Arlington Arts Center + discussion

I thought that viewing the show at AAC last Friday was both really interesting and a great way to learn about collaborative art-making through personal conversation with artists and close encounter with their work. "America's Grave" was definitely a unique art experience. (I guess I should call it multi-media and not art, as Randall articulated).

What I took most from the piece was the multiplicity of stimuli. It was certainly overwhelming in one sense, to be in a dark room with a lot of different visuals, video, text, and sound. For me, all of these elements combined to create a kind of other-worldly feeling, it was almost as if I could feel the artists pulling me into their own narrative, and it was some kind of dark spiral into hell. They were spinning the story of the governmental horrors of the past 7 years as a very dark, sinister, morbid plunge into hell or a place like it. It was almost as if, no matter what opinions one held about the state of our country during the Bush admin., once you came out of "America's Grave" you couldn't help but emerge with a new sense of doom and despair. Personally, even though I share similar feelings about the state of our nation etc., viewing this piece served to heighten those feelings, and in a way, make me take a step back and think about just how serious this situation is.

Regarding the discussion with the artists, I had mixed feelings. I thought it was great to be able to get first-hand insight into their working process and intimate thoughts behind their piece. The fact that this piece is a continual evolution and still unfinished was fascinating. Now that I have seen it in one state, it makes me that much more curious to view another version or the final product. What I was most surprised by when listening to Randall and John was that they seemed to assume a lot of things about the audience they were speaking to. While I think we were an audience that was probably very receptive to their ideas, it struck me time and again that they really had no idea that one of us was not a devout follower of Joel Osteen, for example. This seems somewhat unrelated to the concept of collaborative art, but made a fairly big impression on me, just the same. This may be because I am also studying education and I feel very aware of my student population whenever I teach. While I do not think one should alter his/her views for others, it was an interesting dynamic in the discussion last week, and it felt a bit more like a lecture than a discussion. Although it did on for a fairly long time, I think if we had had more time, it would have been nice for both students and artists to engage in more of a discussion of ideas/art/themes.

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