OPT - Exhibition! takes place on the evening of February 9th with a stylish reception in the Mercato Marketplace. A groundbreaking show, OPT - Exhibition! will feature important new work by Todd Andrew Babb, Greg Biolchini, Veron Ennis, Hollis Jeffcoat, and Arturo Samaniego, five socially-responsible artists who are spearheading the OPT Art movement in Southwest Florida.
OPT stands for Open Positive Transference, a term signifying the belief that the emotions an artist experiences during the creative process are conveyed consciously and subliminally to viewers, thereby impacting their physical, psychological and mental well-being, whether for better or worse. Thus, OPT artists exercise great pains to ensure they only convey positive feelings in and through their art, scrupulously avoiding negative, dystopian or shock art lest it "create a dystopian and shocking society."
For centuries, however, artists and viewers alike believed that only artists of the calibre of a Caravaggio, Michelangelo, van Gogh or Gorky had the ability to truly convey emotional content to the people lucky enough to experience their work up close and personal. And so, some artists within the last half century began turning to shock art in an effort to make that visceral connection with viewers and collectors. Tracey Emin is perhaps the most visible example of this dynamic.
Emin’s work is known for its immediacy, raw openness and sexually-provocative attitude. No where was this more in evidence than in her 1999 show at the Tate Gallery in London, where she exhibited her own bed covered with objects and traces of her struggle with depression during relationship difficulties. My Bed generated strong media attention due to the presence of bodily fluids on the sheets, as well as used condoms, empty liquor bottles and slippers on the floor. Taking advantage of her celebrity and reputation as an art outsider, Emin sought through the exhibit to present to viewers the world of her hopes, failures, success and humiliations that contains both tragic and humorous elements, engaging them with the unrestricted exploration of universal emotions.
As exhibits like My Bed demonstrate, art can dazzle us with its energy, its originality, its technical virtuosity. It can amuse, unsettle, or outrage us. It frequently comments on the culture in which we live, gives us pleasure, and provides us with intimations of mysterious beauty. It can touch us in ways that transcend the limitations of language. In one recent exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art, it even left viewers tearful, shaken and inspired to permanently memorialize the experience through tattoos.
Titled The Artist is Present, the exhibit featured artist Marina Abramovic seated in a chair staring intently across a small table at an empty chair. Members of the audience took turns occupying that chair as Abramovic peered through their eyes and seemingly into their very souls. Some laughed self-consciously. Many broke down in tears. Virtually all experienced some type of dramatic, raw emotion.
The Artist is Present took the principle of affective participation to the extreme, but can a work of art convey emotion if the viewer refuses or fails to participate in the process? Can the mood or emotional state expressed by the artist while creating an artwork pass subliminally to the viewer without he or she even noticing?
To learn more, read Part 3 of this series.