Welcome All, Here Everything is Art
By Sehba Imtiaz

May 15, 2010
In our quest for globalization, modernism and democracy, we have willingly destroyed all that is unique, individual and original. We as a society want everything and everyone to be equal; we are all the same, and so we will create things that are the same. From art to architecture to fashion, an individual cannot tell where the product was made, and what is so special about that product. We have industrialized and mass produced everything, from the smallest computer chip to the tallest tower in the world; in our world, everything is the same. We have truly realized the meaning of equality; everything is monotonous, and is identical in value to everything else.
We turn to museums for knowledge about our culture, other cultures, and history. Although it is said that museums are not an ordinary reality of the world, that it does not imitate real life and that it abandons history. It only reflects power of the country, and thus the original context of the object is lost—everything becomes art inside a museum.
Although many artists sought something new and tried to escape the boundaries of society, art, and its past history, the problem was how do you continue with creating new and innovative works of art? Or what counts as a work of art? What attributes of the uncountable objects that humans have made predispose them to being selected as “art” objects? And how are these objects transformed by display, framework, and other practices into “art” objects? The question is, how do you define art, and so what is art?
Everything has become an import of the Western media; the so called “global culture” is thus only a phantom of the media, delivering only ingredients of a new media culture controlled by the West, and presenting the “third world” culture only under the conditions of an exotic “reserve.” World culture demands a unifying frame in which also art has a place—but art was developed from a European model. It is not neutral and general, and cannot be applied to other cultures. We as a society have created the underlying pattern of assumptions and values that constitutes what art historians refer to the canon of Western art; it covers the set of works of art that are thought to embody the peaks of Western civilization and encapsulate the height of artistic excellence and aesthetic value. Thus, non-Western cultures are seen as simple and primitive.
In 1935, there was an exhibition of African sculptures mounted at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. These works of art were shown as art objects rather than ethnographic objects, and they caused a sensation in New York. And so, non-Western objects appear only when it’s appropriate for western artists, and are presented in such terms that it seems like a mythic form of life in which time has stood still.
Our idea of art is defined by the West, and the West has created rules and prescribed forms that all artists must follow in order to get their artwork placed in museums and galleries. If of course the artwork is not moulded into the prescribed forms, it cannot be accepted. And so, we have come to a point in time, where everything is art, and they all look the same, and originality is lost to us.

Minor, Vernon Hyde. Art History’s History. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2001.

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