One Man Biennial

Shea Hembrey was dissatisfied with his experience at contemporary art biennials. So he decided to make his own event. And all of the art(ists) in it…

Using two basic criteria and a recurring thread of responding to natural phenomena, Hembrey created 100 artists, each with individual bios and bodies of work, to show in his biennial. His first criteria was the grandma test. Could he explain a piece of work to his grandma concisely and clearly? This criterion speaks to the desire for a point of access to the work, a place to engage with the work,  just as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. When just about anything can be considered “art”, it is this conceptual relationship that augments the existence of the work and the viewer’s experience of it. 

The second was the three H’s: head (the intellectual aspect, concept), heart (emotional sensiblity), and hands (strong craftsmanship). As a person trained in printmaking, craft is an extremely weighted aspect. And craftsmanship doesn’t mean “arts and crafts” — craftsmanship means, in one part, careful and mindful attention to your materials and how you use them. Your attentiveness to your work translates to the attentiveness your viewers should be giving to the work.

The video seems to be generating all kinds of back-and-forth angst on the comment stream on TED about the “seriousness” of “real” art or the mindless flippancy of attention-span-less consumers. Beyond all that, the center of the video, for me, is the sense of play and boundlessness. Make, think, create, try, play, share.

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