Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Wait -- Class is an Issue in New York?
I watched "Tina Barney: Social Studies" on Sundance last night (there's an excerpt here) and was reminded that the work and the artist are two very separate things, despite our natural efforts to put them together.
Here's a film that takes the strategy of looking into Tina Barney's life and work process as if her biography will explain her art, as so many documentaries on photographers do -- yet in the end, if we're willing to read between the lines, it's clear that the artist, the audience, and the art are not in agreement about what's revealed.
Barney claims she's documenting upper class families, her subjects feel she's revealing their charm, magazines think she's creating images to envy, and galleries think she's making work about class. Perhaps art functions like those "selfish gene" theories -- it's not about the host, but about propagating the art into the future.
The score so far: Biography, 0; Wimsatt and Beardsley, 1.
Above: 43rd Street, looking toward the U.N.