Have We Forgotten That Art Is Subjective?
Any time someone mentions Beyoncé, Internet strangers feel it’s their duty to lose their minds & praise Queen Bey for well, anything.
Don’t get me wrong — Single Ladies? Loved it. Irreplaceable? Um, that was my anthem. The bestie & I joked that one day there would be drunken karaoke in whichever city is unlucky enough to welcome us. Our swan song? Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor.’ She has looks, voice, & frequently, I’m totally in sync with her creative.
And then came the godforsaken announcement: TWINS!
Now we get to hear the Internet obsess over a Beyoncé pregnancy. Again. Ugh.
Because the Mommy Blogger Brigade isn’t (generally) self righteous enough, and because goody, we all need more mind numbing interviews from celebrity parents that seem to require a lot of words, but rarely say anything of substance… Now we get to hear the Internet obsess over a Beyoncé pregnancy. Again. Ugh.
Oh. Yeah. Subjectivity.
Back to the original subject: art. I’ve always been an artist; told I have an artist’s soul. Of course, while I find Diane Arbus brilliant, others see boring &/or creepy. I spent hours in LACMA, scrutinizing every inch of the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit, while my straight guy friend desperately wanted someone to put him out of his misery. The Helmut Newton exhibition at the Annenburg Space for photography captivated me, leaving me wandering in a state of surrealism, a fetish to learn & create myself as the model in many portraits, and finally, it left me longing for more. More work from a man who has been dead for more than a decade.
Passion for art is not something I lack.
What was my reaction to Bey’s pregnancy photoshoot? Dynamite body (does anyone expect anything less?)
As for art, I struggled with the creative direction — a concept I found to be tacky & gaudy in look… kind of like those portrait studios they set up at high school proms. A lot of stuff, a lot of texture, a lot of… ‘wow, I need a nap & then maybe I’ll come back to this.’
I did come back to it, though not in the form I’d originally intended. Instead I found myself reading the musings of another internet stranger who branded those who questioned Queen Bey’s artistic choices, found the set gaudy, or generally weren’t big on the concept as ‘jealous,’ ‘haters,’ who were of course, ‘racists,’ too stupid to understand such a complex concept.
As artists, we don’t create art for the masses in hopes that we’ll be the next great painter, photographer, etc. We create a world that is our reality.
While this is undoubtedly true in certain instances, if an art school education taught me anything, it is that art is, and always will be, subjective. That’s it’s beauty. As artists, we don’t create art for the masses in hopes that we’ll be the next great painter, photographer, etc. We create a world that is our reality. We shape it with a chisel & hammer until it reflects what’s in our heart, our minds, that which speaks to us. Beyoncé, being an artist who is majorly in the public eye, has done the same.
From the days of Destiny’s Child to Lemonade to the present, she’s evolved as an artist & entertainer. She’s delivered a package of someone who is more than a cardboard cutout. There’s (incredibly pretty) depth, there’s a difference in look, in sound & more than anything, it works because Beyoncé is self aware & has given us a peek in to her artistic vision. I have my personal opinions, but as an artist, I respect her work & talent, whether it jives with my own creative aesthetich.
The Big Question…
All jokes, philosophical & rhetorical questions aside, I keep coming back to one thing: how the hell is it racist to critique someone’s art form?!
Okay, wait… I’m not talking about news anchors who make comments about ruining the dreams of little white girls who, ‘also like Beyoncé.’ That’s obvious & i’d be right there with you.
In this instance I’m not.
In many ways, it’s reflective of me: an introvert, silently observing more than speaking.
My personal aesthetic is very clean, minimal. I have a fetish for black & white photos. A love of the kind of symbolism that is so subtle, you have to want to find it. In many ways, it’s reflective of me: an introvert, silently observing more than speaking & then if you’re someone special, you’ll find things that may not be readily apparent on the surface.
I’d go so far as to say that Beyoncé does the same. You can’t fake a concept. At least most artists can’t. Perhaps we simply won’t. I’m not sure. Either way, Beyoncé commands attention. She’s a brilliant entertainer. It appears natural & instinctual for her. Unlike the chameleon that is Madonna, Bey’s entertainment has grown with her. There is no sense that she does what she does FOR show, it just happens to fall in to place.
I see a testament to Beyoncé as a woman, a black woman, a mother, a wife, daughter, sister and the brilliant entertainer that she is, if she can make another artist take notice, acknowledge what may not be their style, and cheer her on all the same. That is not (at least from my seat) a racial issue, not in this context. Beyoncé’s skin has likely made it harder for her to become the single name known around the world. Actually, there’s no doubt about that. What’s kept her on top, however, is her talent: having a vision that she’s able to execute brilliantly. Authenticity is, perhaps, one of the most powerful pieces of a human being.
…for artists, if people are talking about your work, positive or negative, it means it has made an impact on its audience. And that, my friends, is one of the highest forms of praise, one of the best compliments an artist can receive.
While I dread the commentary from the the blogger brigade that will inevitably bemoan their own insecurities (no one really looks like that, she’s rich — of course she looks good, whine, whine, pass me the wine) I am happy for Queen Bey. Not because I’ll be copying her style any time soon/ever, but because she’s a strong woman who owns her ideas & because for artists, if people are talking about your work, positive or negative, it means it has made an impact on its audience. And that, my friends, is one of the highest forms of praise, one of the best compliments an artist can receive.