Art, Artist and Every Day By Pooja Kalita

‘Every day’!! a word so constant,ceaseless,endless part of our existential reality. Filled up with at times, banal and yet at times exhilarating happenings…our day-to-day, our routine –everyday…and if this everyday is so profound in our life, how can we not give it the importance in the passions we pursue; in the art we create.
‘Everyday’ is a concept which emerged as a concept in cultural studies and later a critical category for analysis in 1980’s. Thus, it emerged as category shifting from a concept depicting banal, monotonous activities of regularity to a critical dimension for appraisal and the revolutionary potential it carries within. Art, in this concept of everyday has the latent capacity to subvert, to protest, and to raise a voice. For example, the process of quilt making by women in Bangladesh engulfed within the dullness of their lives raise a voice of resistance to the domination and discrimination they face in their day-to-day lives. The designs they make in these quilts, indicates their marginalized position in society yet it is about their own means of struggle and survival. The quilt making exercise also depicts an alteration of the elitist idea of art in the transfer of location of the process of art making.
At the juncture of post-modernism, the art world was flooded with the works from non-western artists, criss-crossing the parameters of identity, politics,society,personal-private,individual and the global. In terms of place, it made a shift from studio-based production of art to the everyday routinized places. An artist could now create anywhere beyond the studio. He/she could create a piece of art in on the streets as well as the kitchen. Papastergiadis, points out two main issues through his idea of everyday – one, the idea of location and two, the idea of production itself. The Modernist view had an homogenous idea of art , reifying the work and mystifying the context. An artist’s work travel; across time ,space and distance, transforming itself from the mind of the artist to the psyche of the audience who views it. Thus, the place-space dichotomy have been an important subject to be discussed and debated. From creation to exhibition , this issue persists throughout and how the idea of everyday itself takes shape in this context is a matter to be pondered upon.
The local framework which is an integral part of our everyday lived reality ,is incorporated in different form in this era of globalization. Complexities arises as Appadurai mentions – the era of globalization has led to cultural ‘hybridization’ , a sync of the local with the global. However, Susan Saskia is of the view that globalization has brought the countries more closer to their counterparts than to their regions. Artists use materials from their own local contexts as well from the broader globalized media culture. Art now possess the power to deal with not only local issues specific to ones own context but also merge itself with larger issues of identity, survival, dignity – a concern for entire humanity. They protest and raise these concerns highlighting the incompetence of the governments to address them in the local as well as at a global level. Art can be a mode of emancipation from the hegemonic dominance in the larger context as can be in the micro reality of ‘everyday’ as Lefebvre views it. Certeu refers to the tendency of the minority; from their subaltern positions to challenge the authoritarian influences of majority modernist view of art. The subalterns can use it a tool of counter-argumentation. He also says that just as in a rented apartment with its given space ,an individual has the agency to convert it to his own space ,such is the scope with art practices. It is a weapon , an instrument with the individual emerging from his/her everyday life. As Picasso puts it – “What do you think an artist is? …he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” Thus, in the banality of everyday, a dissent emerges…

Pooja Kalita , M.A. 2nd year, Department of Sociology, South Asian University


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