On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Megan Hoetger, CSLB student and critic.
Joseph Beuys is remembered as having claimed that “everyone is an artist.” For years, in the imaginary conversation going on with him in my head, I would respond “well, everyone has creative potential.” What, I wonder today, was the distinction I was drawing there? Moreover, why did it matter to me so much to draw such a distinction? What, in other words, was the difference between being creative and being artistic? I still don’t know that I have an answer to these questions and I cannot even say with certainty that there is a difference, but I came to understand that the identification of the artistic (the artist) was contingent on institutional and market forces; in other words, built into the ways in which “Art” comes to be identified and defined is an inequality, as system marked by inclusion and exclusion. The artistic, for me, was a closed system with clearly delineated positions whereas creativity (the creative individual) was something more free-floating, related to our “mental imagining” and, to cite Elaine Scarry, “the way other persons become visible to us…the way we make ourselves (and the originally interior facts of sentience) available to one another through verbal and material artifacts” (The Body in Pain, 22). At stake in both the artistic and the creative are ethical issues around representation, the act of representing (or not), and the ways in which the object produced (whether a mental image or plastic thing) does and does not manifest the non-object state to which it refers. What can the creative offer us, though, that artistic cannot? Are they simply two parallel but discrete systems that I have conflated? What is their relationship?