A Single Snapshot: What is Art?
One of the best things about travel is that it exposes you to new ways of thinking and existing, and offers countless perspectives for engaging with world and with yourself.
Case in point: my visit to the Bay Area last September included a stop at the world famous Sausalito Art Festival. For almost sixty years, the Festival has been held during Labor Day weekend and gives both established and up-and-coming artists an opportunity to showcase their passions.
I enjoyed the festive atmosphere immensely: paintings and wire sculptures and textile pieces in almost every direction with live music blaring from two stages and home-brewed libations flowing freely. The atmosphere was light and lively, so imagine how shocked I was when I stumbled upon this: a morbidly obese man sitting in a chair, naked for the entire world to see.
He was so still that I wasn’t even sure if he was alive. The crowd that had gathered around him seemed as uncertain as I was. I looked as closely as I was permitted but, to tell you the truth, from my vantage point I couldn’t tell for sure. But for me, the more important question was how does he–how does this–qualify as art?
It’s a question I’m still grappling with. And I love that it makes me think. That it shatters and reforms my previously held definitions of things that I was so sure of before. And while I don’t necessarily have to accept the new ideas I’m exposed to, I appreciate that by making me question my own opinions and beliefs, I gain a fuller understanding of the world I live in.
But that’s not what you’re thinking right now, are you? You’re wondering if that’s really a man sitting there.
Does it matter?