100: Randall Szott

Do you need to distinguish art from life?

I keep finding myself thinking/feeling that all of the things that distinguish an art project from some other thing/experience in the world are all of the things that make it less interesting, not more, that make it less vital, less luminous, less magical.

To invoke Kaprow:

“I would like to imagine a time when Tail Wagging Dog could be experienced and discussed outside the arts and their myriad histories and expectations. It would be a relief to discard the pious legitimizing that automatically accompanies anything called art; and to bypass the silly obligation to live up to art’s claim on supreme values. (Art saves the world, or at least the artist.) The arts are not bad; it’s the overinflated way we think about them that has made them unreal. For activities like Tail Wagging Dog, the arts are mostly irrelevant and cause needless confusion…

But in the foreseeable future, complete detachment from art culture is unlikely…It can’t lose its parentage so quickly. The best that can be hoped is that a gradual weariness with the art connection will naturally occur as it appears, correctly, less and less important.”[1]

Maybe it is like National Lampoon’s Vacation, in it, Chevy Chase is determined to get to Walley World, along the way a series of mishaps occurs. These mishaps are all of the things beyond Chase’s control, and they are the things that make the film comedic, the vain attempt to stay on course, to stick to the plan, while life gets in the way…If art’s failure to fully control experience, to meet its own demands in the face of a recalcitrant life, were more like Chevy Chase forgetting to untie the dog from the bumper of his car before leaving the campground, then maybe I would find it more engaging. Instead, I’m left feeling sorry for the (tail wagging) dog.

[1]Kaprow, A. (1990). Tail Wagging Dog. Performance Art Journal, 2(1), 10-12.

About the contributor: Randall Szott embodies the spirit of an old Dennis Miller joke in that he doesn’t know enough about anything to impress strangers and just enough about everything to annoy his friends. Or is it the reverse? He spent 11 years in college at seven schools in five states and has three degrees. Although it could be said he is something of an expert on leisure, it could also be said he is a lazy expert––neither are really true. He is a writer that doesn’t write and an artist that doesn’t make art. He is, however, a cook that actually cooks. Inexplicably, people occasionally invite him to present his thoughts and activities in a public setting, even ones that should know better like SFMOMA, basekamp, The University of Houston, The California College of the Arts, Summer Forum for Inquiry & Exchange, the College Art Association, and threewalls. randallszott.org