Jim Haynes' newsletters

Newsletter 22
November 1977

"Art is anything you can get away with" John Cage
"As long as it is signed" Andy Warhol
"And someone believes it" Jim Haynes

There is nothing wrong in liking anything. One's taste is one's taste and that is that. You can like museums, that's OK. You can like paintings, that's OK. You can like ice cream, that's OK. You can like advertising, that's OK. You can like fat girls, old men, young boys, grafitti, Brahms, deep-sea fishing, it's all OK. But to call one thing "Art" and to dismiss something else as philistine, low-brow; well, my dears, that's not OK. That's finished. Let's get that settled once and for all. No more hood-winking, no more bull-shit, no more intellectualizing. Everything is itself. A rose is a rose is a rose. You either like A, or B, or A and B, or you don't. It doesn't make any difference either way. It's all information, shapes, sounds, and colors. It may be meaningful to you, or not; it may be relevant to you, or not; it may be interesting to you, or not; it may be amusing to you, or not. Only you can say. Only you can speak for you. No more gods. No more critics. No more authorities. No more explanations. No more patronizing. No more. We've had it. It's enough. We know what we know. We know what we have experienced. Each person is unique. Each person will have had unique experiences. Each person's value system will flow and evolve from their unique experiences. Each person is the world's authority on themselves. No one knows your taste better then you. Accept this. Understand this. Respect this. Act on this. And when you realize this, you also must realize that the other person is his or her own authority as well. "What, you don't like this of that? You must be crazy..." - this is finished. Everyone knows what they like. Everyone knows what they don't like. Stop sneering, stop criticizing, stop demanding, stop forcing - and let life flow. Let it be. Don't stop being, don't stop acting, don't stop doing. Just stop stoping others. Allow everyone to be. Let each and every flower bloom. Of course introduce me to new things, new ideas. I can accept them or not. I can find them useful or not. Of course warn me, point out to me, advise me. But remember you are seeing it from your vantage point, from your point of view. It may seem right for you and feel wrong for me. Therefore it is right for you and wrong for me. You know. I know. By all means let us admit when we don't know. No one is a god. No one knows everything. Everyday we learn, everyday we experience new things.

Talking is a medium. Writing is a medium. Singing is a medium. Drawing and painting and sculpting are mediums. Theatre, dance, mime, photography, film, television, video are all mediums. Anyone is capable of using any medium to transmit any kind of information, to make a statement. The concept of "Art" confuses the issue. Anything transmitted through any medium is information. Like it or not, it doesn't matter. To claim that two mediums - painting and sculpture - are the principal producers of "Art" is absurb. And to say that individuals who elect to make statements in this medium are "Artists" is even more foolish. To classify certain kinds of films as "art films", certain kinds of video as "video art", certain kinds of books as "literature" is, for me, senseless and arbitary. It suggests that the rest is valueless and/or of little importance.

Producing something in any medium is valuable if only to the person or persons doing it. Receiving information through any medium has value if it brings anyone anything.

No more "Art Galleries" - instead let us have Mixed Media Centres, Energy Centres. Let us not go to worship - instead, let us go to learn, to exchange, to enjoy. Stop de-humanizing. Let us create situations and opportunities where we can meet each other and increase human exchanges. Media can build walls between us or knock them down. Let's knock down the walls...

The concept of "Art" grew out of a linguistic mistake, then filled the vacumn left by a grwoing disbelief in relision. "Art" became - and still is - the new religion. Painters and sculptors became the High Priests. Being an "Artist" or "understanding Art" gives one a special place in society. It confers sensitivity. It supposely separates one from brute forces, the illiterate masses, the philistines. But this is a lie, an illusion, a fabrication. Hanging an expensive painting on one's wall doesn't make one better, wiser, nicer, or more sensitive. It is a conceit. It may make one feel better, more important - but you are still you - expensive painting or not. If one wishes to be better, nicer, more sensitive, then be it. No amount of so-called "Art" will help. They cannot change you. Only you can change you.

The "Age of Art" is over. Let us now enter an "Age of Mutual Respect". Everyone cries out for it. Everyone needs it. Why do we not give it? Either everyone is an "Artist" or no one is. For me, everyone is themself. Everyone has their own story to tell, their own life to live. Everyone has value. We are all fantastic.

The above is, as a lot of you will recognize, a continuation of my attempt to demystify the concept of "Art" and all that that implies. This brief statement is one blast. If you agree with the above, feel free to transmit it to others. If you do not, please tell me why. Feedback always welcomed.

 

Jim Haynes
November 1977
 
 

 

 

 

 

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