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When is art, not art?


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#1 paigetheoracle

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 02:43 AM

When it becomes a status symbol.

Modern art isn't art - it's about what people are willing to 'pay' for it, to show how rich they are. It's not about the skill/ creativity of the artist but the wealth of the person buying it.

To me Tracey Emin's unmade bed or Damien Hirst's sheep in a tank of formaldehyde, isn't art but the equivalent of hit and run graffiti artists (Not the ones that take their time to create something like Banksy but those who are doing the equivalent of an animal urinating against a wall to say 'I've been here').

Is there anybody out there that would like to defend this 'Emperor's New Clothes' con, supposedly called 'art'?

#2 CraigD

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 05:59 PM

When it becomes a status symbol.

Modern art isn't art - it's about what people are willing to 'pay' for it, to show how rich they are. It's not about the skill/ creativity of the artist but the wealth of the person buying it.

Is there anybody out there that would like to defend this 'Emperor's New Clothes' con, supposedly called 'art'?

Sure, I'll have a go at it. :D

I’ll beginning with the parable of the “Emperor’s New Cloths”.

The object in question here is nothing, so fairly clearly can’t be defined as art per se. However, the act of convincing an emperor and all his subjects that nothing is actually something to the extent described in the story, is, I think, art, and the fictional protagonists (the two “tailors”) artists. There is actually a recognized term for this kind of artist: con artist.

… Tracey Emin's unmade bed …

My first exposure to it, as I’m not into the English art scene, was just now, via its wikipedia article. (actually titled “My Bed”)

I like it, having on more than one occasion though my messy bed was rather a work of art, and recognizing that it tells a story to which lots of viewers can relate. It’s clearly in the genre of found art, which some are reluctant to “officially” accept as “art”. As I’m more-or-less in agreement with Goethe on the definition of art (that which “entertains, edifies, and exalts the human spirit”), I think found art is art. In its extreme, its art because it provokes an outraged “this is not art” from its viewer. This doesn’t preclude me disparaging the person who purchased the installation for £150,000, even if he subsequently resells it realizing a greater financial profit than I’ve ever dreamed of.

… Damien Hirst's sheep in a tank of formaldehyde …

Again, seeing it for the first time just now via this image (actually titled “Away from the Flock”).

I’m not crazy about Hirst’s studio’s (Hurst actually has never done much if any of the actual work on pieces ascribed to him, believing that the person who sets in motion the creation of piece, not the person who fabricates it, is the artist) work, However, I saw a similar work (perhaps one of Hirst’s, perhaps not – I can’t recall it’s placarding or find reference to it), a single preserved cow cut into about a dozen many lateral slices, sandwiched in glass, and spaced so you could walk between them, that moved me profoundly. I’d term this kind of art “nontraditional taxidermy”, but can’t deny its success as art in the senses Goethe described.

It also, I think, influenced a scene I liked very much in the IMO underrated 2000 movie “The Cell”.

It’s interesting, I think, that both of the pieces Paige mentions have provoked acts of vandalism that were themselves at least minorley artistic: a couple of performance artists having a pillow fight in Emin’s installation, titled “Two Naked Men Jump Into Tracey's Bed”; and someone pouring ink into the tank of “Away from the Flock”, retitling it “Black Sheep” (and getting in pretty serious legal trouble). Such wit, the British!

I discovered in my recent skim of the subject that as of 1999, there’s an art movement, Stuckism (AKA remodernism) manifesting something close to Paige’s sentiments. For example, from their manifesto(s):

"Artists who don't paint aren't artists."

This reminds me of a less famous statement by a teacher of mine during my couple of semesters as a Fine Arts undergraduate:

"Someone who paints as badly as you shouldn’t be an art major!"

In my defense (and tooting my own horn) I could sculpt wax (for metal casting) better than anyone in the department, and as well as all but a handful of professionals I’ve known. ;) I did take his and others' advice, though and change my major.

A final recommendation, this one apropos Jackson Pollock, an early modern artist who people commonly accused of not being a “real artist”: before coming to this conclusion, try actually making your own Pollock – it’s less easy than many think. :phones:

#3 paigetheoracle

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 12:24 PM

Sure, I'll have a go at it. :)

I’ll beginning with the parable of the “Emperor’s New Cloths”.

The object in question here is nothing, so fairly clearly can’t be defined as art per se. However, the act of convincing an emperor and all his subjects that nothing is actually something to the extent described in the story, is, I think, art, and the fictional protagonists (the two “tailors”) artists. There is actually a recognized term for this kind of artist: con artist. My first exposure to it, as I’m not into the English art scene, was just now, via its wikipedia article. (actually titled “My Bed”)

I like it, having on more than one occasion though my messy bed was rather a work of art, and recognizing that it tells a story to which lots of viewers can relate. It’s clearly in the genre of found art, which some are reluctant to “officially” accept as “art”. As I’m more-or-less in agreement with Goethe on the definition of art (that which “entertains, edifies, and exalts the human spirit”), I think found art is art. In its extreme, its art because it provokes an outraged “this is not art” from its viewer. This doesn’t preclude me disparaging the person who purchased the installation for £150,000, even if he subsequently resells it realizing a greater financial profit than I’ve ever dreamed of.

Again, seeing it for the first time just now via this image (actually titled “Away from the Flock”).

I’m not crazy about Hirst’s studio’s (Hurst actually has never done much if any of the actual work on pieces ascribed to him, believing that the person who sets in motion the creation of piece, not the person who fabricates it, is the artist) work, However, I saw a similar work (perhaps one of Hirst’s, perhaps not – I can’t recall it’s placarding or find reference to it), a single preserved cow cut into about a dozen many lateral slices, sandwiched in glass, and spaced so you could walk between them, that moved me profoundly. I’d term this kind of art “nontraditional taxidermy”, but can’t deny its success as art in the senses Goethe described.

It also, I think, influenced a scene I liked very much in the IMO underrated 2000 movie “The Cell”.

It’s interesting, I think, that both of the pieces Paige mentions have provoked acts of vandalism that were themselves at least minorley artistic: a couple of performance artists having a pillow fight in Emin’s installation, titled “Two Naked Men Jump Into Tracey's Bed”; and someone pouring ink into the tank of “Away from the Flock”, retitling it “Black Sheep” (and getting in pretty serious legal trouble). Such wit, the British!

I discovered in my recent skim of the subject that as of 1999, there’s an art movement, Stuckism (AKA remodernism) manifesting something close to Paige’s sentiments. For example, from their manifesto(s):

"Artists who don't paint aren't artists."

This reminds me of a less famous statement by a teacher of mine during my couple of semesters as a Fine Arts undergraduate:

"Someone who paints as badly as you shouldn’t be an art major!"

In my defense (and tooting my own horn) I could sculpt wax (for metal casting) better than anyone in the department, and as well as all but a handful of professionals I’ve known. :) I did take his and others' advice, though and change my major.

A final recommendation, this one apropos Jackson Pollock, an early modern artist who people commonly accused of not being a “real artist”: before coming to this conclusion, try actually making your own Pollock – it’s less easy than many think. :(


Firstly Hirst is more a designer, working with craftsmen than an artist.

Emins work is laid out thoughtfully rather than just thrown together but I'd still hardly call that art.

Ask a butcher what he thinks of Hirst's work - only a bored, middle class townie, who's never been to the countryside or visited an abattoir, would find his 'sheep' in aspic original and interesting, in my opinion.

Galleries are mostly museums nowadays - real art is to be found in adverts or computer games and possibly street art. It has snob value rather than real value, aimed at shocking rather than entertaining or educating the viewer. It's a mausoleum to dead ideas, not a live art venue anymore. On top of that, if you follow the history of art it's gone from something solid to a gooey mess (The rotting corpse or drunken reveller stage - dissipated energy rather than concentrated effort).

As for Pollack - I saw him once on TV creating one of his works and could see no real skill in it - no more than a youth spitting in somebody's face to show their disgust at the way society runs, which is what it reminded me of.

With regards to The Emperor's New Clothes - this is really what it is about. Conning people into believing a pile of junk is really diamonds and gold. In other words it's not only a trick but hypnosis through suggestion that what you are seeing isn't what you are seeing but that your judgment is wrong and the hypnotist is right.:doh::):lol:

#4 Turtle

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 01:09 PM

With regards to The Emperor's New Clothes - this is really what it is about. Conning people into believing a pile of junk is really diamonds and gold. In other words it's not only a trick but hypnosis through suggestion that what you are seeing isn't what you are seeing but that your judgment is wrong and the hypnotist is right.:lol::(:)


Why such a hate for art Paige? If you don't like it, don't look at it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but everything is hard to see when you have a log in your eye.

#5 paigetheoracle

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 01:58 PM

Why such a hate for art Paige? If you don't like it, don't look at it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but everything is hard to see when you have a log in your eye.


I don't hate art - I hate this stuff mentioned because it isn't art - there is a difference and this is it. If you call this art - well, you've got your unmade bed and you can lie on it, staring at your dead sheep! (If anyone can do it, everyone can do it - so why call this art? I can find beauty in landscape, a sunset, anything really original and well thought out but this isn't it (Even as a joke on the establishment it isn't that funny).

#6 Turtle

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 04:51 PM

I don't hate art - I hate this stuff mentioned because it isn't art - there is a difference and this is it. If you call this art - well, you've got your unmade bed and you can lie on it, staring at your dead sheep! (If anyone can do it, everyone can do it - so why call this art? I can find beauty in landscape, a sunset, anything really original and well thought out but this isn't it (Even as a joke on the establishment it isn't that funny).


As I say; if you don't like it, don't view it. You have no right to determine what is art for others. :doh:

#7 Buffy

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 08:59 PM

While I have some of the same general concerns you do, I think one has to be careful about being perceived a completely subjective snob about this.

In high school I rebelled against the kind of "pseudo-art" you rail against by turning in for one of my art classes an "installation" which consisted of filling my locker with orderly stacks of Dr. Pepper cans, calling it "Dr. Pepper has no Point" (subliminal reference to Harry Nilsson's The Point).

I'll refer you to this recent screed against Dale Chihuly who's work I love and realizes such amazing beauty that I considered the review slander (as did an avalanche of letters that it generated). The article's point was that it was "mere craft"--a charge commonly leveled by many artists who have no skills but put plenty of "message" and "enlightenment" in their works.

I detest Laurie Anderson, mostly because it seems so "unartistic" to me, but it of course is *loaded* with messages that I mostly agree with. I don't mind her calling herself a performance artist, and I won't disagree with labeling her as that.

Mostly this is because this is *one* area where "elitism" truly reigns: I don't think *anyone* has the right to judge something as "art" or "not art." The market will judge whether its "worthy" or not, but to try to sit in judgment on a term as ephemeral as "art" is unsupportable, and in my mind exposes more about the viewer than the artist! :doh:

The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic, :doh:
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#8 paigetheoracle

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 01:47 AM

While I have some of the same general concerns you do, I think one has to be careful about being perceived a completely subjective snob about this.

In high school I rebelled against the kind of "pseudo-art" you rail against by turning in for one of my art classes an "installation" which consisted of filling my locker with orderly stacks of Dr. Pepper cans, calling it "Dr. Pepper has no Point" (subliminal reference to Harry Nilsson's The Point).

I'll refer you to this recent screed against Dale Chihuly who's work I love and realizes such amazing beauty that I considered the review slander (as did an avalanche of letters that it generated). The article's point was that it was "mere craft"--a charge commonly leveled by many artists who have no skills but put plenty of "message" and "enlightenment" in their works.

I detest Laurie Anderson, mostly because it seems so "unartistic" to me, but it of course is *loaded* with messages that I mostly agree with. I don't mind her calling herself a performance artist, and I won't disagree with labeling her as that.

Mostly this is because this is *one* area where "elitism" truly reigns: I don't think *anyone* has the right to judge something as "art" or "not art." The market will judge whether its "worthy" or not, but to try to sit in judgment on a term as ephemeral as "art" is unsupportable, and in my mind exposes more about the viewer than the artist! ;)

The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic, :)
Buffy


Sadly, Dale Chihuly stuff is the kind of thing I produce and even send to friends or once had exhibited as for Laurie Anderson - I'm a great fan of hers. I don't stand against ephemeral art just thoughtless 'art' that sells for loads but has little or no substance and to me, little or no impact. As for the elitism - isn't that what decides what goes into these galleries, rather than what is art itself (The pretense and conning, that requires a passport to get accepted i.e. 'He's been to art school, so must be an artist - you haven't so aren't one. Where's your certificate of bland obedience to the rules?).

By the way, the cans were trash but the title at least said something amusing - not so with regards to the unmade bed of Tracey Emin or Damien Hirst's sheep etc). To see people trying to critique stuff that has no value and 'justify' its existence, only rams home The Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome and the way everybody ignores the truth, to stay in with the in crowd (Take seriously the laughable as did the Emp's courtiers and the crowd).

#9 Buffy

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 02:24 AM

Oh even going to a top school isn't a ticket to acceptance.

In Los Angeles there is an amazing amount of disdain between the two top art schools Art Center College of Design ("commercial sellouts!") and the Otis Art Institute ("Picasso wannabees!").

Art is incredibly elitist at many levels, but those who just do unmade beds really find it difficult to keep coming up with "clever" ideas and keep their patrons fooled. While who you know does have an impact on getting into galleries, that's not the only venue for getting your art out there, and if its really good and you look for the right opportunities, someone with some actual taste is going to like it eventually.

It is all about marketing though!

And ultimately that means that for unexplainable, effemeral reasons, your art has to trigger the "I like that one" in a significant number of people in order to 1) be successful and 2) be considered "real art."

The bottom line for me is that when anyone says "that's not art," whether I agree with them about that particular work or not, I instantly react with the opinion that that person really doesn't understand art.

Art has to make that connection with some number of people, but I'll tell you, I know people who like those black-lighted velvet Elvis's and card-playing dogs. Are those not art? If it touches *somebody* isn't it art?

No art touches everyone, it's just more or fewer.

Maybe someone likes those unmade beds. Let them "waste" their money on it if they so choose. Let St. Peter refuse them entry into Heaven for their folly if it's truly egregious to like such stuff!

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep, :)
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#10 paigetheoracle

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 05:07 AM

As I say; if you don't like it, don't view it. You have no right to determine what is art for others. :)


No I don't but I do have a right to express my opinion, even if you don't agree with it - force it down your throat or stop you saying it Turt, that's different (by the way you have an unfortunate Nickname when it's abbreviated!;))

The point I'm trying to make is that this is a sign of society breaking down in my opinion - the Nazi's revolted against this in the thirties as decadence - I'm just trying to say that there is a reason for it happening and that it follows war: The science/ logic of the matter is that war requires discipline, conformism and a belief in what is happening. Art on the other hand requires rebellion against order, creativity and total disbelief in anything. We can't blame the government for the collapse of our civilization as we are its very fabric. It's our choice as to whether we continue to put effort into our own lives and therefore through that collective being, into the world or give up all effort and rest on our laurels, in a lazy heap (or tired, if you'd prefer - less emotive idea, not aimed at trying to stimulate you into action by making you feel ashamed of yourself). I prefer to think of myself as the little boy pointing out the Emperor's naked, not dressed in the best but 'invisible' finery in the world.

I see Stockhausen with his ten minutes of silence, fashion that makes the wearer look like a clown (Fine if you wear it with this in mind but not if you take it seriously), botox and plastic surgery that makes you look uglier than your natural self (but hey, it's original!). Then there is the more disturbing effect of Social Services in the UK, that attack easy targets in the same way that violent yobs attack the disabled, letting the really vicious parents that they are too scared to tackle, literally get away with murder i.e. kill their own children. Whistle-blowers are sacked or ostracized and junior staff that tried to warn senior staff of the situation are made scape goats and sacked.

This is why this thread is more than about art and it is a sad and sick reflection of our present society. ;)

#11 paigetheoracle

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 05:19 AM

Oh even going to a top school isn't a ticket to acceptance.

In Los Angeles there is an amazing amount of disdain between the two top art schools Art Center College of Design ("commercial sellouts!") and the Otis Art Institute ("Picasso wannabees!").

Art is incredibly elitist at many levels, but those who just do unmade beds really find it difficult to keep coming up with "clever" ideas and keep their patrons fooled. While who you know does have an impact on getting into galleries, that's not the only venue for getting your art out there, and if its really good and you look for the right opportunities, someone with some actual taste is going to like it eventually.

It is all about marketing though!

And ultimately that means that for unexplainable, effemeral reasons, your art has to trigger the "I like that one" in a significant number of people in order to 1) be successful and 2) be considered "real art."

The bottom line for me is that when anyone says "that's not art," whether I agree with them about that particular work or not, I instantly react with the opinion that that person really doesn't understand art.

Art has to make that connection with some number of people, but I'll tell you, I know people who like those black-lighted velvet Elvis's and card-playing dogs. Are those not art? If it touches *somebody* isn't it art?

No art touches everyone, it's just more or fewer.

Maybe someone likes those unmade beds. Let them "waste" their money on it if they so choose. Let St. Peter refuse them entry into Heaven for their folly if it's truly egregious to like such stuff!

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep, ;)
Buffy


I never knew we had anything in common until I read your last post (replied to).

Maybe I am a snob when it comes to art - the stuff mentioned doesn't touch me and in the case of Stockhausen (my last post) or a frame round a blank wall, or a plinth for an invisible statue - how can 'nothing' move you? If it's the title of the work, that's literature not art. Only a fool, who's fooling himself, can fool another fool.:doh: Define (limit) things how you want and I'll define them how I want:eek::);)

By the way 'Ephemeral' doesn't have two 'F's' unless you're swearing about it!;)

#12 pamela

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:42 AM

hello Paige,
Contemplating the framed blank wall, allows you to see beyond the nothingness into yourself. Your dreams, ideas, and thoughts, become the somethingness; the art of your mind. To truly appreciate and enjoy art, the bias and opinions in your mind must be let go, in order to "see" what is before you. I have seen much, that has raised and eyebrow or two, but not everything moves me. When I was in my early twenties, I purchased a painting from a local artist.I was in school, working, and barely able to make ends meet, but I had to have this painting. I would stare at it for hours while contemplating my life. Visitors to my apartment were unaffected by it and thought me rather foolish for wasting the money. This piece reflected my soul and apparently no one elses. The painting is long since gone now due to moving damage, but it still remains in my mind. I was viewing one of our members albums of pictures taken from the Hubble and found a picture that resembled this painting.Decades later, I am still moved beyond words although now,have a little better understanding of why.

#13 Thunderbird

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 11:45 AM

To me art is something I do to express a feeling that needs to be captured. This is the intent, but you're not thinking rationally at first you are caught by it. The fun part is the merging of a medium with the subject and the rules. If you can lose yourself in this creative process while maintaining the rational rules of composition its a very satisfying experience . Its also very important to me that the finished subject can be shared as art. I love it when someone say’s “ You Made That !”

#14 Turtle

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 12:35 PM

The Fox and the Grapes
Æsop


One hot summer's day a Fox was strolling through an orchard
till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which
had been trained over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench
my thirst," quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and
a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a
One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again
and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to
give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I
am sure they are sour."


It is easy to despise what you cannot get.



#15 Buffy

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 01:38 PM

...or a frame round a blank wall, or a plinth for an invisible statue - how can 'nothing' move you?

Oh gosh, take a look! :cheer:

Seriously, the absence of something is indeed a statement, and in these cases the statement is contextual. My Dr. Pepper cans was a statement, it even had some craft (they were neatly stacked with logo's aligned much better than the typical post-race NASCAR driver interview)! But the very fact that it was both an accurate example of such "pointless" and "frivolous" art work both made the statement that it's worthless while being what it was saying was worthless, to the point that those who valued such stuff would praise it!

You got it if you knew the title, so:

If it's the title of the work, that's literature not art.

Literature is art! Why draw artificial distinctions between "kinds" of art? Is music not art because it's really poetry? Is HipHop not music because the words are not sung?

Why do any of these distinctions matter?

Only a fool, who's fooling himself, can fool another fool.:doh:

You can say that again! :hihi:

By the way 'Ephemeral' doesn't have two 'F's' unless you're swearing about it!:evil:

Oh that's simply my latest work of art, entitled "Buffy's Brain-Finger Communication Breakdown At 1AM".... :phones:

It's always the same, I'm having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane, :D
Buffy

#16 paigetheoracle

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 08:00 AM

As people still don't get what I'm on about - here's something else thrown into the spectrum to clarify things. Watching 'Strictly Come Dancing' on UK TV, I was struck by the beauty of the performance by Rachel and Vincent. It was so powerful that it nearly brought tears to my eyes and held my attention captive. Then on came John Sargeant, who plodded around the stage but was voted in by the public over the judges, which meant a decent couple had to leave the competition in order for him to stay in. His personality won over the public not his performance as a dancer. In other words, the art of his dancing was attrocious but his charisma got him votes (The Cuddly Bear factor).

If I wanted somebody to paint my house, I would want a professional that might be laconic but got on with the job, not a talkative conman that couldn't even paint his fingernails: If you're paying for a craftsman, you want somebody that is going to do a good enough job that the house doesn't fall down around you of burst into flames from faulty electrical work or flood because of poor plumbing, wouldn't you? Or maybe not? Perhaps you'd like a pretentious idiot that robs you blind and you have to take to court because he doesn't have the faintest idea what he is doing (George Bush) or is just out to rob you blind?

Put this practically it's a question of quality (depth of thought over shallowness): The more you put in, the more you get out. These pieces of art stink from this perspective because they are no more than the wanderings of a child compared to the adults of the past and occasionally creative individuals of the present. This supposed art is not about art but pretense (As they say in The Church of the Subgenius "Don't let them pull the wool over your eyes - pull the wool over your own eyes"). This is lazy effort, unworthy of regard in my opinion.

#17 Thunderbird

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 09:20 AM

What about this... It is art, but would you hang it in you're house. Would you spend money for it.

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