lizza littlewort on the nature of “art”

lizzaI think it’s an imperialist idea with massive blind spots.

I think creativity, and the making of artefacts, is a product of cultures in general, and the Western sense of “Art” is a product of massive surplus over and above the meeting of needs for artefacts.

The idea of it as a “high” expression of culture has spread with imperialism, as did the idea of a “national culture” being expressed through literature. It is as Western as the English language, and carries with it the same kinds of embedded privilege, in terms of it being a “text” which privileges European concerns. It is impossible to “speak” art without its European history being part of the discussion.

I think that much like European history has been selectively “rewritten” to seem to be a continuous, meaningful story from prehistory to Modern America, so has art history.

It’s great to have it around. Certainly I like it. But to engage in it without confronting its lies and limitations is like living inside the bubble of white privilege without standing back to look at its impact on the world in general, and see who gets favoured by its discourses of “natural” “genius” and “talent” (as opposed to “first-language” familiarity), compared with who gets punished and dumped outside its magic circle like so much human trash.