From Garbage Bin to Gallery – But is it Art?

From Garbage Bin to Gallery – But is it Art?

Have you ever pretended to understand and appreciate an artwork in a gallery just so that you didn’t appear ignorant, I know I have. If you go into any contemporary art gallery you will most likely see people standing in front of artworks with expressions on their face that would suggest that they understand the artwork when in fact they have absolutely no idea what they are looking at. People’s reluctance to question the legitimacy or artistic value of an artwork for fear of appearing ignorant or just not cool enough to be able to engage with or understand the artwork has basically allowed artists to completely disregard the boundaries of artistic practice without consequence.

The factors and characteristics that distinguish an artwork from any other object have virtually become obsolete which has allowed people to classify anything that is placed in a gallery as art. Because contemporary artists continue to push the boundaries of what is considered to be art, the definition of art has become so blurred that it is almost non existent.

An Australian television show called The Chasers War on Everything recently set out to see whether people could actually tell the difference between garbage and art, the results of which you can view in the clip below. For those non-Australian’s, The Chasers War on Everything is is a satirical television comedy series broadcast on ABC and is most famous for breaching the APEC Leaders Summit (Sydney 2007) restricted zone in a fake Canadian motorcade with one of the passengers dressed as Osama Bin Laden.

Nick**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

4 Responses

  1. Excellent Post Nicholas!
    You say it all….I accept we all have to test our conceptual boundaries and artists help us do that, but that they actually end up with a creation of ART
    at the end of the process…? I am not so sure.

    Here is a link to a thought I had on this situation:

  2. Hi Colombianart,

    The problem is that there is not a clear definition of art which means that it is almost impossible to discern whether they actually ended up creating art or not.

    Nicholas Forrest

  3. Almost anything can be called art if the creator deems it so, but whether or not it is GOOD art is another matter entirely. The one factor that I have always considered to be essential in judging art is resonance. Good art lingers in your mind just like a memorable meal, and its value is demonstrative because we will pay to experience it again.

    Elizabeth McKeever

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    I totally agree, resonance is a vital factor in determining good

    Nicholas Forrest

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