Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yeezus Tour Challenges Our Notion of Art

You may find it surprising, as I have found, to refer to Kanye West's new Yeezus tour as art.  From looking at the video for the beginning of the concert, to the costumes donned by the dancers and Kanye West, comparisons could be made to an opera set.  It is hard to put a label to exactly what the sets and costumes are.

Furthermore, the main set designer is Es Devlin, who has designed many operas, including Wagner's Parsifal.  You can see similarities between the Yeezus tour's set and the set of Parsifal.

Yeezus Tour
Wagner opera Parsifal
Wagner opera Parsifal
The most challenging thing to swallow is referring to any form of entertainment and popular culture as art.  The integrity of artists are constantly judged when combining art and entertainment, such as cross genres of music.  Nat Evans brings up a wonderful point in his article, #Yeezus, Lessons in Contemporary Performance from the Stadium Set, "Perhaps we just need to admit to ourselves that people like to be challenged, that people want to dive into wild contemporary imagery and messages, but that our success in that mission may not come from our own backyard."  Perhaps we need to look at the success of entertainment and take what we can in analyzing what is behind their success.

There are other people such as famous DJ and producer deadmau5, who frequently steps into the realms of electronic dance music and composition, angering and challenging the supporters of electronic dance music and art music.  There are people such as Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls and Radiohead, who ask for donations and encourages downloading music for free rather than sign a record label.  We may not like Kanye West, deadmau5, Dresden Dolls, or Radiohead, but they are obviously doing something right, in bringing people to be passionate and supportive about music.  It may be in our best interest to view them as the people that are on our side, rather than against the art music world.

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