David Thompson
Blog powered by Typepad

« Not Much Tweeting in Antarctica | Main | Friday Ephemera »

February 04, 2013



Contains nudity, writhing and vegetable slurry.

I don't know whether to laugh or despair.


You mustn’t laugh. They’re visionaries.

Andrew JH

A portrait of our time.

Oh but it is, David. Just not the way they think it is.


Oh but it is, David. Just not the way they think it is.

Well, I suppose you could think of it as an inadvertently satirical comment on what happens when you publicly subsidise and encourage narcissistic tat, and on the people attracted to such things. By that measure, it’s a triumph.


It's not the art that offends me, it's the way I'm threatened and extorted from to fund it.


It’s not the art that offends me…

I suspect the assumption is that if one doesn’t pretend to like such things, one must therefore be offended or scandalised in some way. Which I suppose is kind of funny. Offhand, I can’t think of anyone I know who’d be offended by, say, onstage nudity or by watching people smeared with liquidised carrot writhing unconvincingly on a sheet of polythene. That’s just hackneyed and tedious. As you say, what’s objectionable is the presumption, the parasitic funding, and the sense of being palmed off with aesthetically vacuous shite.

[ Added: ]

But many art students have been led to believe that their primary function is to be transgressive and political - provided the politics is incoherent and/or leftwing - and thereby to unnerve and correct the rest of us with their “critiques,” “explorations” and radical cleverness. Or, as the anti-capitalist parasite John Jordan put it, the role of the artist is to “show us how to live differently.” Which is of course a lot of self-flattering bollocks. From the customer’s point of view, the function of the artist is quite simple. To make beautiful images, objects and experiences that the rest of us might like and even want to pay for. But if you sneer at the idea that artists should have customers who pay for art directly, and instead insist on state bureaucracies and coercive taxpayer subsidy, then the expectations of the public can be sidestepped and quickly made irrelevant. Inevitably, you’ll get a mountain of naff conceptual noodling that’s contemptuous of aesthetics, and by extension contemptuous of the public, which is still forced to bankroll whatever tat is produced.


I think Ms Vestergaard's next assignment should be to follow poor people around for the next 3 months, seeing how they work in shit jobs and are taxed money they cannot afford to allow this vacuous waste of breath the opportunity to fuck about doing nothing.

She might even learn some humility.


She might even learn some humility.

I think we both know that’s unlikely to happen. It isn’t who she is.

Though it’s interesting how so many ‘egalitarian’ artists slip into the role of parasite, as if it were their right and destiny. Ms Vestergaard, for instance, longs for a place to escape “the choking effects of the market,” a place where she and her peers can air their “radical and uncompromising thoughts.” Ms Vestergaard and her associates are precious flowers and are choked by the free market, which after all implies a reciprocal arrangement with whoever’s footing the bill. A parasitic relationship, in which the taxpayer has no say, is coerced, and is essentially irrelevant, is much more liberating.

For her, that is. Not the little people.

stick insect

I enjoyed your verbal beheading of Joan Brady. Nicely done.


stick insect,

Glad you were entertained. Though she did rather put her own head on the block.


To be fair, some of the artists seem a bit wiser:

""I think it's amazing there are public subsidies," says Paterson. "But I think there's a danger to it as well. Nobody owes me a living and if I'm going to spend someone's money, I want to be able to give it back to them. Obviously it would be nice to go on holiday a bit more often and not be worrying about money, but I have this whole theory that when people get too comfortable, they become rarefied.

"If you have a computer and a degree, you're already in the top 1% of the planet, so why should I get to float around without having to earn a living? I want to earn my stripes. I don't want anyone to say, 'You don't deserve to be here.'""

Also depressing, btw, is how the author can't think of any way of supporting artists other than state subsidies.


“I don’t want anyone to say, ‘You don’t deserve to be here’.”

I suppose the question is whether that’s now the prevailing view among artists, or a minority one. I wouldn’t care to guess, but there are plenty of columnists, artists and students who insist, quite emphatically, that screwing money out of the taxpayer, rather than earning it, maintains their integrity.


Clearly to be forced to produce something of palpable value is demeaning, and dulls the artist's disruptive transgression of the human soul.

Or some such horse shit.

I don't blame the parasites who demand we support their con game. I blame us for letting them get away with it much of the time. A truly advanced society would laugh uproariously at their ridiculous pretensions and send them on their way, perhaps with some "Help Wanted" ads in their back pocket.

Andy O

From the customer’s point of view, the function of the artist is quite simple. To make beautiful images, objects and experiences that the rest of us might like and even want to pay for.

That would be enough. I wish more 'artists' would try it.


That would be enough. I wish more ‘artists’ would try it.

Well, it’s not an easy thing to do. Creating something beautiful is hard. Which may explain the extensive public funding of things like this, which has less aesthetic content than my smart phone’s interface. And there’s quite a lot of muddling and inversion going on. Even government ministers now bang on about the need for art to be “challenging” and “iconoclastic.” A development that, as Fabian Tassano noted, suggests no actual challenge or iconoclasm is likely to take place, or indeed be welcome.

The socialist film director Ken Loach has repeatedly told us that creative people – people like him - should be “challenging… rude… disturbing” and of course “critical” (but only of certain things – I doubt he’d welcome a rude and disturbing critique of rent-seeking socialists and Arts Council freeloaders). Creative people, he says, should be “independent” and “not part of the establishment.” And he says all this while demanding even more state subsidy and even more state bureaucracy for people like himself to be cultural supervisors. Because screwing the public with the force of government is apparently what independent, challenging, anti-establishment types do.

It’s all quite peculiar.

The comments to this entry are closed.

For Amazon US use this link .

Your filthy consumerism supports this blog.