Dinner Without An Agenda with Laura Raicovich

Who is your audience?

The question by Laura Raicovich through the Open A.I.R. Artists Services Program for Dinner without an agenda. At first glance, the question appears simple. Shortly, it becomes intriguing and engaging. It interrogates some elemental aspects of Art and asks for an intensive reflection. The question points towards the central place of the audience in the realm of Art, as an attempt to restore the legitimate status of Art in our society and pushes the artists to think about how their message impacts on the public.

If we consider that the artist forms an independent force by conserving his integrity and has absolute freedom of expression, his work will first be guided by his artistic consciousness. This relates only to the good of the artwork and is inspired by his creative intuition as well as the desire to express his own inner truth.

However, a critical element interferes with the initial process of creation that is, the artist’s moral consciousness, which relates to his human nature. At this level, the notion of social responsibility takes a very important aspect in his mind. Indeed, Art lives in the soul of the artist as an inner energy, but the artist after all is a human being, a man that has a place in the society, interacts with all the diversity and complexity that compose the human life, and is committed as any other person living in the community. In this context, Art largely depends upon human experience and the artist, via his work, reveals the real needs of the society. Perhaps a major contribution of the artist to the community is to inspire the truth to raise the conscience of the man?

On the other hand, the society also has a certain responsibility towards Art. This involves respecting the sincere sense of the creation process and making an effort to understand the intention of the artist, as well as accepting him as a main actor in advancing social progress. Here comes the highly important role of cultural institutions, and in particular museums with their diverse communication resources: they not only create a space where public and Art can get together, but they also actively take part in the community life, by exploring the Art experience to push the boundaries of our responsibilities.

The mission of museums has evolved over the years. While they still preserve and share the human cultural heritage, they also attempt to open the elitist and intellectual ghetto of contemporary Art to the people. Museums now concentrate their efforts on being closer to the community, on trying to understand their audience’s needs and they also aim at presenting multiple views on our present reality. For all these reasons, social responsibility is an integral part of Art, with artists and cultural institutions constituting the two primary actors.

These were my reflections and impressions on the fruitful discussion we shared during this delightful meeting with Laura and selected artists. The dinner felt pretty much like a family gathering, when everyone is free to express his own opinion. Each of us had his own point of view on the nature and meaning of the art practice but at the end, we were all part of the same family.

This special encounter also pretty well reflected how the Queens Museum is genuinely and thoughtfully determined to be a pole of positive energy. Together, we are concerned with protecting the human spirit and preparing the path for future generations. Big changes may need miracles but what we can at least give as a starting point is hope.

— Hratch Arbach

Image: Intention, ink on paper 9” x 12”, 2015

This post is part of our series on Dinners Without an Agenda where guests authors react to the events they attend. Read on at this link for the rest.