process – while considering “all art is political”

Here you can see my soybeans sitting in a bowl with water, ready to soak overnight. Next to them are 2 of my deer hair brushes (hand made in Japan). They will be used after I blend the soaked soybeans, squeeze the liquid out through a cotton cloth – and have on hand a bowl of fresh soymilk. This soymilk is an optimal binder when it’s at its freshest ( the explanation of this process will be continued).

While I wait, I notice the NYT article by Holland Cotter which opens with:

The idea lingers that art can be separated from politics. But it can’t. High, low: illustrative, abstract – is imbedded in specific political histories, and direct links, however obscured, are always there…

Cotter goes on to describe a show. But what it brought to mind for me was another essay that I read last fall that concerned a huge Chinese exhibition that was all arranged to be sent from Taiwan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC during the 1990’s. It had been arranged by the most reknowned scholar on Chinese art, Wen C. Fong, who was working/teaching at Princeton University at the time. When word got out to the people in Taiwan – a population known for NOT demonstrating against their government – that historic Chinese art was going abroad, there was such a show of public upset that there was some question of whether the show would even be held. The solution was to retain several of the key paintings; this calmed the public enough to allow the show to go on – and for the art to be moved and shown.

What struck me was that the people – not the curators or the government officials – cared enough about their country’s art treasures to stage a large enough resistance to affect this huge event. I love what that says about people valuing art.