasp of the world at large, which is what great artists possess, and such critics may be eloquently versed. But, when you deconstruct what they are saying, some of their ideas are flimsy, tawdry examples of a focus on the eloquence of art and not on its substance, which is always to tell the truth.
What is the truth you may ask? Well, an example is the proposal of placing a statue of a naked Huck and Jim before the Museum of Modern Art in New York, indicating as DeWitt Cheng has said would infer that all the works in the museum were contextualized by race, which in fact is where and what America has been since its inception. I think America isa contradiction of “All men are created equal” and the actual condition of relationships among Americans.
Race is the visual manifestation of that contradiction and it has been with us for more than 200 years. Unless we solve it, we should “Add a racial subtext to every artwork within MOMA’s [‘]hallowed walls[‘].” and therefore put before it, in public view this statute of Huck and Jim, where it’s “A constant cry against an old order.”