Outsider Biographies vs. Outsider Art

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Tessa DeCarlo

...The debate over what to call the kind of art that is found in Raw Vision has been going on for decades now, and sometimes we seem to be farther from resolving this knotty issue than ever.

As the whatchamacallit field grows in recognition and popularity, its old-timers continually find themselves contending with new arrivals who think that work exhibited under the ‘visionary’ label must reflect some kind of mental illness, or who want to call themselves ‘outsider artists’ because they never got around to completing their art degree.

Meanwhile, more and more writers, academics, and art types are discovering this niche, proclaiming the new-to-them descriptive inadequacies of terms such as ‘folk,’ ‘self-taught,’ and ‘outsider,’ and condemning the arrogance or pointlessness of a field that presumes to embrace material as disparate as embroidery by Swiss schizophrenics and wood carvings by Jamaicans. (I sympathize, since not long ago I was doing pretty much the same thing myself.)

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Raw Vision #41