Tuesday, March 01, 2011

ART 102

I am currently enrolled in Art 102.  The class is all about time-based art such as performance, sound, books, etc.  Our instructor is not a professor, but rather, she is a Grad student.  Each week she assigns us an extremely lengthy reading to complete and then write a paper about it.  I am not the only one that finds these readings to have no real purpose other than busy work.  They are terribly written and extremely dry.  None of them have taught me anything except anger and frustration.  This week's assignment is by far the worst.  Perhaps it is because I just get more angry with each paper that she assigns.  Apparently our papers that we have done up to this point are not correct.  As a whole, we have summarized the assigned readings and then put in a paragraph or two about our own thoughts.  She informed us that from this point out, we need to make our papers an analysis of the readings.  She wants us to write about our thoughts and how we feel about the readings.  She has also decided that the papers will not be one page long anymore, but instead will be three pages long!
As always, I put this assignment off until the last night because I absolutely couldn't muster up enough energy to read the crap that we were given.  After reading most of the paper and writing my analysis as I went, I got so annoyed that I just stopped reading it altogether.  I decided that if she wants to know how I feel about the reading, I would tell her.  The following is my 2 1/2 (not the required 3) page paper:

The Politics of Performance
            In Performance Art there is nothing leftover.  After a live performance, all that is left of it is a memory.  This is a very interesting statement that makes me reflect on what exactly performance art is and how it can be presented. “Performance honors the idea that a limited number of people in a single time/space frame can have an experience of value which leaves no visible trace afterwards.”  Since memory is such a fleeting idea, it is important to present a performance that is remembered.  How we do that can be difficult, but there are many factors to consider.
            What makes performance so wonderful as a form of art is the inability for us to mass-produce it.  Each performance is unique regardless of any similarities it has with another performance.  In each performance, the performers disappear and become what they are representing: music, character, personality, dance, movement, sound, and/or art.
            While reading “The Politics of Performance,” I became annoyed and angry.  Although the first couple paragraphs led me to think that the chapter might be worth my time, and that I might actually learn something about performance, the further I read, the more obvious it became that reading this was a waste of my time, energy, and thoughts.  The chapter started out with a few interesting ideas related to performance, but then it took a terrible turn.  As the reader, I was bombarded with anti-feminist ideas, talk of genitals, a mockery of Catholic faith, an offensive jeer at Nietzsche, and boring, poorly written performance critiques that seemed far-fetched and contained abstract conclusions.
            Simply using large words and a related vocabulary word here and there, does not constitute a good paper.  Jumping from one thought to another and then back again without clear transitions, makes a paper hard to read, but more notably, it makes the reader want to stop reading the paper at all.  Throwing in several eccentric ideas just for the sake of having them in the paper, makes no sense whatsoever.  The author, Peggy Phelon, goes off on tangents about a handful of “performances” ( I use that word lightly) with long passionate ramblings that seem weird, often radical, and as though she is simply writing to impress someone.  Her critiques are extremely bizarre and unless you have read the artist’s statements about their performances, seem fabricated by the writer for the sake of writing a book long enough to publish. 
            As we near the end of the reading assignment, we notice a change in chapters.  Suddenly we are reading another chapter.  The first few paragraphs of the next chapter begin in nearly the same way as the last chapter we read.  The ideas mirror each other.  Although this is a welcomed relief from the previous chapter, it does not contain any new information.  To make it worse, the author starts droning on about more performances again.  Without missing a beat the author jumps from homo-sexual desires, to feminism, to savings and loans programs set up at loan institutions that promise security. 
            By this point, I asked myself, “What the hell am I still reading this [curse word, curse word] for?”  I closed the file on my computer screen and opened my word program to begin typing a response to the required reading.  Honestly, I am really frustrated by all the reading assignments that do not teach me anything about the subjects we are studying in class.  So far each of the readings has been lengthy and boring.  They have not interested me in any way.  I have learned more from “researching” the material on websites like Wikipedia which is not even a very good website to get educational information from due to the fact that anyone can write anything on that website with no real discrimination of real fact vs. fiction.  Wikipedia or About.com if given the choice between that and the article we were required to read for homework.
            I apologize if this analysis seems harsh or disrespectful.  My disgust with the reading assignments for this class is in no way geared toward you as an instructor.  I simply find them to be a waste of time for no real substantial purpose other than busy work.  I feel it is extremely important for an artist to understand all forms of art and gather inspiration from all aspects of their lives.  It is also important for students to trust that their instructors are educated to a much higher degree than they are as students.  I recognize your educational merits and respect them completely.  I realize that you probably have a reason for having us read these material, but  I also feel that reading such terribly written, boring, and uninformative material is not worth my time as an artist or even as a student.  I understand that by not finishing the last two pages of the reading assignment, I have not fulfilled my homework requirement.  I accept that I will most likely not receive full credit for this assignment.
Hope Your Week is going well.

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