A lovely, brief essay from Alain de Botton for Tate Etc. on how art can be presented to connect more with our everyday lives, and not be concerned only with a piece’s heritage.
Without necessarily meaning to, museums send out subtle cues about what the ‘right’ thing to do inside them is. This set of norms is chiefly communicated by the captions which accompany objects and which throw the emphasis on a particular set of concerns: the name of the artist, the school to which they belonged, the influences upon them, the material of which the art object is made and their place within the museum’s internal cataloguing system. In other words, the captions invite their readers to take their first steps in adopting some of the concerns of the curatorial and academic establishments that, behind the scenes, look after and interpret works in museums.
I am interested in re-framing works of art so as to draw attention to their therapeutic aspects.
I enjoyed de Botton’s take on the role of arts in our everyday lives:
No less than music or literature, the visual arts have a role to play in keeping us more or less sane and in restoring us to a measure of serenity in an often frenetic and disappointing world… It lies in the power of art to honour the elusive but real value of ordinary life. It can teach us to be more just towards ourselves as we endeavour to make the best of our circumstances: a job we do not always love, the imperfections of middle-age, our frustrated ambitions and our attempts to stay loyal to irritable but loved spouses. Art can do the opposite of glamourising the unattainable; it can reawaken us to the genuine merit of life as we’re forced to lead it.