Kat has always found the categorisation of whether something is or isn’t art very problematic. She tells me that ‘art’ as a term is incredibly broad and therefore too difficult to easily summarise, but she does say that to an extent, anything goes, and comments that when something is presented in an art context, it exists as art. For Kat, if she is told that something is art then she doesn’t question it; she is far more concerned with whether the work interests her or not.
We discuss the possibilities of art and non-art, and Kat explains that the boundary between art and life is a particularly difficult one to separate. Performance art, or any artwork which sits especially close to life, becomes harder to differentiate. She makes the example of washing her dishes at home: she has the ability to call it an art performance, but who will see it, and does this make it any more or less an art piece? She suggests that a person performing in the street could in fact just be having a nervous breakdown, acknowledging that the idea that it could be either an art performance or a personal crisis is what she finds interesting. I ask who or what decides if a person is an artist, and she states that being an artist is about having a practice, that we have to provide ourselves with the title of ‘artist’. However, her boyfriend recently told her, “You’re not an artist, you’re an art student,” and we consider whether there’s a difference. She concludes that perhaps it depends on who is looking at the artwork or the artist; that it is in the lap of the audience to decide.
Art by its very nature is problematic; it is subjective and malleable and thus an immeasurable unit of value. And naturally, when discussing a subjective subject, perceptions of value vary from person to person. It is as though one has to take art as a belief. To question whether something can or cannot be art is going to remain controversial, and the further the search for a core understanding of what we can define as art in the modern world, the more questions arise. It seems rather unanimous with my interviewees that the term ‘art’ is too broad and too loaded to sum up in one easy sentence, but perhaps it is this notion that makes art such a curiously wonderful subject to engage with. It’s an infinite and compelling discussion to which one cannot easily reach an explicit answer. Instead, let’s keep believing in art.