Even if unsettling, KAG exhibit meets the definition of art

Two & Out
By James Peters
January 26, 2017 - 6:30pm

KAMLOOPS — The Armchair Mayor says the 'Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape' exhibit currently on display at the Kamloops Art Gallery amounts to little more than porn, not art.

He also dismisses any potential debates about the definition of art.

But if we are to take the Armchair Mayor's comment seriously, then we must discuss the definitions of both art and pornography.

The latter, of course, is created to elicit a very specific emotional and, even more intentionally, a physical response from its audience.

It is only meant to arouse.

The response to art, however, is meant to be much more broad and varied - highly interpretive in nature.

That response may be admiration, it may be questioning and soul-searching, or it may even be revulsion, which is what this exhibit appears to have elicited from the Armchair Mayor.

The art versus obscenity debate has lingered for centuries, and will continue to evolve for centuries to come.

When Edouard Manet's Olympia was first put on display in the Paris Salon, it was deemed 'vulgar' and 'immoral' by many.

That was more than 150 years ago.

Now, Manet is regarded as one of the forebearers of modern art.

None of the artists on display at the Kamloops gallery will be regarded as the next Manet, but it does go to show how attitudes about art change over time.

And the question here really isn't what is and what isn't art.

It's a matter of taste.

The Armchair Mayor doesn't like this exhibit, and that's fine.

I can't say it's my favourite, either.

I wouldn't hang any of these works in my living room, nor would I have my children accompany me to this particular show.

Art galleries should push the envelope, though, and the Kamloops gallery should be commended for doing so.

That's it's job.

We don't all have to like it.