Week 7 Assignment Post

Here is what you need to do by class on Monday:

Read pages 59-96 in the Fusco book; read the Nick Zangwill article, Art and Audience (follow the link to JSTOR); post four links on your del.icio.us page; REMEMBER THAT CLASS MEETS IN THE DANCE STUDIO ON MONDAY; post at least two thoughtful comments on the readings; and if you are feeling sassy, peruse some of the other audience-relevant articles with links below.

Here are some considerations:

  • What is your response to Jesusa Rodriguez’s theories of humor, and do you see these claims translated into her work?
  • How do you think Tito Vasconcelos’ characters, especially Tatiana Illhuicamina, translate differently to an American audience than to his community?
  • Distill Zangwill’s main thesis and detail your reaction to it, i.e., are you persuaded by his argument, do you accept his grounding claims, and so forth. Why or why not?

Other writings on audience:

Shaping Belief: The Role of Audience in Visual Communication, by Ann C. Tyler

Casting the Audience, by Natalie Crohn Schmitt



Filed under Assignment Post, Readings

27 responses to “Week 7 Assignment Post

  1. Trinityblk

    While I understand the use of humor in performance and other works I do not know if they achieve the underlying goal of the artist. To incorporate audience participation , as Jesusa does, in an interesting approach to leaving a more lasting impression on the audience. At the same time I could see where audience participation may rob the artist of getting their goal/opinions/protests clearly across. Unless the audience is lead to make only certain actions/answers a performance can be unsuccessful in the artists mind.

    On the flip side humor can be used to make questionable actions/performances seem more expectable and thus able to continue. Does the audience truly grasp the meaning/intentions of the artist or do they only remember that the performance/action was “humorous”?

  2. Trinityblk

    I feel that Tito’s performances/characters would be considered as “trendy” comical item. It seems that American over-uses the comical performance similar to Tito’s works (SNL, Parody movies, political cartoons etc) that his work would translate very well in our culture and then just as quickly be sent to late night adult comedy shows lineups.

  3. thehankfuldread

    after reading the article on Jesusa Rodriguez, it reaffirmed my curiosity of the notion of “empowerment” in art. many feminist artists choose to do pieces nude, in performance, and the fine arts. it has always been interesting to see how with the slightest change of perspective, or attitude, the meaning of a work of art can be totally changed. nudity and empowerment usually go hand in hand, in a lot of situations, but nudity is also (the majority of the time, especially in the media) used to show some sort of vulnerability or objectification. i feel that if an artist doesn’t get it quite right, then the ball is dropped, and the dialogue turns sour.

  4. thehankfuldread

    as for Tito Vasconcelos, i feel that his work definitely is greatly accepted in America, and i would say it would be more accepted here. i feel that the US has a very high tolerance, if not love, for comedy, especially comedy that in most places in the world, would be considered greatly offensive or taboo. the most popular shows and movies in the US are usually the mockeries and parodies of subjects that are otherwise hard to talk about, due to the politics, emotions, or other burdens that come with subjects such as homosexuality, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. i find the reactions of other cultures to these types of performances very interesting.

  5. ladywood

    I love Jesusa’s comment on page 65 on cabaret and how as the crisis grows, so does the cabaret. I find this to be so true, because music and song always put a smile on your face. People have a need for happiness and they will seek it out.
    Right after getting over the flu and before taking the ‘acute’ turn with mono, I went out for birthday party at the Broadmoor Tavern. There was a dance floor and live band and when the birthday boy asked me to dance, I could hardly say no (don’t worry, my fiance was fine with it). Upon reaching the dance floor, I discovered that he was a near professional, classically trained dancer, and though he had to drag me around the floor before showing me some steps, I had a brilliant time, and it was the first time I had laughed in weeks. (His toes recovered.)
    Jesusa is completely right in her humored observation of song and dance.

  6. ladywood

    I find the play, “The Council of Love”, to be quite offensive. I understand that parading around in a g-string and wings as the Devil is sure to be exciting for some people and seen as art for others, but the idea of AIDS and Jesus being saved from it because he used a condom makes my skin crawl. For Jesusa to desecrate the greatest, purest figure of all time really unnerves me. I can see why the play was banned, even though it was probably mostly for the nudity. I don’t poke fun at your religion, I ask you do the same for me.

  7. kkomaenge

    Jesusa Rodriguez’s work relates with natural so “nude” that work for natural because human was born they not wear anything. Also, her work has meaning. However, I do not understand “humor” in her work. The audience might dislike it and I think the nude that might mentions salty humor to people.

  8. kkomaenge

    I think Tito Vasconcelos’ performance is very successful because Tito lived different country and learned different culture also, used different language. However, Tito’s performance works for Americans’. They understand what Tito’s doing even thought Tito’s words transfer from other people. I think it does not matter for sexual or other. I think important thing is how people are receiving Tito’s performance.

  9. Cheri Soulia

    What I think is one of the most interesting things about Zangwill’s argument is that “we have no reason to think that the content of an artist’s intentions must involve an audience.” I think I do agree with this statement because you don’t need other individuals to know the intentions of an artist…the artist knows them. However, the thing that makes art, well art, is that others often get to view it and it has an influence because the artist ir anybody can hide behind a work of art and make a statement without actually making one because technically the viewer is making their own conclusions.
    Another thing that Zangwill brings up that I think is very contoversial and interesting is that audience should not be addressed in the theory of the essential nature of art. He says that there are “counterexamples” to works of art that have no audience. The one that I think is very interesting is sketches or blueprints of a final work of art that are eventually thrown away and never seen. However, even though their is no other person who witnesses these works of art other than the artist, it is questionable that the artist could be the audience. I am a little torn however, because it kind of goes back to the old question: If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one was there, did it really happen? Or does it really matter?

  10. cleasure

    I find most of Martinez’s performances to be humorous and effective in getting their highly political statements across without directly mentioning the issues. What I love most about her performances is the use of her stage and props as characters which interact freely with the actors on the stage. My favorite use of a prop was in “La Diana casadera” when Diana wears the Palace of Fine Arts as a wedding dress, thus domesticating herself.

  11. cleasure

    Every issue that Zangwill addresses represents its own neverending argument about the definition of art, intention, and audience. Throughout his consideration of each argument, it seemed that he never reached a conclusion, so his essay served to illustrate the point that these issues are entirely subjective. In my opinion, there is always an audience and an intention. An artist must be present to create art and even if no one else witnesses a piece of art, the artist is the audience. Even if there is no specific intention in creating a piece of art, this lack of intention could itself be intention.

  12. desibrink

    I think humor does have a purpose in performance. Sometimes when the audience is lectured about issues their natural response seems to become defensive or automatically ignore things. Humor is a way to sort of shove points down people’s throats in a nicer way. It engages people, interests them, and it’s a good way to make the audience hear out what the message is behind the performance.
    There are sometimes when humor doesn’t seem to work, obviously, there are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, such as when people are deeply mourning a loss.

  13. desibrink

    Zangwill’s argument about the audience and it’s ‘role’ in artwork was a tough mental cookie to chew. It’s hard to come to a conclusion since the end Zangwill didn’t really have any definitive answers. From what I can be sure of is that the art comes first, than the audience. There may be some consideration to who will view the art when it’s made, but it cannot completely shape the ideas and messages that make up it’s foundations, otherwise it will lose it’s integrity.

    I thought Cheri Soulia’s comment was really thought inducing. Could an artist be the audience of their own art? Are they ever considered part of the audience in the first place? When they look on with everyone else, are they separate at what they are looking at because they created it?

  14. proverbs3v18

    Since the “audience” will take whatever they will from a work, is it necessary for the artist to convey a message or intent? Certainly, intent is necessary for the artist, but not necessarily for the work to have art status…Think back to Manzoni – one can think anything is “art”.

    “…we want to know whether art status can be sustained without an audience…”

    No. There must be someone to think about it. I think therefore I am? Well I exist, but no value is ascribed to me until I or someone else thinks about me – the same is true for art, is it not? Until you think about it – until YOU give it meaning/value, then it just exists without any label. Before we had language and the need to define things, they just existed without any value. Like plants and animals and their natural order (which is in flux – things going extinct and the food-chain switching it up), we did not know the value of these things until we studied and named them – till we ascribed them value – before that they simply existed independently of our machinations. Art is like that too – they have the intrinsic qualities as Mr. Zangwill states, but they do not have “art-status” – merely the potential to be so – through us.

  15. heidirides

    Zangwill thinks we must first determine what art is in (to an audience) order to determine its relation to an audience. His theory (from an audience) is based on the assumption that “no intention, equals no work of art.” That (audience) premise stinks. It’s completely vague. So ANY (audience, audience) intent of desirable properties qualifies something as a work of art. The dog intended to poop (for an audience) on the grass rather than the sidewalk, behold, the next big artist! Many people who have been labeled as artists, whether professional, outsider or otherwise, and had no intent for an audience (audience), or for their creation to be considered a work of art (insert audience). I found this article akin to a merry-go-round, he went around and around and ended up where he started.

  16. proverbs3v18

    “Does the audience truly grasp the meaning/intentions of the artist or do they only remember that the performance/action was “humorous”?”

    It’s almost like marketing strategy – if they can get you hooked on it using a catchy phrase or a pretty face/picture, then they have a chance at success because you are thinking about it. If you are thinking about it, you might even talk to others about it, and thus a discussion would form that would likely touch on the meaning.

    In response to Cheri, cleasure, and desibrink, I do firmly believe the artist is the first and most important “audience” member. When I create work, it is first and foremost for myself. Anything or anyone after that is extra – like a show, buying/selling – that’s not what I create work for, and it’s not at the forefront of my mind while I’m working on it. As to the tree falling, perhaps it doesn’t matter to some of us, but it has some effect on the ecosystem; animals’ homes, etc., however small. The artist may choose to be part of the “audience” when viewing their work, but the knowledge of the creation is always there, so they still have that separate plane of existence that gives them special insight.

  17. heidirides

    Jesusa Rodriguez tries to utilize humor to affect a change in attitudes and perceptions. I think she succeeds. She parodies and jests using a variety of traditional practices reflecting her complex heritage. She believes that with humor people can be exposed to ideologies different from their own in a manner that is non-threatening, while at the same time reproaching and condemning their behaviors or beliefs under the guise of comedy. I think it does work because she motivates people into action whereas they were complacent before.

  18. proverbs3v18

    That is too funny Heidi. But unfortunately, people these days can and sometimes do argue that the pooping dog (and other “artists” who do such things) is “art”/the next great “artist”.

  19. Isaiah D

    Rodriguez’s work is spattered with wit and humor all over the place, from the name of her company “Divas” down to the messages they deliver and how they deliver them. Humor is a great vehicle to deliver hard to talk about subjects because it addresses both sides of the problem, for example, she tackles the issue of femininity by showing stereotypical views of how society addresses it then jumps to the other side and shows how that kind of viewing is narrow minded and often times false.

  20. Isaiah D

    Tatiana Illhuicamina in my opinion would be viewed as a left wing cast off like somebody you would see at a gay rights parade. His character is providing knowledge or information about gay stereotypes and lifestyles to an audience of rather uneducated people. I think that here in the states we are more accepting and knowledgeable about gay persons and their lifestyles. His performance would be viewed more as a comedy show here rather than an educational piece like it was there.

  21. kait

    Jesusa Rodriguez uses humor in most of her performance in order to best reach her audience to her intended purposes behind her performances. She uses music, costumes, props, etc in order to connect with the audience. Throughout her career as a performance artist the humor has left an impression on her audiences. She address social, gender, and various other issues in our world today. She speaks on feminism and gender crossing but through a light hearted manner as to reach the audience. It has been very successful. I personally react positivly to humor but I can see how it can wiegh down the importance of the message.

  22. kait

    “Art has nothing essential to do with audience.” Is this true or not? Zangwill seems to be in agreement with the fact that art is for art’s sake, not for the sake of the audience’s perception and reaction to it. He holds many theories regarding this but overall seems to lack a definitive answer except to say that the audience is not necessary. I find it to be true that the audience is not needed, but where would we be in performance art, or ANY art, if there was no one to receive it. Reactions are what some performance artist bases their performances on. There is a need an audience in order for the message to be received.

  23. molly

    “It’s funny ‘cuz its true…..”isnt that what makes a comedian succesful? In comedy and humor, what we understand as humorous is something we can relate to or see the truth behind it. Thats what makes the Simpson’s, and Rodriquez’s work succesful (Not that I should be comparing Rodriquez to the Simpsons). Her use of humor opens up the issues she tackles, without having to face the harshness of reality and gives the audience the choice to take it seriously or not. IN response to Thehankfuldread’s post, I think the UK has a much more tolerant response to vulgar and offensive comedy than the US (ie Benny Hill…), which allows me to believe Gilbert George’s success is assisted by and derived from British humor.

  24. molly

    I agree with ladywood that the play “The Council of Love” is quite offensive, and I think it was meant to be that way. I would have left during the show very early on, had I been in the audience, for the same reasons. However, I think that is an aspect of humor that an artist takes into account, or should, especially if it is poking fun at very important cultural and religious figures. The play was a drastic way to approach an issue, or a few issues that Jesusa must have known would turn off people like myself and ladywood completely, which I have no doubt was part of the intent.

  25. cmndrkeen

    I’ve been having a hard time deciding what I think about Zangwill’s idea that art can have nothing to do with an audience. I’ve always assumed that art was made to be experienced by an audience or that, like the-one-balloon-“artist’s breath”-guy seemed to imply, an audience decides whether something is art, whether it was intended to be art or not.

    I supppose there are instances and examples like the ones he poses that could represent situations in which an audience is irrelevant. But I think we can still argue against them. Perhaps I draw a picture or write a poem to vent some feelings, but no one else is meant to see it except for me. Then, though, wouldn’t I be the audience?

    It remains a debate though. If a- painter paints a picture -in the middle of a forest, and there’s no one there to- see it, is it art?

  26. cmndrkeen

    I would like to comment on just one of Jesusa’s performances. As I was reading the article on her, one instance stuck with me and made me like her work. As she was portraying Massieu, and essentially criticizing him, and his daughter who was attending the show objected, Jesusa let the woman come on stage and defend him. That marks Jesusa as, though she has opinions and is not shy about voicing them, she is open to other arguments and lets others disagree.

  27. elpetty84

    In Zangwill’s article he brings up some very interesting points; one being that “art has nothing essential to do with an audience”, which i completely disagree with. In my way of thinking every performer needs an audience whether it be a piece of art or a stage performance, to give the artists feedback, the artist can see what kind of reactions or what kind of emotions they are bringing out from their audience. i think the main purpose of an artist putting their work on display for an audience to enjoy. He gave some audience theories. There were some that talked about how art can express emotions, how works of art are regarded by an audience, or pieces of art can carry intention. Then he states that there to no reason to think that the content of an artist’s intentions must involve an audience. He spent almost the entire time going back and forth as to who was right, the counterexamples and the information that he provided or the theorists themeselves. He was convinced that the audience theories had things backwards, when i see it just the oppposite way.

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