These images, taken in India in the 1990s, seem to me to occupy an ambigous borderland between unintentional and intentional art.
Painting one’s boat, and repainting it when the old paint becomes weathered, serves the practical purpose of protecting the wood. Painting it in distinctive colours also serves the practical purpose of making it possible to distinguish one’s own boat from everyone else’s. But there is clearly an aesthetic intention here too. It is hard for me to tell, with my Western twentieth century-born eyes, how much I am simply responding to these boat-painters’ aesthetic intentions and how much I am projecting the values that derive from my own visual education.
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