Untitled (I Never Expected This Term to Hold so Much Resonance) – Amy Fung

I never expected this term to hold
So much resonance with so many different
People who feel entitled
Who feel disempowered
To and by the amorphous category of aesthetic standards
Many of us have culled
Through years of watching
Listening and

I came to this term through gritted teeth
On a panel where I was asked to speak
On equity and inclusion.
Was I okay to speak on this panel
Instead of the marketing one?
A question that undermined the premise
That inclusion and marketing are even different.

Entitled Aesthetics is not a real term
I only came to it through 15 years of working in the arts.
Maybe in another 15
I will understand what it means.
Just keep having the same conversation
Over and over again.
It goes:
Aesthetics, etc.

Taking up space because
History, etc.

I talk a lot about entitlement
With people who have it,
Wield it;
And also
With people who refuse it,
Want it,
Deny it,
Own it.

Why we desire
To belong in places
Built to erase us
Is less a quandary
Than a situation.

Tracing the lineage of power
Does not mean you have power.

I remember sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Jakarta
Already this story is exotic
Without being exceptional
I was being interviewed by a local film buff
Who only wanted to talk
About Christian Metz
I stopped listening.
I asked:
Why do you hold up this 100-year-old theory and
Eurocentric male canon?
There are so much more recent and interesting things to talk about.

I tell people things so that they can hold the words until I need them.
I don’t yet understand what I am trying to say so
I am saying it to you:

Experimental is not an aesthetic.
Experimental is a social condition
A response to lived conditions of parceled existence.
When aesthetic becomes defined
Recognizable and emblematic
Conjuring up rhythms from another time and place
Transplanting historical reactions into modern exercises of elitism.

Of course
It doesn’t all have to be this way.

Repurposing is how we learn to look
At the same thing and see something new.
But reiterating
Deepening the ruts of
Aesthetics, etc.

Let’s start a new conversation
It doesn’t have to make sense,
It just needs to begin
And we don’t have to forget
About everything that’s happened
We actually can’t deny the past
Because that’s how repetition happens.
Let’s remember everything and still want to start again.

Amy Fung is a writer, curator, and facilitator currently based in Toronto. Working across a multitude of artistic disciplines and social genres, her writings on contemporary art and film culture have appeared in journals and magazines including Art Papers, Frieze, and The London Journal of Canadian Studies. Her commissioned writings for monographs and artist projects have appeared nationally and internationally. Since Fall 2014, Fung has been the Artistic Director of Images Festival. Currently, she sits on the Board of Directors for Art Metropole and is a founding/current Collective Member of MICE Magazine.