February 27, 2002 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Vandalism proclaimed as art by art student victims, sort of. Is the problem with art (it is easy and anyone can do it) spreading to crime? Via ObscureStore
posted by sailormouth (11 comments total)
what do you mean "sort of"? No one calls it art in that article...
posted by techgnollogic at 9:21 AM on February 27, 2002

Reading the article, it did not seem that the vandalism was being elevated to "art" only that there were elements of the vandalism that led the students and faculty to believe that it was an inside job.

I don't think that the concept of vandalism as art is really that new however. Graffiti art is nothing new. I think more of a problem is the idea that "art" is something that can happen only if you spend four years getting hazed in art school along with a touch of "natural genius." In fact, I think the problem is exactly the opposite from what is stated in the leading post. Only "professional" art and music is real art and music which has led to an overall decrease in both good taste and in the quality of the arts produced.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:25 AM on February 27, 2002

There was another discussion about vandalism as art on here a long while ago; one poster actually attempted to justify graffitti citing that the "artist" has more of a right to a boring white wall because he's "creating" art with it.

The actual explanation was longer, but all in all it was the heaviest, most disgusting load of b.s. I've ever read.
posted by tomorama at 9:43 AM on February 27, 2002

Here's what Romenesko said: Art students get really philosophical about vandalism -- Dartmouth art majors and faculty talked about last week's art department studio vandalism, and decided an artist probably did it . One student said: "This is an internal thing -- something we can all relate to as artists and as people. In a way, it's like you did it." Another added of the vandalism: "The way I see it, it kind of makes sense."

Which sort of suggests why the FPP was written as it was, but I agree it's highly inaccurate.

I'm just surprised there hasn't been a teach-in to understand the vandals, and determine what the art department possibly could have done to cause them to resort to such desperate methods of getting attention. :-S
posted by dhartung at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2002

Several individuals mentioned a lack of space in the studio buildings as a possible contributing factor.


As opposed to the gigantic space between the vandal's ears. This is simply an act of misplaced aggression; nothing more, nothing less.

Next time I decide to take a piss in the rubber tree plant at the Drake hotel, I can only hope the security staff is as understanding.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2002

What I meant by “sort of” was “not exactly”. The FPP was meant to be as over the top as the students analysis of the vandalism. They are approaching the vandalism in a similar manner as art is analyzed in studio critiques and art history class.
It was a crime. The police have prints. If they match the prints they have the perp. If they do not match the prints what will happen? The art students concluded it was an inside job, so will the Scooby Gang crack the case if the police cannot?

I found the story interesting coming from an art school background, and dealing with the mentality of art students. Many students believed in the inane reasoning of “I am art student soon to be artist. Whatever comes forth from my hand, mouth, or mind is art.” With that art student generalization in mind I deduced the following links from vandalism to art. Crime scene is in art department studio. Vandalism is committed by insider. Insider is art student. Art students make art, especially in the art studio. In support of that conclusion I point to the following passages from the article.

The evening was marked by the students' widespread belief that the only person or people who could have committed the vandalism were those within the department, and, more than that, those with an understanding of art.

"It was the expression of someone close to us, by an artist," said studio art senior major Laura Tepper '02. "A profound act was committed. It was not vandalism as such. Vandalism does not do it justice."

Some students seemed to feel they could almost even identify with the vandal.

"This is an internal thing -- something we can all relate to as artists and as people," Lauren Reichenbach '02 said. "In a way, it's like you did it."

Senior art major Anna Macdonald '02 said she could relate to becoming "too used to expressing yourself in art. It's important to verbalize, too."

So it is true that no one in the article specifically called the vandalism art. At the same time they do not just call it a crime and leave it alone, if they had would there have been an article at all? They talk about it in a sense as if it were a performance piece or a Pollock action painting. I would have liked to have seen students saying
“Where does he get his motivation?”
” Though lacking in originality it still spoke volumes to me.”
” It was as if he was speaking directly to me.”
posted by sailormouth at 11:15 AM on February 27, 2002

I would have liked to have seen students saying
“Where does he get his motivation?”
” Though lacking in originality it still spoke volumes to me.”
” It was as if he was speaking directly to me.”

why? so they'd conform to your hollywood artist archetype?

I don't think the art students in this case are attempting to confuse the ideas of art-making and vandalism. Now, if *YOU* want to, that's another matter, and possibly one worth talking about it; but I'm sure we can avoid making assumptions about the disposition of the students in the Dartmouth art department.

That said, I'm guessing most art depts. have problems with vandalism/theft (although vandalism happens less often than theft.) There's two main reasons I can think of for this. First, and most often: people will steal work they like, if it's left out. Maybe it's because work gets thrown out anyhow, it's hard to say. Secondly, people will 'steal' (sometimes thinking it's scrap) work for materials -- canvas ain't cheap, you know, metal and plastic are incredibly expensive, and silkscreens, pens, paints, rulers, clipboards, paper -- these things all add up.

Of course, art departments are not magically free of drama and/or competition. Although I found the art practice dept at Berkeley to be significantly friendlier than the C.S. dept there, it doesn't mean that no-one ever got jealous. Often at large schools that are known for things other than their art dept, students must compete for studio space: at Berkeley, only 8 students a semester receive what is called "Honors Studio" (for which you have to be nominated by a faculty member, and then judged by staff at in an end of semester review.). These eight students are the only ones who receive studio space at all. Everyone else gets one locker to call home (the locker is approx. 2.5 feet square.) Needless to say, the honors studio spots are pretty hotly contended for, and the way the judging is set up, the whole thing ends up being a bit of popularity contest (or genre popularity contest. whatever). Although I'd be surprised if someone got so upset they felt a need to deface other's work -- as one would think that art students, in particular, would have a respect for work -- assholes abound, even in what we like to think of as non-competitive fields. Still, I don't know, most vandalism/theft at Berkeley emerged from outside of our dept. -- work that was in the communally shared, but locked, storage areas, was seldom affected.

I seriously doubt anyone undertook this vandalism as a piece -- if so, I think you'd expect (or at least hope for) something slightly more consistent; like painting EVERYTHING yellow. Or at least some sort of post-crime proclaimation.
posted by fishfucker at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2002


i suppose i should revise my former statement; i shouldn't accuse you possessing hollywood artist stereotypes.

i'm just saying let's cut art students some slack, man.
posted by fishfucker at 12:31 PM on February 27, 2002

Art students are the most worthless bunch of hacks you could ever imagine. I know because I used to be one before I graduated.

When I was an undergrad at an art school on New York City, There was a rash of theft and vandalism in the warren of studios that made up the fine arts department's senior class. Someone messed up several of my paintings one night while they were drying. When I found out, I was devastated, but I got rid of them or fixed them and I didn't tell anybody about it, because I didn't want whoever it was to get the satisfaction of notoriety. Several people there hated me because of jealousy and/or homophobia, and I knew who they were, so I kind of knew who did it. That made it a bit easier to deal with, as opposed to the Dartmouth situation of not knowing who among them was guilty of trashing everybody's work. But petty meanness and jealousy is very common in art programmes, so this kind of thing is never entirely unexpected.

That doesn't make it right. The perp should be savagely beaten with carving mallets.

Several years ago, some criminally stupid 'artist' spray painted a green dollar sign over a Kasmir Malevich painting in a museum, and called it an 'art event'. There is a ridiculous, trashy art magazine that shall remain nameless *cough*Flashart*cough* whose editor took up the cause of defending the actions of this 'artist' every month in the front of the magazine. Believe me, there are plenty of art world sleazebags who think vandalism is 'avant-garde'. Another guy spray painted Picasso's Guernica back in the seventies, and now he owns a big bucks art gallery in Manhattan. Quel surprise!
posted by evanizer at 1:07 PM on February 27, 2002

The placement of clay pieces in the sculpture studio tool room, the fact that the vandal knew minute details of where studio art majors' work was kept, the way he or she appears to have entered the studio and the choice of using yellow paint -- the color that the sculpture department uses to mark its equipment -- to mark the work all contributed to this feeling.

Is there any more info on the actual vandalism that occurred? This is all I see.
posted by modofo at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2002

Here's the vandalism.
posted by SiW at 11:37 AM on February 28, 2002

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