Bob and Roberta Smith

I attended a lecture at the RISD Museum in October by the British artist Bob Smith (Roberta is his alter ego). It was dark in the Metcalf auditorium, but I scribbled some notes that I’ve always wanted to transcribe because much of what he said was at the intersection of being serious, funny, obvious, contradictory, over-the-top, and downright inspiring:

  • “Artists, poets, dancers, architects built America and they will rebuild America with art at its center.”
  • “Artists are people who speak out. So being an artist is a tough, dirty job.”
  • “Art is the economic stimulus that the world needs right now.”
  • “Everybody needs/enjoys/consumes images.”
  • “The art world is a gated community.”
  • “I need to think that art can help.”
  • “Artists are people that want to add something that they see missing.”
  • “Creativity is about a certain kind of rebellion.”
  • “Everything is made.”
  • “While art is being accepted into society, it’s important for art to retain a critical underground.”
  • “Make your own d*mn art!”

Bob leads what he calls the “Art Party” — a kind of politics that the world might need right now. -JM