Hmmm. I’ve never completely understood the desire to divorce art completely from any sort of consumerism. It’s clear that well respected artists of previous generations were heavily involved in the selling of their art and art done for sale. What we see as art for ancient cultures would most likely be relegated to consumer goods in our own time. In fact, we are all gathered here around the premise of celebrating an artform that is also a mass manufactured consumer good.
I have to say that it would make a difference to me whether he took the job after careful consideration of the implications or in what seems like wilful naivety. It’s a complex topic, and I can see a lot of arguments in favour of doing something like this, but rejecting the notion that a critical view of the concept might also be valid, especially when you end with the notion of a staged Nicolodeon show as a magical childhood experience, makes me rather more cautious about this whole thing.
All art is political, after all.
And with this, I’ll use the opportunity to close with a poem that is, amongst other things, about shopping malls.
Joyce Carol Oates: Dreaming America (1975)
When the two-lane highway was widened the animals retreated.
Skunks, raccoons, rabbits - even their small corpses
disappeared from the road-
transformed into rags
then into designs
then into stains
When the highway was linked to another
then to another
six lanes then nine then twelve rose
sweeping to the horizon
along measured white lines.
The polled Herefords were sold.
When the cornfields were bulldozed
the farmhouses at their edges turned into shanties;
the outbuildings fell.
When the fields were paved over
Frisch’s Big Boy rose seventy-five feet in the air.
The Sunoco and Texaco and Gulf signs competed
on hundred-foot stilts
like eyeballs on stalks
Illuminated at night.
Where the useless stretch of trees lay
an orange sphere like a golf ball
announces the Shopping Mall, open
for Thursday evening shopping.
There, tonight, droves of teenagers hunt
one another, alert on the memorized pavement.
Where did the country go? - cry the travelers, soaring past.
Where did the country go? - ask the strangers.
The teenagers never ask.
Where horses grazed in a dream that had no history,
tonight a thirteen-year-old girl stands dreaming
into the window of Levitz’s Record Shop.
We drive past, in a hurry.
Absolutely. However the artist being paid by the consumer to produce his art is a different thing from using (the illusion of) high-brow art as part of a broader consumer experience whose prime purpose has nothing to do with said art but rather serves to sell different products entirely. Especially if it means that the artist himself becomes part of the capitalist world he is serving to such an extent that he is unwilling to use his critical facilities.
There are sections of the article that show that he is aware of the kinds of issues you’re talking about.
There are also sections where he dares to challenge the idea that a mall is an inherently soulless, corporate, capitalist place.
“Art” is often too removed from the “masses” and cordoned off in ivory towers from where the average person has the ability to interact with it. I thought the article painted a beautiful picture of people who are usually kept at arms length from this sort of thing due to class and expense interacting with art in a very real and emotional way. Someone is always paying for art in one way or another whether it’s through consumerism, endowment or the artist’s own labor outside of their art. Pitting one world against the other is more classist than critical.
Those are actually the kind of sections I refered to, because he jokingly mentions the issues, but only to summarily dismiss them.
And yes, I can understand that he wants to put a specific emphasis on the good people he met there and worked with, and that would be part of the argument if he was actually making one instead of evading it.
Yes, and that would be part of the argument “for”. Like I said, there are many reasons why doing something like this may be valid.
Part of the argument against would be the worry that art is being misused, because art (as opposed to entertainment) has to be an end in and of itself. If it’s being used to sell you something else, it becomes something different, especially when that purpose isn’t clear in the way that the art itself is being shown to you. At the worst, you can accuse a project like this of cynically exploiting people’s emotions.
I am playing devil’s advocate to a point here - the thing is that the relationship between art and commerce is a discussion that is both very old and has been debated very passionately at times, and it seems weird to just ignore it when you’re making an artistic decision.
I think he dismisses them quickly so that you get a sense of where he stands on the subject without him having to launch into a big explanation/defence of his views - because he doesn’t want the whole article to be about that.
As this thread shows, if you start to focus on that element then it becomes such a big and complex issue to explore that it threatens to overshadow the more positive and creative aspects of the exercise.
This is one of the aspects I have seen in my life here (this lady is in Montreal but a Malaysian). Newpapers and social media comments can contain some nasty stuff but in real life encounters Muslims I meet are generally like this in attitude, if not, as with all of us, quite so selfless.
Aldi has only recently reached the northeast US states; I hope they plan the same thing here. Either way, they deserve applause for this generous act.
We do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi’s. It saves us almost half on what we get there and the product is as good or better.
There was a lot of snobbery about Aldi (and also the other German chain Lidl) in the UK. When the credit crunch hit and people were tightening belts I saw a lot of people start shopping there and then wondering why they used to spend more for essentially the same shit.
Yep, I regularly shop at either Aldi or Lidl.
A long time ago Aldi did used to struggle a little bit with their fresh produce, fruit & veg, but in recent years they have improved to the point where there’s very little I can’t get from them, and only a couple of things that I have to buy elsewhere.
To be fair, Aldi really upped their game at some point. I remember my grandparents shopping there when I was a kid and not being impressed with their store brand. Now I would choose it over a lot of other brands.
They really did. Their product quality really is alright at this point; they’ve got quite a lot of choice, and at least over here they have more organic products than many other super-markets.
It’s still very weird to me to see those Aldi signs when I’m abroad though.
This is happening just up the road from me.
This sounds like a good way to go out.
Fuck ya. That’s how I want to go.