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Bobbie Salthouse Art Blog

Take It Out of Context

by bsalthouse , December 13, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: David Byrne, Frank Bruni, Marcel Duchamp, assemblage, collage, found objects, small paintings

These days this simple message pervades my consciousness: Enjoy everyday pleasures. Appreciate what's around you and don't take it for granted. Really LOOK and you will find newness, mystery, and something to delight you.

I think these things a lot of the time, but right now these ideas seem to be all around me. Frank Bruni today on the op-ed page of the New York Times (Dec. 13) talks about how he just realized on a recent trip to Rome that he hadn't fully appreciated the beauty of certain places when he lived there for two years. David Byrne in the film True Stories, a favorite film of mine, says essentially the same thing at the end of the movie: he likes to go to new places so he can fully experience them and he likes to forget them so he can find their magic again when he returns.

It's inevitable that after a while we take for granted things and places we see every day. Art encourages us to defy that complacency . It forces you to look, REALLY look, whether you're creating it, or viewing it. And when you actively look, you see things in new ways.

I remember hiking up a mountain in the summer a few years ago and finding a brand new snow shovel hidden behind a tree. It was fun to imagine how it landed up deep in the woods and why anyone would think to take it there. The snow shovel became magical because it was so out context. It also made me wonder what other surprises might be out there if I look carefully and maybe stray off the path a bit. I thought of that shovel again the other day when I was at the Yale Museum of Art and saw a similar snow shovel dangling from the ceiling in a gallery--one of Marcel Duchamps' Readymades. In other words, context makes the big difference. Just taking one ordinary thing out of context might be enough to change eveything and make your world new again.



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