There’s a line from a song in Finian’s Rainbow that goes “when everyone is somebody, then noone’s anybody.” So this Sunday, in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, an article called Pixels at an Exhibition appears to raise once again that burning question: what is art? For the exhibition in question at the Kitchen gallery, named simply, Artists Using YouTube, a few artists were invited by the curator, Rachel Greene, to choose videos from YouTube and to exhibit them in the gallery space. I say that it appears to raise the question although the author of the article, Virginia Heffernan, seems to assume that at least some of it is art or can be framed as art.
It seems to me, after years of teaching about art and the isms–postmodernism, poststructuralism, deconstructionism–that, in my retirement, I continue to deconstruct, in a myriad of ways. To the poststructuralist, the text is anything that can be read: interpreted; understood; written. According to Harvey [Harvey, D. (1989). Postmodernism, the condition of Postmodernity (pp. 39-65). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Basil Blackwell], “the deconstructionist impulse is to look inside one text for another, dissolve one text into another, or build one text into another.” My kimonos have become my text to deconstruct, to look inside one text for another, dissolve one text into another, and, ultimately to add new meaning–to build one text into another.
It was this particular kimono, the first pre-WWII piece I had purchased, that had my head filled with its complex meanings. Unlike many of my finished de/reconstructions, I wanted to keep this intact, to preserve its one-ness. Rather than treating the text as one to be lost in the intertext, I awoke one morning with the thought of preserving its meaning, while at the same time, giving it new form. The brilliant red lining identifies its particular history. The skinny scarf is the experiment; a larger version will follow.