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Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001) - Authentic Regurgitation

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  • Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001) - Authentic Regurgitation

    The dramatic shift of the art teacher’s demeanor towards Enid is another great example of the level of importance this film places on contradiction and the paradox of conformity. Art or more creative expression is not only a subjective medium, but it is also a wildly vulnerable means of communication. In art—while also applicable in life—you are supposed to learn and master the rules in order to know how to break them correctly. In short, in order to have a break through one has to give or find new meaning to ‘meaning’; you have to learn from what is to make what is not.

    The evident contradiction here is the in the praise and emphasis emitted by the teacher when the student submits her “found object” project. Found objects deemed as art, or more accurately known as Readymades, have not only had their “moment” in the art world, but have also had time to go mainstream and back again. Initially established as a way to deny the possibility of defining art, Marcel Duchamp made Fountain in 1917 – the piece was a signed porcelain urinal, and instantaneously rejected as art by the Society of Independent Artists. Fountain is now regarded as a major landmark in 20th century art. In a way, while Enid is submitting the old racist poster as a “found object”, she is actually commenting (in a likeminded Duchamp way) on how easy it is to receive praise. She understands how flawed the system is and gets enjoyment and some amount of gratification from manipulating the game rather than playing in it.

    Because the readymades and “found objects” are no longer regarded, as a radical means of defiance or rebellion the art teacher should have responded accurately to the submission, given her expected knowledge of art history... Her response should have been a mild form of disappointment, specifically she should have been disappointed that the piece wasn’t pushed further. Art is and can be a lot of things, but the socially acceptable and safe pieces are complete and utter crap.

    The comment here on the role of art in an alienated and inauthentic society is that it doesn’t really exist until it becomes the nothingness that is the mainstream. Until then, experimental and radical forms of artistic manifestation are adversely labeled and rejected by society until it is completely digested then regurgitated back out into the world as a bland and bleak attempt at feeling. Externalizing the internal is something that many many people do not actually do, instead it is more of an internalizing the external; or consumption. But that’s not what art is. At all.

  • #2
    I like what you said about art in the first paragraph. There is a template on how to be different. There is a certain way to break the rules that is deemed as acceptable, which defeats the purpose of breaking the rules. The art teacher had the ridiculous video that was deemed as art because it was unusual in the right way, but Enid’s drawings are no considered meaningful art because they don’t portray the right messages. Is it even really art if the artist fabricates the meaning to try to reach the biggest audience? The tampon in the tea cup is supposed to be edgy, but it really just conforms to what people, especially the art teacher, want to see.

    As I think you say in the last paragraph, work is only deemed art in the artistic community if the right people like it, rather than if it accurately portrays the feelings of the artist, as art should do. In the “Ghost World” Enid is trapped in personal expression is much less important than producing what people want to see in order to sell paintings or get a good grade in a class. The supposedly most authentic form of human expression is also tainted with “Ghosts”.