|C'est trop fatiguant d'être aimable. Watercolor on paper 2015.|
Blythe Smith: Out of Bounds 2–20 September 2015
Rööperin taidesalonki gallery
The Finnish art scene relies on distorted values, just like society. Out of Bounds, an exhibition by visual artist Blythe Smith, shows why and how.
My works shed light on the normative webs and networks people and artists weave for themselves and each other. The exhibition’s themes cover detachment and alienation. Abnormality and disconnection. Power and categories.
Who is inside the groups and who is outside – who falls outside of them unwillingly and who wishes to remain outside? Is the viewer/experiencer of a work of art an outsider? Are the characters in my works the outsiders – mere objects that only exist through the gaze of the viewers and experiencers? What is the relationship between the characters; what is their relationship with the community they are supposed to belong to? Who has the control – who is being controlled? Is anything the way it looks like?
It is by no means unusual in art that norms are broken. Artists strive to break them consciously: questioning, innovating and discovering new things – disturbing, stirring up, seeking attention – these are in focus in modern art, in today’s art.
It is said that art should be a thorn in the flesh of society. But is it allowed, even in art, to break all the norms? A mere scratch of the surface is enough to reveal unwritten rules and hidden norms that you cannot touch if you wish to gain success as an artist.
Many artists silently criticize, for example, the cult of the Artist Person that prevails on the Finnish art scene; yet, many of them are happy to kiss the rings of those on the pedestal – and, whilst doing so, they approve of the whole system.
Networking, various tips for gaining prominence, and profit-seeking contact building are only criticized rarely. Even in art studies, the benefits of networking seem to be the main focus. What is more important than artistic work is a loud and blatant omnipresence.
Even those artists that feel networking and the requirement to be constantly present and available are agonising, often content themselves with saying that ”that’s the zeitgeist” or ”that’s just part of the reality of the art scene today”. Cocktail parties and publicity stunts are more important than independent hard work.
This is fully understandable. Competition is tough. Visibility in the art scene is limited – and whenever there is some, it often lasts for a very short time and remains painfully narrow. The fifteen minutes of fame have been reduced to seconds in the stream of ever flowing tweets.
And yet visibility is needed: all art must be relational in order to be art. Art needs relations and experiencers, in order to qualify as art. Nobody can see what I’m doing when I’m painting in the corner of my studio, unless I make myself and my art visible. Constantly. All the time.
Out of Bounds explores the individual and groups, relations and non-relations. Power and powerlessness. What happens when you struggle not to comply with the norms – so much so that you may end up doing it in a normative way?
https://vimeo.com/user24166843 - Blythe Smith on vimeo
You can also find me on Facebook (Blythe Smith) and Instagram (malluvain)
Out of Bounds 2–20 September 2015
Iso Roobertinkatu 29
Vernissage 1 September 17:00–19:00