Brian on Art

Regular readers will know of my fondness for Brian Micklethwait’s blog and his narrative, no nonsense style of writing.

Today, Brian gave us a collage of Anthony Gormley’s exhibit(s?) in London during the summer of 2007. But it wasn’t the pictures that piqued my interest so much as Brian’s commentary:

For some damn fool artistic type reason that need not concern us unless we want it to, Gormley called these Men “Event Horizon”.  (Artists who make nice things but talk bollocks about them are a characteristic type of our time, I think.  I don’t blame them.  If they didn’t talk bollocks they’d never get their careers cranked up.  Anyway, it makes a change from a generation ago, when the things they made were almost entirely bollocks also.) The Gormley Men are all based on Gormley himself.

Critic Howard Halle (see here) out-Gormleyed Gormley by saying this:

“Using distance and attendant shifts of scale within the very fabric of the city, [Event Horizon] creates a metaphor for urban life and all the contradictory associations – alienation, ambition, anonymity, fame – it entails.”

Whatever.  In other words, you see in these metal Men whatever you want to see, much as you see whatever you want to see when confronting actual men.

I can’t agree with Brian that what artists produce these days is any better than what artists produced a generation ago. Lest we forget that during this year’s (at least partially) publicly-funded “Infecting The City” arts “festival” in Cape Town:

City “treasures”, including King Edward’s statue on the Grand Parade, were covered in clingwrap and trees on the station forecourt were draped in toilet paper.

Which, to me, almost entirely indicates that things in the art world really haven’t moved on at all in the last 30 years.

Post 903

Post 903
(title assigned automatically by an annoyingly slow WordPress (see below) and which I have neither the will nor the imagination to change to anything more interesting)

Stuff I have noted over the last few days:

1. The internet in South Africa has been even worse than usual of late. I blamed my ISP, my ISP blamed Telkom and Telkom blamed Ndujani.
It turns out (following extensive research) that Ndujani is a mongoose god, worshipped by some tribes in the Northern Cape. Any claim that Telkom is merely passing the buck is met with the standard, “Please don’t turn this into a cultural issue, Mr 6000”.
More likely is that one (or more) of their ADSL hamsters which keep the internet working by running around their little wheels in Bloemfontein has died or gone on strike or something. Probably over a cultural issue.

2. The Oscars were on. A celebration of Hollywood excess while everyone else suffers the wrath of the global credit crunch.
More salt with your wound, sir?
I’m not a big fan of the movies, but was pleased to see that Kate Winslet finally won something after so many bare-breasted cinematographic moments. Had to be worth it in the end, hey? (But please don’t stop now – you could win again!)
One thing I found shocking was that, even though winning a little gold man surely marks the pinnacle of any actor’s career, Keith Ledger couldn’t even be bothered to turn up and receive his award for Best Supporting Actor. What a snub. They should have given it to someone else. It’s just plain bad manners.

3. I’m concerned over a tectonic shift in my musical tastes of late. Away from decent Indie and Nu-metal towards irritatingly-catchy Brit-pop, hip-hop, rap and pumpin’ House.
As I write this, I have David Guetta’s Joan of Arc on the iPod. Actually, to give everyone credit, it’s actually David Guetta (featuring Thailand). It remains unclear whether everyone in Thailand (pop. 60.5 million) played their part, but if so, then they probably shouldn’t have bothered.
[Mental note to self: Check up on most ridiculous names of “featured artists” for future blog post]

4. Twitter isn’t actually that good. Either you follow too few people and nothing ever happens, you follow too many and everything happens too quickly or one person (no names, sorry) fills your screen with rubbish for the sake of putting something (usually about cooking) on twitter.
I’m left debating whether the very occasional good bits are worth the very regular daily disappointments. Le jury est out, as the French would say.

5. I saw a “collaborative project” in the Art Spot of the newspaper yesterday:

Trasi Henen curates a collaborative project [see?] called I Forget That You Exist’ at the Cape Town gallery, Blank Projects. Participants were asked to engage with the following Dialectic: Dominant culture is a victim of the Will (after Schopenhauer’s The World as Idea and Representation) and therefore perpetually oscillating between Desire and Ennui. Desire is a state of potentiality.
When the desired destination is reached, is this a tragedy?

Sometimes I forget that you exist is a collaborative research project around desire and the heterotopia. Participants are asked to engage with the above dialectic. The exhibition process is ongoing, and contingent, culminating in a closing event. In the two weeks leading up the exhibition, blank becomes the research studio which opens the project to dialogue and interventions.

Something for everyone to think about there, then.

I was once asked (in a 1992 interview for a place at Wolverhampton Poly, no less) if money spent on the Arts is a waste. I wish I’d seen stuff like this before they asked – it would have made a rather stuttered, awkward answer much simpler. (Because there’s obviously nothing more beneficial that Trasi could be doing for the world).