Conversation Peace, Installation Art, Mixed Media, Music, Painting, Visual Art

// conversation peace // what makes art art?

art by Can Pekdemir, based in Istanbul, Turkey

art that challenges form by Can Pekdemir, based in Istanbul, Turkey

Night had fallen and so had rain. I arrived at a suburban home outside Portland, Oregon, and I did not know the hosts because my brother invited me there. The parents of the household were ethnically Jewish and born in Ukraine, and the father formerly served in the Israel Defense Forces. I didn’t bring up his military service or politics, but I knew he had been a sniper and had killed people. I accepted his offer of alcohol by drinking whiskey and rum. He then made small talk, and after I answered some of his questions, he wondered out loud, “You dedicate your life to art?” Here are excerpts from the conversation that followed:

—HIM: “Who decides what makes art art?”
—ME: “The fans. Some journalists. The people who really care about it to understand how it’s changing.”
—HIM: “It has nothing to do with pricing?”
—ME: “No. That doesn’t make art art.”

me, an art fan and journalist, next to Victor Castillo’s work [Merry Karnowsky Gallery]

—HIM: “Is pop music art?”
—ME: “Some of it. A lot of pop music is manufactured. It’s simple and catchy using familiar song structures. It’s sugar. It easy to like and so people like it. Some classical music and experimental music have more sophistication. It takes investment and time to appreciate why and how they’re different. They challenge form. That’s why they’re art.”
—HIM: “So it’s okay that I like pop music.”
—ME: “Of course. Everyone has a right to choose but there have to be choices available. I’m not here to convince anyone to like art if they don’t respond to it. Pop music and experimental music are both necessary. They’re part of a balanced spectrum. People who start out listening to pop music need to know that music that is more complicated is available to them. That’s all.”

britneyspearsgold

Britney Spears, pop music artist

Arcade Fire, still an indie band, but now with a popular following

Arcade Fire, still an indie band, but now with a popular following

—HIM: “So which one is more important: Mozart or Rembrandt?”
—ME: “They developed different things. That’s like asking me who is more important to science: Tesla or Darwin?”

a Tesla coil, photographed by Dickenson V. Alley for the Century Magazine

A Tesla coil, photographed by Dickenson V. Alley for the Century Magazine

The discussion reached a standstill after some time. He changed the topic.

—HIM: “Is empty” (pointing to my whiskey glass).
—ME: “I’ve had enough.”
—HIM: “Is empty.”

Remember that there are no correct answers on Accord Progression, only Conversation Peace.

—Tommy Tung

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