Please wait by the coatroomPresentation Transcript
Please Wait By the Coatroom John Yau Presented by: Furvio, Jane, and Risa
Brief Summary of the Article
Wilfredo Lam has a mixed background.
He grew up with hybrid cultural experiences.
He was influenced in many ways by the western artists such as Picasso and Breton, as well as artists like Aime Cesaire, one of the founders of the Negritude movement.
He did not want to be another artist who just assimilate himself into the mainstream art of the “aesthetic tradition”.
His aim was to become a “Trojan Horse” .
William Rubin overlooks his hybrid ancestry and tries to define him and his artwork as if Lam was a Caucasian artist.
Rubin could not see outside of the western art world.
By referring to Picasso when defining Lam’s painting, Rubin is suggesting that the latter’s paintings are just diluted versions of the first.
Lam was a “one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind”.
This is the struggle most American artists are facing nowadays.
This is an impressive criticism about everything that is wrong with culture today. At least in North America, culture has been reduced to the latest paparazzi pictures taken of a very pregnant Britney Spears and her trip to the dry-cleaners or the lives of Nick and Jessica in the Newlyweds.
Artists that make up the narrow definition of mainstream are increasingly branching off into roles we would never have imagined them doing. Someone can no longer be only a singer or an actor, they have to be both.
Setting aside these criticisms on the conditions of our culture, the article speaks to a lot of frustrated artists out there and deals with real issues of forced assimilation.
I found interesting that Lam, in order to become a unique individual, had to actually give up his uniqueness and adopt a form of it prescribed by whom the article refers to as “the exploiters”. Uniqueness comes at a great cost in the world.
Assimilation is a description of what is happening to the painting by the coatroom and to the artist that inscribed his name to it, as it passes through filters and presumptions that are ethnically centered. The article points out that this type of assimilation is imprisonment. In addition, imprisonment is being forced to accept aesthetic standards of a fixed tradition. Assimilation is described as “suppressing cultural differences and becoming a colorless ghost”. All of a sudden assimilation turns into exploitation and it becomes the only ticket in town to fame.
Thus we are forced to ask the question: Is there any way around this?
The article points out that Lam chooses to become a Trojan Horse , a vehicle designed to infiltrate the syntactical rules of mainstream media. In order words, the beauty of his diverse fusion of ethnicities has to be camouflaged. This type of art form becomes a concealed form of culture.
This can be attributed to a couple of reasons:
The prison in the article takes the form of museums, art history books, galleries, television and magazines. If this is the prison, then what chance do new artist with alternative perspectives have in developing recognition? The question of who controls the media is important.
His race. There is agreement that history is written by the conquerors and not the conquered; which means that by being an Afro-Cuban man with a Chinese father, places him at a disadvantaged to artists that are white.
Yasumasa Morimura: Portrait (1988-90)
Daughter of Art History (Theatre A),
There was a question of Lam’s uniqueness.
What has to be answered before discussing this is,
“ What is unique?” “What is not unique?”
Taking the example of Yasumasa Morimura, what was it that made his art work unique? What is not unique about his art work?
He had put his own face into the historical painting or photo shot of famous actress
The entire form except for his face was created by someone else before him.
However… aren’t all the art individuals make unique? After all, their art works reflect something from their own experience. So, why is Lam being rated by his uniqueness?
Now, what is mainstream and who gets to decide?
Was Rubin really being insensitive by not considering Lam’s race? He did not believe that an artist’s culture should determine the value of the artwork. Doesn’t this mean that he did consider culture, and still decided that it has no effect on the artwork?
Why does it really matter if Lam’s artwork is not being interpreted in the way that he intended? Can you force anyone to understand and interpret the artwork in a certain way as its artist?
If People do not understand the true intention behind the artist’s work, who are they to say that it is not a groundbreaking and valuable?
Klimt: Las tres edades de la mujer.
If I, Risa Kusumoto, a Japanese artist, copied this form of painting and put my face, a Japanese face, with an African baby, would it make any difference to the painting if I was a European artist?
Drew Gonsalves. He white native of Trinidad. He is a musician that does not fit the typical perception of someone from the island either by his looks or by his music. He has often been criticized for playing traditional sounds that are now considered classical, rather than what will launch his career into mainstream. However, he has not compromised his artistic objectives and even when his music is grouped together in the ambiguous category of world music, he still continues on the course he first set for himself and has been, so far, successful at falling into what is marketable.