Art is ____________.

Not long ago I was asked to write down my statements on what art is and what it contributes to resistance in my PO936 ‘Resistance in Practice’ module.

Of course, as one of the few top students in this module (sarcasm), I demonstrated my resistance in practice and chose not to contribute any of my statements at all.

The truth is, I struggled to come up with a statement on art even after hours and hours of thinking.

Art is…an expression of self.

No, no, that’s too easy

As a child whose parents studied fine arts, whose dad is an art teacher, these statements are too simple; I need to come up with a better definition for art

And then art can be part of humanities as well…

Can I actually relate some of the themes from the law and humanities to contribute my definition of art?

And just when I was working on my law and humanities essay, I came across this lovely piece of reading from the Yale Journal of Law and Humanities.

Joushua Decter’s ‘Inside and Outside Sovereignty, Outside and Inside the Law’.

Not only does he quote my favorite idol Giorgio Agamben to begin with as his introduction, what he wrote was exactly what I wanted to say about art. His way of expressing sovereignty through a poem linking with law as well as art have been simply beautiful.

“Art is governed by the same laws it seeks to break.
And yet we might say that art is always endeavoring to be at once inside and outside ‘the law.’
If art breaks these laws, it breaks itself.
Which can result in powerful art…
We are the order we seek to disorder.
We are our incomplete sovereignty.
Decriminalize us.”

Decter, Joshua (2015) “Inside and Outside Sovereignty, Outside and Inside the Law,” Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities: Vol. 27: Iss. 2, Article 8.
Available at: h p://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlh/vol27/iss2/8


2 thoughts on “Art is ____________.

  1. ss2152 says:

    What is art? Andy Warhol defined it in a simple way: “Art is what you can get away with.” I was wondering whether law is any different in that regard. Could you say, “law is what you can get away with”?
    On the one hand, when you get off scot-free – without punishment – for something you did, this does not necessarily make your act legal. You might have been just lucky.
    On the other hand, when judges get away with their decision – when it is not quashed by a higher court – it can be used as a precedent and thus becomes law. This happens regardless of whether that law is fair or just, but art is not always beautiful either.
    Something similar applies to the legislator. Unless the legislation is overturned by a competent court (or is repealed due to public/political pressure), the legislator gets away with it, and consequently, it is law.
    In that regard, law is not so different from art.

    In the art world, gallery owners, museum managers and art critics – instead of judges – often decide what art is and what is not. Nevertheless, art seems more open than law.
    Admittedly, those people who have a say in the art business decide who should be able to earn money with their art. Is this what Warhol meant by his statement – being able to get away with your art in the art world?
    Anyway, I think that apart from that, everybody can decide for themselves what they want to regard as art. It is very subjective. For example, if you think that the half-destroyed pancake you made is art, then it is art! If you convince another person that it is art, you even “get away with it” (although I still do not think that it should be necessary to have it confirmed by an outsider).
    In law, it is somewhat more difficult. People who want to found their own micro-nation with its own law might experience that. Law is more formalized, includes many legitimization processes, and then often claims to be objective or even universal. However, like art, it can help us to express ideas and concepts by putting them into a certain context or medium.

  2. bg263 says:

    Art is the question that puts you in peril.

    Art is the blindspot displaced.

    Art is in perpetual retreat.

    Art is at a distance from itself.

    Art is the laughing hysteric.

    Art is the banshee in your basement.

    Art is the gravestone of the child that dies in your place.

    Art alleviates without alleviating.

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