A few weeks ago I stumbled into the PARA / Site gallery in Sheung Wan just as Japanese artist Tatsumi Orimoto, also known as “the bread man,” was introducing his work.
The artist gave a short talk that sounded almost apologetic. He seemed to say: hey, people recognize me for this, and give my work attention because of this, so I have to keep on doing it. What he does is tie baguettes to people’s heads and then parades them around in public.
But does this type of performance gratify the insular art community at the expense of the general public?[photopress:Bread_man_Orimoto_art.jpg,full,pp_image]
Though I understand the nature of Orimoto’s work, and agree that it has artistic merit, unleashing it on the unwitting may actually alienate the average person from art and reinforce the stereotype of art as frivolous, impractical and crazy.[photopress:Tatsumi_Orimoto_bread_art.jpg,full,pp_image] What’s the matter? Having second thoughts??? [photopress:bread_man_art_Hong_Kong.jpg,full,pp_image]
The reason this bothers me is because the city’s art institutions only seem to be reaching a small segment of the population. Instead of breaking down walls to encourage art in the city, they sometimes seem to be putting them up.
One of my main criticisms of art institutions here is that they often fail at marketing the wonder and beauty of art to the average citizen.
In contrast, individuals and private companies in Hong Kong appear to understand how to market art much more effectively. The recent Carrie Chau exhibition at Times Square for example, was a massive success. The reaction of the crowds proved that the general public has both an interest in art and a sense of art appreciation.
Companies such as Agnes B., Louis Vuitton, Diesel, and Nike have championed local artists and brought interesting shows to Hong Kong. Likewise, individuals such as Edison from CLOT, and T.K. from Milk Magazine, have brought exciting new talent to the city and made art cool.
Why haven’t the city’s art institutions been leading? Perhaps government funding adds a level of bureaucracy that saps their zeal and inhibits their passion.
Or could it be that the institutions haven’t yet caught on to what art is to modern people? Maybe it’s not a question of lowering standards and dumbing things down, but understanding how art has evolved and comes in new forms.[photopress:Tatsumi_Orimoto_bread_man.jpg,full,pp_image]