All the things we experience, whether it be art, skateboarding or a person walking by, are defined as much by their context as what they express by themselves.
Time, place, social and political situation, these things all change they way we percieve the world around us. What happens to our perception of art when we have to pay an entrance fee to see it? Does a painting express the same thing by itself as in a gold frame?
As a fresh canvas, unframed on a studio wall, the painting is in its first stage as an art work. It might not have been seen by any one else except the one painted it, and maybe it never will. It is yet without judgement from the outside world and in that way also without value.
Of course a true representation of this stage, or context, is in a way impossible to portray as the very act of portraying it gives it another context. Suddenly it is judged in relation to the space it is shown, to the words written about it, and the person who wrote them.
The steril white walls of a gallery
hall have long been seen as a way of exhibiting art without distraction or preconception. However, we seldom talk about the weight and the value that those same walls transfer to the art that they are supposed to leave alone.
Was it art before it entered the gallery, or is it the space itself and the values we asign to it that make it art?
Or has the gallery in fact taken something which was art, and turned it into another item for consumption, a product?
The most famous art works ever created are most likely the hardest to see for what they really are. They have come to the point where what you are actually looking at cannot be seperated from the stories told about them, the artists who created them and the very city and museum which exhibits them.
What you see is not so much the art itself, but rather the spectacular world of mystery which surrounds it.