HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.So what's the deal here? This street musician just happened to be Joshua Bell, one of the most prominent concert violinist in the world. The violin was his 3.5 million dollar Stradivari.
The experiment - is art and/or culture the same everywhere? Or is something really "art" only in context? Do we need to approach something with a certain mindset to really see it as art?
The experiment was videotaped. Passersby were later interviewed. Bell was interviewed. And the resulting article, written with a nice sense of humor, does a fascinating job of exploring people's reaction (and non-reaction) to an encounter with a world renowned master of his art.
The reporters draw their own conclusions. And discussing the article has certainly led to other conclusions in our house. Is some "art" classist? Are such things as opera and classical music so specialized that only those with easy access (meaning the ability to pay to see these folks) can learn to appreciate it and recognize it as different from just music in general? What would have happened if this had been a professional jazz musician? Or a professional country music artist? Would I have stopped and listened or rushed past with barely a notice?
I just thought it was an interesting experiment and an interesting article. If you wander over to their site, I hope you enjoy it. And I would be curious to know your thoughts.