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Mind the gap.

To the Editor:

Regarding Jan Tumlir's thoughts on "those famous relations between fine art and so-called common culture" [Letters, January 2004]: Art is not the only subject to find itself isolated from the mainstream audience. Countless subjects have become so specialized as to make discussion across the gaps difficult to impossible. (I am reminded of the articles "Recent Thoughts on the Two Cultures" [1962], by C.P. Snow, and "Can Poetry Matter?" [1991], by Dana Gioia.) Math and science are being lost on the youth of today; literature is fruitfully discussed only in tighter and tighter intellectual circles. Not to mention our "leaders," politicians bred and groomed specifically for politics. Even in criticism, we are still faced mostly with creatively worded intra-art references and undying efforts at categorization.


Contemporary art is in a position to draw from and combine these otherwise discrete subcultures, ideally causing it to rival, sometimes causing it to be confused with, pop culture. Art can move across real-world cultural boundaries, and criticism likewise needs to project itself beyond its current scope. Since our cultures are so rooted in language, roles are reversed: Criticism is the catapult, art is the stone. The goal should be to find the meaning, not the category.

--Jason Randolph, Baltimore
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Randolph, Jason
Publication:Artforum International
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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