What would you save?

The next module of my degree starts in just two weeks, I’m studying A226 with the Open University and if the last two modules are anything to go by it should be excellent. The first course book arrived last week and it really is a beautiful book. This is a brand new course so I can only hope that this is the way that the OU will be producing their course books in the future. It’s lavishly printed and feels like something worth keeping on your bookcase to refer to.

Anyway, onto the good stuff. An icebreaker activity was posted in the course forum, the question is “Imagine you are in a place you know where art is on show – it might be a national or local museum or gallery, a heritage site, an arts centre, etc.  The fire alarms start ringing, you can smell smoke, and you think: I must save something as I escape.  What work would you save – and why?

I think this is an interesting question and poses two distinct trails of thought. Are you going to save a work which is culturally important or are you going to save something that you like? Or course there’s no reason why the two can’t be one and the same, but it may sway your judgement on your selection depending on which way you approach the question.

So I couldn’t pick just one work, I had to be difficult and pick two.

Rhine II – Andreas Gursky

I love Gurskys work. I love the colours, the use of composition, the repeating motifs, everything. This shot isn’t my favourite of his, but I do believe it’s important for other reasons. I believe it’s possibly one of the most important art photographs ever produced and sold.

$4.3 million this work sold for last year at auction. That’s an awful lot of money. I mean it’s no $250 million Cézanne but it does put it firmly into the high flyers list of prices paid for art.

The thing is, a piece of photographic work being sold for so much money means that the art world is finally beginning to recognise photography alongside the more traditional disciplines. For too long it’s been thought that photography does not involve as much skill as crafts like painting or sculpture and that it is somehow inferior. The fact that anyone can take a half decent photograph with todays technology only serves to reinforce that assumption in many circles.

For anyone that produces or admires lens based work this is a huge step forward in the way that the art world and the public think about this subject. Each time a photograph is sold for more than the previous one it helps raise the status of all art photographers out there.

So for that reason, I’d save it.

Love Poem for CF – Tracey Emin

Your put your hand across my mouth / But still the noise continues / Every part of my body / is Screaming / Smashed into a thousand, / million pieces / Each Part For Ever / Belonging to You

Tracey Emin is true Marmite isn’t she? You either love her or you absolutely hate her. I happen to love her, as you might have guessed.

I’d save an Emin because I believe she says both important things about our perception of art and also raises interesting questions about being a woman in todays society. Susan Hiller said “Being a woman artist is advantageous. If you are a minority, you already know two languages” (1991) which I also think happens to apply beautifully to Emins work as well.

Her work always seems so expressive and directly from her heart. Almost like there are emotions and thoughts pouring out and she just has to capture them and immortalise them somehow. Especially the neon poems that she has produced over the years. However at the same time in every piece, she seems to poke a little fun at the consumerist nature of art, reminding us to not take anything too seriously.

I love this particular piece though for other reasons. Some time ago someone smashed my heart into a thousand, million pieces and still it sometimes feels like every piece belongs to Him. What can I say, it resonates.