Why is art important?

Use the following questions and related media as a way to initiate dialogue about contemporary art and specific ideas related to where art is seen, how it is made, and who makes it. Related images and video segments should inspire a variety of responses and provoke new ways of thinking about possible answers.

Why is art important? What role does art play in our society? What value is placed upon artists and their art, and why?

Doris Salcedo. Installation at 8th International Istanbul Biennial, detail, 2003. © Doris Salcedo. Courtesy the Alexander and Bonin, New York.

"The Istanbul Biennial piece relates to an historical event. But that event had been forgotten, entirely forgotten. The people of the city did not make the direct connection. But it gave me the opportunity to bring many aspects alive, especially in a society where memories are repressed. I don't think it's important to know the event because humankind behaves pretty much the same way all over the world. I don't see differences between religions or culture. And so, what I'm trying to get out of these pieces is that element that is common in all of us. And in a situation of war, we all experience it much the same way, either as victim or perpetrator. So, I'm not narrating a particular story. I'm just addressing experiences."
—Doris Salcedo

Watch: Jeff Koons in "Fantasy"