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robertogreco : artastherapy   1

Against a "Life Hack" Approach to Art Education | Claudia Ruitenberg - Academia.edu
"This paper critiques de Botton and Armstrong’s Art as Therapy project (2013-2015), a collaboration with art museums in Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia, in which labels in the gallery, as well a catalogue and website, explain how viewers might use works of art to serve therapeutic purposes in their lives. The paper argues that, instead of making art more accessible to those who, allegedly, do not find access to art on their own, the Art as Therapy project undermines the force and richness of art by first declaring it useless and inaccessible and then repurposing it as therapeutic life hack "



"I commend de Botton and Armstrong for their premise that art is not the exclusive preoccupation of the cultural cognoscenti, but can have a bearing on anyone’s life— as long as we’re willing to let it. I also commend them for highlighting that art is not a purely cerebral affair, that works of art do something to us, and that the emotions are involved in this doing. My main criticisms of their approach are that they predetermine what bearing art can and should have, and that they privilege the therapeutic over the aesthetic value of art.

There is an important difference between a life hack approach in everyday life, where household items are repurposed but also retain their original use-value, and a life-hack approach to art, where the practical utility of “repurposed” works offers redemption for purported uselessness. Life hacks typically repurpose discarded or cheap materials; people don’t turn objects they already value into life hacks. de Botton and Armstrong’s message seems to be that art is useless, but that with the help of their commentaries, these useless works can be turned into something viewers can benefit from.

Whatever else art is and does, it offers an aesthetic experience, which is to say that it intervenes in perception (“aesthetic” is derived from the Greek verb aisthesthai, meaning to perceive, sense). This intervention may have various further effects, including therapeutic ones, but art is not useless if its effects are not therapeutic. Art may make us laugh or cry or leave us indifferent. It may disturb or console us, give us nightmares or fits of giggles. It may do this and a whole host of other things—but it does not inherently need or mean to do any of them. When de Botton and Armstrong cite the “art for art’s sake” credo, they dismiss it as saying that art has no purpose. That, however, is not what the credo says. That art is done for the sake of art suggests that art has no purpose other than to be art —and the latter is quite a bit of purpose."
2016  claudiaruitenberg  alaindebotton  johnarmostring  arttherapy  lifehacks  accessibility  artastherapy  inaccessibility  museumeducation  education  aestheticexperience  experience  interpretation  interpretativefreedom  pedagogy  pedagogicalintervention  intervention  freedom  aesthetics  carelpeeters  uselessness  purpose 
january 2017 by robertogreco

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