The exhibition Amateurs begins with a statement by the exhibition curator Ralph Rugoff where he explains that the exhibition seeks to "[depart] from the hyperprofessionalization characterizing so much cultural production today." Amateurs marks a shift in the discussion of high-art versus low-art.
Previous exhibitions that included works by Jim Shaw, for instance, always had the inherent hint of irony. Irony is less in the forefront here and therefore this exhibition informs the dialogue surrounding high/low art substantially.
Simon Starling made a boat out of museum display case. This act reflects art as a form of transformation. It’s not just "found art" but a work that transfigures the art process from something static to the something experiential; after building the boat, he used it to catch fish and then burned the original in order to cook them.
Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane have begun a Folk Archive, based on artifacts specific to the UK. Instead of these works being seen as just humorous, there is a respect for them, a desire to elevate them in value and present them with pride.
Jennifer Bornstein shows lovely fragments of everyday life and simple animation, with the sound of the 16mm projector behind. The softness of this experience belies a universal desire to capture our smallest moments.
Josh Greene shares an awareness with us that all we might need is a good listener versus a therapist. His faux-office and unlicensedtherapist.com web piece created sites for anyone to talk and listen. Interestingly, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences notified him that he could not practice unlicensed therapy without a license. This clearly points to why amateurism is de-valued; the "professionals" are not comfortable with "outsiders" in their territory.
Amateurs lifts the viewer to value whatever level of production has meaning for them. High versus low art is replaced with a dialogue surrounding specific production and the meaning it engenders. This places the responsibility of considering art in the hands of the viewer, versus the "experts," as it also frees us to produce and feel value towards what is outside of our "domain."
- laurie halsey brown
(*Images, from top to bottom: Simon Starling, Amateurs, April 23 - August 9, 2008; CCA Wattis, installation view, image courtesy of laurie halsey brown. Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, Amateurs, April 23 - August 9, 2008; CCA Wattis, installation view, image courtesy of laurie halsey brown. Jennifer Bornstein, Amateurs, April 23 - August 9, 2008; CCA Wattis, installation view, image courtesy of laurie halsey brown. Josh Greene, Amateurs, April 23 - August 9, 2008; CCA Wattis, installation view, image courtesy of laurie halsey brown.)