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100 thoughts on “Please Break the Law? | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios”

  • "…and could you guys please suggest a sign off for us?…"
    .
    What's wrong with the sign-off you used?  I like, "…Please don't break the law, unless you must, and you have a very good reason, and you don't sue us…"
    .
    Oh wait, I see, that statement is completely legal.  If it were illegal that wouldn't disqualify it from being considered 'art'.  Hmmm
    .
    One option would be to tie a threat onto the end, as in, "….and you don't sue us or we'll come to your house while you are sleeping. break in the door and talk trash about your furnishings and taste in clothes….", or words to that effect.    That could be illegal and so it isn't disqualified from being art.

    Okay, I helped with that part, the rest is up to you.

  • You could invoke Wil Wheaton, point at the camera and say "Make more art!" 

    😛 Yeah, I  really have no idea what I good sign off would be. 

  • When people engage in "art" which violates a law they should not expect that they will be immune from the consequences of taking illegal actions. An artist is only "brave" in their actions if they take them knowing that they will suffer the consequences thereof.
    There must also be concern for those innocent persons who can or do become victims of the "artistic" event. To cite Plutarch " Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport but in earnest." Similarly an "artist" may do things for the sake of "art" but the outcome for others can be harmful despite the otherwise benign intent of the "artist."    

  • This is what drew me to be passionate about art in highschool. I started a program which required lots of art research and realized how important art is as a political entity. I think the best art/expression raises social, political, philosophical or other issues. Beauty and aesthetics can extend value in such important ways beyond the simple surface of being "pretty" or skillful. ALL THE POLITICAL ART! 😀

  • Great episode, Sarah! We miss John, but honestly I would watch you every day. I'm leaning so much about art. Great show!

  • Olivia McGovern says:

    Maybe your sign off could be something about portrayal and interpretation, how there are thousands of ways for art to be portrayed and interpreted. I think that's what you were trying to say here; art isn't illegal until it is interpreted by the governments we live in, so we should be careful about the ways we portray our art so that it can be interpreted in a way that won't end us up in jail, where it's hard to continue making art. (I also want to add that it's very interesting how in those examples, the societies in which the artists lived inspired the art that broke the society's own regulations) Awesome video!

  • Olivia McGovern says:

    Also, I'm just wondering if you're planning on doing any Art Assignments that have to do with writing or literature. Like maybe a kind of poem, or a prompt of some sort? That would be really exciting! 

  • Matthew Feickert says:

    Sarah, in an earlier Art Assignment you mentioned that you don't have a definition of art. However, in this Art Assignment you say that most art that breaks the law is "bad [art]," and you argue that a bank heist isn't art.

    This makes me wonder, how do artists define what is good art and what is bad? If anything can be art, then under what criteria are the labels of "good" and "bad" defined? Thanks for making me wonder about this.

  • Sarah, this is such a wonderful video. So well-written, so thoughtful, so challenging, but also so accessible. You rock. Your team rocks. Also Ai Wei Wei rocks, but that's just an aside. Mainly you rock.

  • Nicole Mason says:

    you guys should really read The Family Fang.. it's all about violent and law breaking performance art, and the limits and value of it. 

  • kellyandthreequarters says:

    Your sign-of could be: Make art, see art, be art. Or is that too pretentious? And I find the concept of defining art confusing. Need we? Could art just be the indefinable? Or would that then be a definition in itself? 

  • I'd like to point out something.
    As in any other place where professionalism is required, on the subject of robbing banks, someone who's familiarized with the techniques and difficulties can see the beauty in a perfectly orchestrated bank assault.
    I understand that you tried to sound subjective when you said that "I'd argue not", but I want to understand why do you "argue not"?
    Is it because of the crash with the ethical premise of private property? In that sense, people are also entitled to religious freedom in the same ethical level, thus making the Pussy Riot protest unethical in the that same level. Or maybe its because you wouldn't want to encourage this type of behavior, as it creates much more social chaos than a harmless dance on an altar. But then I ask this, what is social chaos? For the "people of china" what Ai Weiwei was doing, denouncing its own country's infrastructure, was unsettling the foundations of their great nation, spreading this way a whole bunch of chaos. You might argue that Ai Weiwei was denouncing errors that need imediate fixing, but a highly complex and orchestrated robbery does, in the same way, argue that there's a system that needs improving, it shows where the flaws are and how it can be broken. In the cyber-security world people often say that the best way to keep a firewall up-to-date is to continuously have a team hacking into it, thus revealing its flaws. In this way a bank robbery sends a message that has many layers of possible interpretation, and isn't this what art is all about?

    ps. I'm not really a chaos activist, this is all just for the sake of argument.

  • Amanda Rochelle says:

    Ha! I thought, "Please don't break the law" was your sign-off. You need a new one?
    Ummm… I got nothin'. 
    Great insight into Avant-Garde, though! I love The Art Assignment!

  • You know I do agree with you that the law can sometimes be broken. I mean this country was founded on braking laws. When the British ruled us they had laws and our "founding fathers" broke them to free this country. I wonder what you guys think. Should we break the law sometimes if it in a way must be done. Sorry I just kind of wondered and wanted to know what you guys thought

  • Bryce Nerdstrom says:

    Of course a bank robbery could be art. Especially in a culture that is dominated, in the worst possible sense of the word, by banks and corporations.

  • animalasaysrauer says:

    This video was especially fascinating.  Thank you for your content.  I am thinking of using The Art Assignment in my humanities class next year.

  • togaofmanhood says:

    It's weird how photography was invented so recently so when you look at old photographs you're not even looking at anything from very far in the past.

  • Amanda Lovelace says:

    Could you maybe do a video on performance art? I absolutely love Abramovic's work and would really like more history on that form of art altogether. And maybe you could say "make your great day."? 

  • Nathan Walker says:

    What do you think about the line between vandalism and streetart/graffiti? And the way in which certain artists are revered and there work is actively protected by goverments, and also removed from walls and sold, where as other pieces are painted over and the artists prosecuted

  • feitocomfruta says:

    An interesting art assignment I'd like to see along these lines is "controversial" art and seeing people translate that into their own personal lives. What is controversial to one person may be normal and mundane to another. 

  • Laura Brainwood says:

    If anyone is still interested in this subject, there is a wonderful exhibition called 'Disobedient Objects' at the V&A in South Kensington, London. It looks deeper at the subjects discussed here, with more focus on the objects used and created for riots and such, which aim to challenge systems of government and societial views.

  • Constance Boniful says:

    The makes me think of the French Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). He was elected during la Commune de Paris, 1871 and put in charge of the Fine Arts being an eminent subversive artist (L'Origine du monde, 1866, being his most famous provocative work) with close ties to the anarchist milieu. During la Commune, he constantly protected the works of art hosted in Paris, preventing a lot of destruction, but he ended up being emprisoned anyway after the Third Republic took the city back because he partly contributed to the destruction of a monument connected to Napoleon's conquests…

  • I don't know if you have covered street art yet but Banksy and other street artists are also great examples of individuals who try to send a message through their illegal art. 

  • Yeah even if Banksy's art is not very overt in its meaning (i.e. it is interpretable in different ways) it is still "against the law" because it is graffiti. It not only brings to attention the laws governing the allowance for graffiti to be accepted as art because his art is always beautiful and interesting, but it also challenges the systems of government that exist around the world.

  • Could I put all of my poorly done chemistry homework on display? When you don't know how to balance equations properly, you're breaking the law (of conservation of matter). 

  • I'm all up for peaceful protest but do they have to dance on an altar? This is how I see it: 
    1. They are protesting because their human rights aren't being respected 
    2. Isn't it a human right to respect another religion, no matter how displeasing it is to you? Even though the church is participating in Russian Politics, it has nothing to do with the million devout who cherish and respect the alter. 
    3. So aren't they disturbing someone else's human rights? 

    @Aliyah Qurashi

  • Because of the name Art Assignment, I think of you like my college art professor. So, your sign off could be related to that.
    "That's all for today, class. Don't forget your assignment."
    Maybe that's too cheesy
    Also, come to think of it, most of my teachers didn't have a sign off. All they had was a bell. Then all the students started leaving and the teacher was yelling reminders at us as we left.

  • Spooky ImaginationZ Inc. says:

    The post-modernism era is was a time of great and new art. My favorite artist, Alexander Calder, was a huge part of it. He was the first person to create moving sculpture, kinetic art. His mobile was inspiration to other artists, for example, George Rickey (my 2nd favorite artist. Calder's mobile revolutionized modern art. "Why must art be so static?"- Alexander CalderSincerely, Tristan Presley

  • How about photography as a form of art? or instagram as art??? Or please dispel the myth that you need a better camera for better photography… technical skills vs "creativity"!

  • Nicolás Restrepo Torres says:

    Can someone recommend me a book to understand a little more about art please? For mortals who have misconceptions even of the abstraction.

  • Lailanie Nicole says:

    Art is so many different things and it is really shocking how such a strong message an artist makes can turn their whole life around. Whether it is good or bad, such as Ai Weiwei. He had his freedom completely taken away as a private citizen because his piece called Remembering what basically a back hand to the government. I am so glad to know that this hasn't completely stopped him from speaking out for what he thinks or believes in through his blog.

  • Rogério Nagaoka says:

    Thank you! loved it! Please talk about "Black Market International"! Or another Activist artists. I've some photo-performance works, could you talk about interdisciplinary art works or Groups of artists?

  • jeffrey brooks says:

    …if you can find Richard Hell's writings on "Crime", i think there is no better deconstruction of the topic and i woudl suggest it highly.

  • The way i see this discussion is that calling something art that is not art- for example Marcel Duchamp, Urinal, and the shooting of a man's arm in a gallery should be considered breaking the law. Such a shame that i am unaware if there is a legal law that prevents this or if it is ever implemented.

    As for breaking the law and calling it art i suppose it depends on the law you are breaking (get a legal advisor beforehand). As an artist the law i find most interesting today is Copyright Law. This challenges the point of making art in its pure and conventional form drawing, painting and sculpture for then it to be copied. Artist's such as Andy Warhol may of been aware of this and on this subject leads to Spiritual aspects of the art itself, and if the maker/artist is of any importance to the work when assessing it as art. This is why Art schools are usually a waste of time to artists and leaving good artists in usual distress and fury when their good work is decided as bad with preference to something floating in my toilet in the morning pre flush becoming revered- Manzoni Canned Shit for example. I would like to know if this is to do with ego or just plain threatening.

    Appreciate your YouTube discussions perhaps you could do a topic on Copyright Law.

    If you could also discuss if bad art is threatening or just not art and calling something that an artist does as art that was not their intention causing so much distress to the artist that they end up accepting the stupidity of non-art genres.

  • 4 & 20 Black Birds says:

    It is important considered which law to break and not to break them because the art establishment has to have it's last say. So much for freedom of expression. Culturally speaking, it's all control by the establishment. One man's expression is another country s propaganda. Weaponized.

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