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Friday, March 23, 2007

Is Havidol Art?

After reading the article Designing a disease --- and its drug in this morning’s online issue of The Scientist, I popped over to have a look at Justine Cooper’s HAVIDOL Web site. Without knowing the background and intent of the artist’s online installation, I can see how someone might be fooled into thinking the site and medication it advertises are legitimate at first glance. However, upon closer inspection it becomes clear that the information is meant as a tongue-in-cheek poke at the big drug companies and the “latest and greatest” medication ads we are assaulted with in print and on TV. Just say the drug’s name out loud and you begin to understand the artist’s point.

I’m fairly confident in thinking I’m not the only viewer who cringes and groans when that “peppy” little blue pill ad comes on. I’m also beginning to wonder about the motivation behind referring to these new wonder drugs by color instead of actual drug name. By now most of us have also seen the “Purple Pill” ads. Are we, as consumers, so inane we need to start referring to our medications by color? I can see it now, one day in the future I’ll visit the pharmacy to pick up my son’s prescription and have to ask for his little orange pill, his little green pill, and his big white pill to be refilled. Frightening thought, at least to my mind. I really detest it when the ad agencies and the companies behind the products being advertised treat us like we’re inept by dumbing down the message and content they bombard us with.

Referring back to the phony medication site, after reading the related article and viewing the installation, the question “What is art?” came to mind. While taking an Art Theory class in design school, I came to the conclusion and understanding that art is unique to the individual who creates it and to the person who views it. Someone else might consider something that I classify as art as garbage or nonsense. Does that it make it any less valid as art? I consider the HAVIDOL installation to be a work of art (social commentary) in its own right, along with the custom designed hoodie, commemorative 24ct gold Havidol pill, and official Havidol T-shirt the artist has created.

B.Y. Penman

Social Commentary – “Art as social commentary is a major theme in modern and contemporary art. The artist assumes the roles of reporter and analyst in an exploration of the nature of society. Subjects range from momentous historical events to everyday activities. Always at stake is the artist's wish to uncover the workings of society and draw conclusions for understanding it more effectively.” (read more) Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

What is Art?
- “Any brief definition of art would oversimplify the matter, but we can say that all the definitions offered over the centuries include some notion of human agency, whether through manual skills (as in the art of sailing or painting or photography), intellectual manipulation (as in the art of politics), or public or personal expression (as in the art of conversation.) Recall that the word is etymologically related to artificial -- i.e., produced by human beings. Since this embraces many types of production that are not conventionally deemed to be art, perhaps a better term for them would be visual culture.” (read more) ~ Dr. Robert J. Belton

1 comment:

Lord Matt said...

I'm glad I clicked that link now. Your post was very good and that "art" site - that was hysterical. Cheers.