GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Grand Rapids is a two hour drive due west of the state’s bankruptcy carnival that is Detroit, the hometown of President Gerald R. Ford, and the first city in the U.S. to add fluoride to its drinking water. It is an easy-to-visit city located on the banks of the Grand River whose early citizens were primarily of Dutch and German origin. Today, Grand Rapids is home to the annual ArtPrize, a sprawling, enormous art competition that covers the downtown and surrounding areas of the city. There is a ton of visual imagery to see and experience, and what constitutes art, Art and “art” is up for debate, literally.
To champion the work here as art, however, makes one feel populist, or just like the standards have been lowered. That’s an elitist statement right there. Yet anyone who makes art or writes about it hopes that, on some level, art can be for everyone. The gap between art and pure self-expression is wide, and ArtPrize challenges that idea. It also forces visitors to define their aesthetic tastes, declare what it is that they consider worthy of being part of the art cannon and, more importantly, consider who is allowed into the white cube world, and why. In this way, ArtPrize is a radical reconfiguring of contemporary art culture that points to the Art World’s epic elitist failure. It is an opportunity — however fraught — to allow anyone to call something Art and put it on display in a venue where visitors will see it and, no doubt, judge the hell out of it.
read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/86243/at-artprize-what-the-f-is-art/