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Antony Clarkson

Manchester UK & Chongqing China

Questions and Paradoxes, Enigmas and Wonders; excerpts from 'the Manifesto of a 'Global Village'-Idiot'. What is art? Why am I an artist? I'll answer the second question first, as I think I know the answer to it; whereas it's harder to be sure about the first. I am an artist because I feel the need to make art. But surly this creates a paradox, if I'm not sure what art is why do I feel the compulsion to make it and how do I know when I have made it? So back to the first question, what is art? To most of society, art, certainly contemporary art is something of an enigma. Much of my work involves a self-reflective analysis of art and its relationship with society, as I feel that is where the real significance of art lies. Through this process no idea is considered too big or small, too banal or outlandish. Indeed I sometimes think that the job of the artist is really to recognise a piece of art work rather than to make one. It is said that being an artist is the only job that nobody ever asked you to do. That somehow suggests that art is an extra, an indulgent, not one of life's necessities. I was recently asked to comment on the idea of 'indulgence' in art for a magazine article. The writer's thinking was about the kind materials that artists use, for me the idea had stronger connotations. The very idea of being an artist is an indulgence. Here I am doing something, apparently, more for myself than for anybody else; I proved that because nobody asked me to do it. But society accepts it; it, doesn't seem to consider art as an extra. Society is happy to indulge artists; it even seems to need them. So what does society get out of the deal? The answer is that with this indulgence comes a responsibility. Society expects us to ask the kinds of questions and do the kinds of things that it would like to ask and do, but is too timid to. We have to create the kind of things that make people ask questions and yes, even wonder. So society needs the artist, but as it doesn't full understand or trust them, so it keeps them on the fringes of society, like the shaman of old. In a world described as a “global village” artists are the 'global village' - idiots.


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