Ethical and PostConceptual Philosophy

 

In the 21st Century Art cannot escape being a sociological object. Art objects can attempt to escape the constraints of concrete reality, but they cannot escape the qualities of the artist that created them. On a personal note creating work is a ritual. Creating objects is a ritual and a performance that gives meaning to me while I am alive. I struggle hour by hour, day by day, with contextual meaning, ideas, expression, and the ironic immutability of change.


I use my labor to create the work. From a personal ethical standpoint I have always felt that Labor is a state to be valued, and not to be exploited by any society. My predominant objection to the late 20th Century conceptual movement has been the underlying exploitation of labor that many practitioners employ. Looking back at it now and how it continues as ‘Factories’ of ‘original’ art making, I see it as the worst of capitalistic exploitation. I am a fervent believer of Capitalism but the type of capitalism that is good is the kind that is based on the small individual enterprise that rewards the laborers without exploitation. Systems that are hugely pyramidal with predominantly the pinnacle receiving the rewards at the cost of the larger masses below them are unethical. Economic systems such as Communism are just as bad as the monopolistic capitalist systems with an elite pinnacle…Communism just has a mafia type totalitarian elite at the top with no freedom of speech and ideas. Systems like the totalitarianism of Communism fool the masses into thinking that wealth is being fairly distributed but in reality it is not. Any form of economic system that does not allow Democracy is morally corrupt. In light of the present world economic picture it is even more imperative that the Conceptual art world be responsibly aware of what it is doing in its practice and should reflect moral support for labor. How many times I have heard remarks in art that the idea is more important than the labor used to create it as an excuse to exploit other artist’s hands. That is why for my whole practice as an artist I value the hand as the mind equally. The conceptual world of the 20th century increasingly and routinely separated the mind from the hand. This belief of the supremacy of the mind over the hand was regressive in that it mirrored the philosopher Rene Descartes' (1596-1630) mind-body separation. The hand is the mind and as such is not separate. As an artist I use the framework of ideas and I do not divorce the mind from the body.


On a broader scale beyond the personal, the act of creating artistic works aids humans in their relationship to reality and meaning. Homo sapiens ability to make connections has enabled the species to become survivors in evolution and some of the power of art lies in this ability to enable connections. These connections go beyond what the artist intended and what the politically and economically powerful in society sanction. These connections facilitate cultural exchange and dialogue when language alone is ineffective. Art is an excellent medium for (intra and inter) cultural exchange because it allows the viewer to become part of the dialogue and expand meaning beyond the artist's intentions. It is a medium through which things that are intangible and not connected by the concrete, have a chance to come into human awareness. This interweaving of cultures via objects has always existed. Cultural cannibalism, slowly over time, negates the dominance of Empires. Whether placed in political terms of power relations or in philosophical, sociological, or biological arenas, the ‘framing’ is not important. The end result, being the evolution of culture and societies, will be the same.


Another presently popular contemporary conceptual dialogue is the quality of celebrity itself. The expression of art being predominantly the cult of spectacle and celebrity has become ubiquitous and boring at best. As artists we should contribute to contemporary dialogue and create work that has integrity and goes beyond the celebrity obsession of our society. This dialogue is important, as our society is drowning with the superficiality of reality media shows and the cult of celebrity is destroying our ability to think for ourselves. I strongly believe that ultimately art is about absolute personal freedom so anything is valid. Yet my own bias is that we should be responsible contributors to culture, not merely by criticizing, but actually living our lives as role models and creating objects that go beyond the superficial and the spectacle. In the end, we must remember that Art is about freedom and as such, Art should have no required dogmas as its pre-requisite for validation. Art education has become too controlling of ideas as a pre-requisite for validation, but that is another contemporary can of worms that I will not discuss at this time.
For those of you that know me you are well aware of my reservations with critical theory. I found a wonderful article that summarized many of my concerns with critical theory in this American Scholar article.


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Natacha Villamia Sochat was born in New York City. She grew up in La Habana, Cuba and in NYC where she attended the Bronx HS of Science. She worked as a professional photographer in Berlin, Germany including freelance work for "Berlin Today" magazine. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Boston University (BA Biology with distinction, minor art history) and received her MD degree from Boston University School of Medicine. Her post-baccalaureate studies at Brandeis University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston included painting, printmaking, photography, and video. She received her MFA in Studio Arts from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 

She has taught at numerous places including School fo the Museum of Fine Arts (painting), the New Hampshire Institute of Art (drawing and printmaking), and was Master Teacher in Studio Arts at the St. Paul's School Advanced Studies Program (Concord, NH). She is an interdisciplinary thinker, curator, and artist including painting, printmaking, bookmaking, performance, video, drawing, and photography. Her work has won numerous awards and has been in exhibitions throughout the United States. She is a member of the College Art Association and has served on the Board of the Woman's Caucus for Art (NH), including President WCA NH, Vice- President, and webmaster.

 

In 2009 Natacha founded NKG (a Boston contemporary art gallery) along with Kathy Halamka. NKG (NK Gallery LLC) gives voice to the pluralism that continually enriches contemporary art and ideas. NKG's mission is to further contemporary art by giving equal value to the mind and the hand. NKG supports artists by giving time and space to exhibit work. It is important for art to embody not only ideas, but also wonder, resonance and the integrity of the human hand.

 

From early childhood she has been passionate about art and science and to the present keeps these worlds connected in her work. Her interests include philosophy, theoretical physics, ethics, critical thinking, biological systems, and virtual gaming. Natacha is bilingual from birth and is the oldest child of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents. Her father Mario was involved in the Cuban Revolution and this experience as a child has influenced not only her life and her view of culture but her work as well.

 

 

The Hand is the Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are so Familiar with our Life that we Become Blind to the Actual Experience

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