“Building on the Past” Katie Sweeney
Art, science, general knowledge, and culture, all borrow from the past. The Contemporary Art Gallery’s exhibit, Playing Homage, exemplified the idea that the ideas of someone else are not only inspirational, but indispensable. Similar to the argument in RIP: A Remix Manifesto, this exhibit brought forward the argument that the present relies on the past. Rather than stealing the ideas of others, the artists borrowed and built upon them.
With the exception of Rodney Graham’s piece, where he inhabits his own role as the painter, none of the pieces really stuck out as beautiful artworks. It wasn’t the art itself that was so enjoyable, but the driving force behind the exhibit as a whole: artists coming together, playing roles and paying homage, to respect artists of the past, and define contemporary art of the present. Upon walking through the gallery to see the different forms of art, coalescing to create a unified message, I was reminded of an interesting website. Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt created a website were artists of all kinds (poets, painters, songwriters, cartoonists) can post their pieces for each other to use. To me, that is the whole point of art. I see no point in expressing oneself if it wont be expressed to anyone but the artist.
By bringing slightly different ideas to the table, the artists of Playing Homage took inspiration from pieces of the past, and brought new themes to life in their own ways. Mark Leckey used Jeff Koons’s Rabbit in a digitally animated form to reflect his own piece. Even Lee’s photographs in Photographic Nude Studies by the Artist and his Father pay homage to his father’s original work but adding a slightly modern touch to the 1950s images. Playing Homage represented the importance of building on the past, in both art and in general, and the respect given to those being paid tribute to.
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