Jan Jagodzinski


In this essay I want to argue that un (becoming) is a word much like Freud's (1919) discussion of the word unheimlich (uncanny), which reveals a secretive and clandestine aspect of art that art educators must and should concern themselves with, since it identifies a "realm of the Real" whose abjection legitimates our very practice at its expense. It marks a return of the repressed. Un (becoming), like Freud's uncanny is visual art's non-reflected double as I attempt to show. This is the issue I wish to raise when it comes to the question of so-called "Outsider art," sometimes referred to as l'art brut (raw art) in the French context singularly because of the influence of Jean Dubuffet, but this is a somewhat misleading representation. Roger Cardinal published a book in 1972 with this title. Cardinal struggled to find the "right" term for such art. Many terms alluded to the creator's social or mental status such as isolate art, maverick art, folk art, visionary art, inspired art, and schizophrenic art; or to the eccentricity or oddness of the artist as being independently taught, hence, self-taught art, autodidact art, untutored art, idiosyncratic art, and original art. Other categorical candidates had been outlaw aesthetics, estranged art, anti-cultural art, unfettered art, the art of the artless, unmediated art, breakaway art, and art without precedent or tradition. All these labels give the reader a sense of what is at stake. Cardinal settled for Outsider art. The label stuck.


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