I‟m Not There

The Role of the Artist: Introduction

Focus Questions
• 1. What does artistic autonomy mean? • 2. What is the difference between the committed

artist and the autonomous artist and where do we place Dylan in this?
• 3. How can the artist be seen as a projection of the

audience‟s ego?

But first...
• What do you think the role of the artist is? i.e. what

should artists be doing/achieving?
• - social commentator? • - entertainer? • - provocateur? • - should they have a message? • - do they have an obligation to represent a community?

• - how does the idea of payment change things?

An opinion...
• “The work of art,

does not have an end...But the reason is that it is an end.”
• - Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre‟s attitude
• When we unpack his idea, we get this belief that the

intention of art isn‟t to achieve anything, i.e. it is not a means to an end, it isn‟t intended to achieve anything.
• The reason, as Sartre sees it, is that the work of art,

when it arrives, has already completed its purpose simply by existing. We‟re not to expect anything else from it because it has already done what it set out to do.

The Committed vs. The Autonomous
Committed Art Autonomous Art

This means the politically committed artist. A committed artist is committed to a cause, they have a message, they see their art as a means to deliver an idea, lesson, etc. to an audience.

Autonomous art has no purpose. It doesn‟t set out to achieve anything as it is being made. It may have a message, but it‟s not the artists message. Its primary purpose is to exist and be useless.

A Question...
I don‟t really have an answer to this question: Is I‟m Not There a committed work or an autonomous work? Do you think it deliberately sets out to teach something/illustrate a message? Or is it more interested in just existing and allowing audiences to do whatever they want?

The critique of committed art...
The general critique of politically committed art is that it gets sucked into the world and stops being the piece of art that was initially created because it is only seen as its message and not the work art. The idea is that a committed work of art is too busy being something else to actually be a piece of art. The classic example is propaganda...

The idea is that the poster is too busy with its proStalin/pro-communism message to be able to be appreciated as a piece of art. But a Rothko painting on the other hand...

...is entirely useless, in that it is a political void. It is devoid of an immediate message and so its „art-ness‟ is able to exist without impediment.

Dylan got this...
We see it expressed quite explicitly in the Jude Quinn sequences. His conversations with Keenan Jones are the film‟s most striking commentaries on the purpose of the artist. We‟re going to deal with these in more detail throughout this section of the unit, this will just be an initial discussion...

Insert clip of Jude in press conference

Insert clip of Jude and Keenan Jones arguing

Why do we want?
To paraphrase Jude, why should we care whether he cares? Why are we so interested in the artist‟s attitude towards their fans? Why, when an artist abandons what we knew them for, do we seem to see ourselves as justified in being upset?

Freud had this belief that we will project false accusations, information, etc. onto an individual for the purpose of maintaining a self-created illusion. The illusion is that we‟ve found someone who understands how we feel about the world and can articulate our thoughts about the world. The idea is that we will falsely accuse the artist of walking away from us, taking away that connection we once had, abandoning their beliefs, all in order to protect that initial illusion. We protect it because the only other alternative is to believe that we were wrong from the beginning and in fact the artist was not my kindred spirit.

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