Intentism is a movement of artists, authors, actors and musicians who believe that art can convey an artist’s intended message to his or her intended audience. As a movement it both recognizes and celebrates the relationship between an artist’s creation and its creator.
Intentists believe 3 principles:
Intentists believe that the artist is free to convey his or her intended message. Intentists believe that European postmodernism has gagged the artist.
Eminent poststructuralist Jacques Derrida, seen as a champion of Postmodernism, believes intention,“…will no longer be able to govern the entire scene and the entire system of utterances.” For many of Derrida’s followers this means that there must ALWAYS be more than one interpretation of any text or work. Intention will NEVER be completely present. There will ALWAYS be undecidables.
Intentism believes in UNGAGGING the artist so that he or she can speak to us.
Who is right?
Much of postmodernist art theory claims that the artwork has no universal meaning and can therefore say many things. Meaning rests with the interpreter rather than the artist. If this is true, then the work can mean anything and therefore, effectively mean nothing.
The artist has been gagged.
Much of Postmodernism encourages the belief that no artist or author is able to convey his or her intended meaning because everyone must experience art through their limited frame or reference. Semiotician and social theorist Roland Barthes wrote of ‘The Death of the Author’ because, in his eyes, the author’s intention is irrelevant. “To give a text an Author…is to impose a limit on that text.”
Intentists appreciate the revolutionary insights much of postmodernism has made, particularly in the awareness of the baggage every viewer brings to an artwork. However, Intentists believe ‘No creative input, no meaning input.’ Consequently, a viewer cannot provide a new meaning.
Furthermore, since the epistemological qualities of a work finish when the creator creates no more, a viewer can perfectly, but not omnisciently understand the work, since the meaning of the work does not change with each new view. In essence, the hermeneutical circle should be considered the hermeneutical spiral, as a viewer can reduce subjective associations or significances.
Intentists call this the GAGGING of the artist because the artist is very much alive and has a message to say.
Intentists believe a confused, hidden or denied intention leads to ZERO accountability.
This is bad for art and bad for society.
A dead artist can no longer be associated with a painting advocating racism or homophobia, for example. Both Heidegger and Paul De Man have been rightly criticized for writing anti-Semitic articles, which is hypocritical unless an artist’s voice can be heard and recognized.
Conversely, Intentists believe that an omission of artist intention can lead to enforced restrictions on the artist and even censorship.
When the Contemporary Art Museum in Cincinatti, opened the art exhibition The Perfect Moment in 1990, the city of Cincinnati brought suit against the Centre and two curators as some of the work was considered offensive. The prosecution only showed the work, the defense explained possible artistic intention. The jury acquitted all the accused.
Art has been at the vanguard of changing social behaviour, often encouraging tolerance and civil liberties. Art has often been one step ahead of society in attitudes towards women, race and politics, acting as a social conscience in times of oppression.
The potency of art to speak to the hearts and minds of people is not doubted by dictaors who are often keen to silence its voice.
Without the influence of art with a message civilization will be that much more brutal, that much more intolerant.
Intentists believe that although their artwork can have a complex meaning and be understood on a number of levels, there are definitely ways it can be misunderstood – therefore not all interpretations are equally valid.
Intentists believe that their artwork is able to convey their artistic intention to their intended audience.
Intentists believe that the voice of their work is a force for good.
Intentists celebrate the ‘creative trail’ in their work by frequently keeping elements of the editing processes in their work. This layering of ideas we call ‘palimpsestism.’
The official manifesto from the international art movement: Intentism. (www.intentism.com)