Taphonomy is where the action is
The most important thing to keep in mind when discussing Paleolithic art is the dog that did not (and will not) bark, namely the overwhelming majority of artistic productions for which there is no trace whatsoever. A cardinal sin of cave art interpretation is to ignore taphonony, in other words to mistake the record for the fact - to think that what is central, important and interesting in the available record was the central, important and interesting part of the activity studied. Knowing that Cro-Magnons had the same brains as we do, and assuming that same causes produce similar effects, we can be confident that these people (who dwelt in ingeniously built shelters - emphatically not in caves) wore elaborate clothes, used make up and jewellery, danced, sang, played musical instruments and enjoyed well-crafted narratives. Of all these artistic achievements nothing survives, except a few drawings and paintings in the confines of a few deep caves. We know of rock art because caves preserved pigments - not because it was of any special importance to European Stone Age people.
In Art Taco, I am very conscious of this, and not in the distant past, but in the present. I do want to show the spaces of art, how artists clothe, bejewel themselves, how they interact, dance, and all the other ephemeral, hard-to-categorize, describe or discuss things. The things that do not make their way into gallery or museum walls, or art books, that are generally not spoken about, are not easily or neatly tied up by non-poetic words, will not fit on pedestals or in crystal-clear plexiglass boxes and cannot be bought and sold. I do not pretend to be able to deal with this living torrent of information/history falling around us like confetti, but know I cannot let it go unnoticed. Perhaps it is frivolous to spend time and energy on such things, maybe I should be focusing on the academic, conventionally accepted definitions of what is suitable for discussing about art, but to me this matters . I am not talking about the Social History of Art, or Marxist models, or the socio-political but the micro-geography of the personal.
|(L. 2 R.), Aurelius, Clint Thomas, Reid Jenkins, Dick Patterson|