My series of prints, (What Is) ART, doesnt change the perspective of the source material, Marcel Duchamps Fountain, as much as it modernizes and enhances it. Marcel Duchamps original piece was designed to make the viewer think about the ideas behind the work, rather than the presentation of the work itself.
Fountain came about in order to rebel against what was accepted as Art. Duchamp, a member of the Dada movement, believed that it was idea that made art, not pretty colors, shapes, or easily recognizable concepts. He wanted the viewer to think. He wanted the viewer to wonder not what they were looking at, but why they were looking at it.
I found a similar theme in the modern concept of graffiti. Where a mass-produced urinal was scoffed upon as art in Duchamps time, so are the intricate tags of the graffiti artist. There is a constant controversy over whether graffiti, as a whole, is art, or simply vandalism. I would like to believe that the opponents of Duchamps Fountain saw his submittal as vandalism to the established arts as much as city leaders see graffiti as vandalism to established structures.
The main problem with the comparison of Dada to Graffiti is that, quite frankly, many examples of graffiti are simply tags, ways to mark territory; or they are simply colorful pictures with no outstanding idea behind them. It seems ironic, then, that the only graffiti that is publicly sanctioned is graffiti done in the style of a traditional artist; with a clearly defined, noncontroversial theme, illustrated by easily recognizable figures.
In order to merge Duchamps Fountain with the Graffiti world, I placed a photograph of his image on a brick wall, as if it were tagged there. Under it, I placed a bit of graffiti that originally said ART in order to show the irreverence that graffiti artists can have to others works. To polish that idea off, I tagged a second signature on Duchamps work, as lesser artists may do if a work becomes too popular.
I wanted the idea of graffiti to stand out, so I drew the brick with crayon in its entirety, to maintain a rough look. I then did the background graffiti in autographic ink in order to make it pop out from its rough surroundings.
The question I want to leave the class with is this: What is art? Is the concept of art universal, or does everyone have the right to hold his or her own concept of art? If art is universal, then would it be ethically correct to point out what isnt art; even if the craftsperson spent much of his or her time on it? If art is not universal, and it all pertains to the individual, then why should it be studied?