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Engaging With Art That’s Not Mine

http://www.villagevoice.com/arts/really-meditates-on-history-s-forgotten-subjects-8450750

Over the course of the semester, I can safely say that I’ve written more than a few blog posts discussing and analyzing various articles. Usually, the articles I choose to discuss present themselves as a critique or an editorial where I have to parse the objective account of the subject matter. I’ve always intentionally overlooked the presence of the author unless I’m questioning the agenda set forth within the article, which is usually concerning a theatrical work. I stumbled across this article in The Village Voice discussing a project by Jackie Sibblies Drury – author of We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… – and couldn’t help but acknowledge how much power the author had in presenting Druries work in the manner he did.

Gallagher-Ross’ article concerning Druries’ Really is different from other articles I’ve encountered in the sense that Gallagher-Ross truly attempts to understand Druries position through Really. Rather than applying a subjective and reductive opinion to Druries’ work, Gallagher-Ross engages Really from a rather dramaturgical lens that preoccupy itself with validating the work but rather with opening the doors of engagement with the piece.

The power Gallagher-Ross holds lies in his ability to take Druries’ piece and write about it in a manner that opens doors rather than closing them. Instead of applying labels and reducing Really to his interpretation, he asks rhetorical questions that, regardless of my knowledge of Really, force me to engage with the piece. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is his ability to bring to the forefront the tools employed by Druries and asking questions rather than answers to her manipulation of content: “It’s no accident that the absent auteur was a white man and Girlfriend is a black woman. Drury’s tale is as much about historical agency as it is about the artistic kind. Why are some people subjects, shaping the world according to their imaginations, while others are objects, obliged to compose themselves into material for the lens?”

This observation may seem trivial and doesn’t necessarily directly engage with the subject matter being discussed within the article, however I feel it is important for me to clock how powerful a written analysis of a piece can be.It brings forth to my mind my responsibilities in engaging with other work. When writing about other people’s work, am I engaging with the work in a manner that’s conducive to a deeper understanding of the work or am I solely pushing my own perspective forward? When I encounter work, am I opening doors or am I closing them? Am I doing a service to the work or a disservice in my treatment of it?

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