Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Conflict of Interests

Today, I had my first visual arts class since high school. It is called Intervention and Public Practice, which to me sounds more like some sort of a class for law students. Or a class they would offer to inmates on death row and terminally ill patients, because it might make their lives that much shorter.

I went because I need a visual arts class, and because it is also listed under Art History. There was no course description to be had online, and after sitting through a class that was held in an art studio with the teacher describing in detail each class session we will have for the next 9 weeks, I can confidently say I still do not know what the class is about. All I know is that I have no business being in that class, and I am now considering dropping it and taking Problems with Modernism: 1913, instead.

We got into class and the first thing the teacher had us do is a 20 minute freewrite in which we described had to give "light to who you are, your interest in art, your ideas of art in public places and how you fit into art practice." I finished mine in under 7 minutes, but since the teacher explicitly said that we could do ANY FORM we wanted to describe ourselves, be that a poem or to perform an interpretive dance, the other students who actually looked like they might belong on the class (you know...tall boys with infinitely long, skinny legs and hair covering their eyes), other people took a longer time. So after I had finished, I had an ample amount of time to look around at my peers.

They were all older than me. They all looked like they hadn't eaten carbs in a couple of years. And most of them looked pained. Artfully pained. They fit David Sedaris' description of his artsy, cracked out days in Me Talk Pretty One Day to a tee.

We started to read our descriptions aloud. I was the third person to go. The two people before me said things like "I don't want to be opaque...I enjoy the sound of sunsets...I think discussion is irrelevant...I enjoy finding meaning in the systems of the universe...I enjoy holding hands...I like miniature things...I enjoy words on a page...I am interested in my disinterests, like spelling and grammar...". Descriptions like that. Things that I felt like I might have written years ago, before I tried reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Before I recognized the flaws of Garden State. And before I recognized that focusing on the deeper, darker side of your psyche is not going to unconditionally revolutionize art in your lifetime or even in the future. Before I recognized that you just have to get over yourself and move on.

There was a sculptor, a multimedia artist, a couple of PhD students in a variety of artsy things, and then a couple of other artsy people. And then me, who was sitting in a very isolated part of the circle with several empty chairs next to me, because people just KNEW that if they got too close to me, they would lose their artsy aura.

I've found through a variety of experiences in foreign countries that the only way to communicate with people who don't speak the same language as you is to be gravely blunt. Like the time when I was stuck in Bologna and needed a tampon. Could I say tampon in Italian? No. But what I could do is pull one out of my purse and said "I would like this" *point* Or when I needed deodorant in Portugal. "I would like this" *lift underarm and apply imaginary deodorant* The same held true for trying to communicate with this class. My description was short and sweet, to the point, I am Adrianne from California and what I know about art is this. And I like musuems."

The teacher's description involved how if he were held hostage in a museum, he would probably lock himself in a bathroom instead of remain in the gallery. Excellent. I can tell that we have the same approach to things.

The class also involves "Heated Debates" in the university pub (because, according to the teacher, people say things with alcohol they don't say when they're sober...he got that one right, but in my experience, with alcohol in my system, I have never yet waxed lyrics or revealed insightful commentaries about Intervention and Public Practice) and mysteriously entitled "Happenings" that everyone participates in with groups. The group is supposed to come up with something, a "Happening," that...I have no clue. My comprehension ends there of the "Happening." Something that has to do with the class.

When I was walking out of the class, one of the boys joined me on my speed walk back to my apartment and asked me:

"If you could be a ghost, what would you haunt?"

It was then that I decided that my personal description should have been something like this:

"Hi, my name is Adrianna Klara Gyorfi. I am from California. I do not like the smell of body odor, and I enjoy biting sarcasm and wit. I also like describing people like you in my blog. And as far as my place in the practice of art, the pictures I will paint of you all in it will not be pretty."


At 11:30 PM, Blogger Russell said...

Heated debates in the pub are part of the curriculum?

As a passive spectator I look forward to more unpretty pictures to be painted of this class.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Kat said...

I enjoy finding meaning in the systems of the universe...


and now that that's out of my system: the Pub thing is actually kind of cool. I mean, I don't know. it sounds like fun, sort of. If the people in your class weren't like the people you just described.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger pamela said...

Are you serious about the hug? What did the POOR professor say?!

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Matthew said...

This blog is great... I definitely know those people you are describing. My vote: don't drop the class. You will have many interesting blogs if you stay in it!

And you can BS your way to an A. They should actually call these classes "BSing for credit"

I love you Adrianne :)


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