David Thompson
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August 21, 2013

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Anna

She actually uses the word 'empowering'.

Wow.

David

She actually uses the word ‘empowering’.

Ah, well, that’s because she’s “speaking against patriarchal systems.” As will be obvious from this large nylon tongue. Which, sadly, doesn’t scream. When not making enormous howling vaginas, she also does things on canvas.

Tremble, you patriarchs!

David Gillies

It's nice to see things are sufficiently hunky-dory with the South African prison system that it can afford to install a giant son-et-lumière vajayjay. I don't know whether to feel enlightened by Kali's Tunnel of Love™ or abashed at my patriarchal nature. It's a good job we've got Reshma around, cos that bourgeoisie ain't gonna épater itself. I'll leave it to others to decide who or what comes out of this story looking like the biggest twat.

David

What struck me is how predictable the pretensions of so many artists have become, regardless of the country or the artist’s background. The prevalence of pseudo-academic theorising and leftish, anti-bourgeois politics has made it all so uniform. And I can’t help thinking it’s telling that the artist’s giant vagina features, quite prominently, a large photo of herself.

David

And then there’s the apparent belief that the way to Smash The Patriarchy™ is to do something that fits perfectly with the pretensions of the modern gallery-visiting set. As if Johannesburg’s installation art crowd were teeming with patriarchs who’d tremble at the sight of a velvet tunnel and then hastily rethink their woman-crushing worldview.

It’s as if these people have had their self-awareness surgically removed.

tempdog

If it's "a gloabal vagina", shouldn't the gloabal rectum be located nearby?

David Gillies

It is rather amusing (and deeply, deeply annoying) to see how great is the gulf between these 'artists' belief in their abilities to change the world and their actual influence in that regard. It's another manifestation of the hermetic, solipsistic worldview of the far Left. Remember how Penny Dreadful seemed to think that pratting about on an ice floe was somehow meant to achieve such a perfect pitch of consciousness-raising that all the Gaia-rapers would suddenly have the scales fall from their eyes? Of course, in the corporeal world the rest of us inhabit, all it seemed to be (and was) was a bunch of self-entitled parasites having a jolly at taxpayers' expense and 'moulding the discourse' or whathaveyou not one iota.

Elephants Gerald

Somebody should pay the gallery a visit with a load of manhole cover-sized sequins and give this "work of art" the vajazzling it so richly deserves!

He-He..Manhole.......

sackcloth and ashes

'What struck me is how predictable the pretensions of so many artists have become, regardless of the country or the artist’s background. The prevalence of pseudo-academic theorising and leftish, anti-bourgeois politics has made it all so uniform. And I can’t help thinking it’s telling that the artist’s giant vagina features, quite prominently, a large photo of herself'.

'It is rather amusing (and deeply, deeply annoying) to see how great is the gulf between these 'artists' belief in their abilities to change the world and their actual influence in that regard. It's another manifestation of the hermetic, solipsistic worldview of the far Left'.

About a year ago the South African police gunned down 34 striking miners at the Marikana mine, committing the worst massacre the country had experienced since the end of apartheid. The contact wounds and the postures of many of the dead strongly suggest that they were summarily executed, and that there was no conceivable justification for the police officers to shoot them.

And the response of this 'artist' is to create a giant cunt.

I am stunned. I am really stunned.

The left used to have men and women, some of them scribblers and painters, whose commitment to 'empowerment' meant making a positive and courageous effort to fight for the oppressed against their oppressors, even if it meant taking a certain risk with life and liberty. South Africa had a good number of these individuals - white and black - during the apartheid era. Granted, more than a few of them were adherents of a political philosophy that was in practice more cruel and unequal than the system they were fighting, but whilst you could question their politics, you could not question their guts.

Nowadays, however, Chhiba and her ilk find that meaningless displays like this constitute 'courageous activism'. So she adorns a disused jail with a super-vagina whilst survivors from Marikana are languishing in a real one. How sickening.

David

It’s scary to people raised with certain patriarchal values...Not many people – men or women – are unfazed about walking through this vaginal canal.

I’m also tickled by how Ms Chhiba has to tell us just how scary and “fazing” her artwork is – and not just to a few delicate souls, mind, but supposedly to almost everyone.

bgates

It’s as if these people have had their self-awareness surgically removed.

There's your macho fixation with extractive procedures again.

JuliaM

Sometimes, there really are no words. Wow. I always thought that was just an expression...

JuliaM

" As will be obvious from this large nylon tongue."

Hey, put these two together and...

Never mind.

David

Hey, put these two together and...

Julia’s gripped by some womanly hysteria. Someone fetch whiskey, stat. And towels.

Gene

David Gillies' first comment wins the thread.

David

There’s your macho fixation with extractive procedures again.

I denounce myself. Someone fire up the correction booth. Maximum setting.

JuliaM

No need to bother with towels. I never spill...whisky. ;)

watcher

The artist probably approached the prison authorities and said: "I want to put a giant pussy in one of your jails"

Imagine how surprised the authorities were to discover it wasn't a feline at all.

Brian, follower of Deornoth

Tsk, tsk. Not wheelchair-accessible, is it?

dicentra

Leftist Camille Paglia weighs in, generally:

The avant-garde was a magnificent and revolutionary phase in the history of art, but it’s completely over. Artists and galleries must (in Ann Landers’ immortal words) wake up and smell the coffee! The avant-garde, whose roots were in late-18th-century Romanticism, was a reaction against a strong but suffocating classical tradition. The great modernist artists, from Picasso to James Joyce, were trained in that tradition, which gave audacity and power to their subversion of it.

But then modernism began to feed on itself, and it became weaker and weaker. As I argue in “Glittering Images,” there has been nothing genuinely avant-garde since Andy Warhol except for Robert Mapplethorpe’s luminous homoerotic images of the sadomasochistic underground. Everything that calls itself avant-garde today is just a tedious imitation of earlier and far superior modernist art. The art world has become an echo chamber of commercially inflated rhetoric, shallow ironies and monolithic political ideology.

XRay

No offense meant, please. But how topsy turvy a world where this person receives even a word of commentary, from anyone, anywhere. I'd have more but I'm somewhat under the weather at the moment. A condition which, thirty meters into a giant vagina, I feel I'm entitled to, as I see no satisfaction at the end, but a giant flensing instead. Ouch.

Joan

"It's a global vagina," said Chhiba.

I thought she was being ironic until I heard the interview. Where do you find these people?

Henry

I wonder if this prison will eventually get together with a high security men's jail. Soon they'd have 1 or 2 juvenile detention centres running about in the prison yard.

Though I doubt any men's prison would be man enough. 12 metres..! Crikey

David

I thought she was being ironic until I heard the interview. Where do you find these people?

They’re not exactly hard to find. These things make up quite a large percentage of what gets subsidised and promoted. See, for instance, this recent Arts Council funding list, which is not at all unusual. Our betters seem to believe this is the kind of thing that’s good for us. Because they already have our money and they know best. The Arts Council and similar bodies don’t exist to give the public what it might want. They exist to tell us what we should want. They have to maintain their own role as subsidised intermediary, as correctors of popular taste.

As for irony and self-awareness, I suppose you have to ask what kind of person talks about “transgression” and the “empowering” effects of “global vaginas” with a straight face, and how would self-awareness benefit that kind of person’s ego? I mean, a flickering of realism might undermine their career, their entire personality. They might stop and realise, “Oh shit, I’m not very good at this.” And who wants to think of themselves as hackneyed, fraudulent or fundamentally ridiculous? A little self-awareness could be a very hazardous thing.

Which may help explain why so much contemporary art is premised on condescension, unrealism and self-flattery. Typically, there are two rather dubious assumptions. Firstly, that the artist is supposed to be an intellectual, an educator, a corrective of some kind. Secondly, that the rest of us are dull-eyed bourgeois rubes who’ll be scandalised and transgressed by whatever hackneyed tat is dumped in front of us, and that this will be good thing and deserving of public subsidy. See, for instance, the artist Mikala Dwyer, who’s “challenging taboos” and “transforming the world” by inviting dancers to shit onstage. It’s a “wonderful, powerful work,” we’re told. If the self-flattery isn’t quite explicit enough, there are the haughty assumptions of Ms Stefanie Elrick. who imagines that the people mocking her must be “uneasy” and “frightened of losing their co-ordinates.” A conceit that fits perfectly with that of the artist Michael Craig Martin, who tells Guardian readers that if we, the lowly punters, aren’t impressed by such things, it must be our fault. Because the artist is never fraudulent, or incompetent, or just full of shit.

And these are not uncommon views.

JuliaM

I'll just leave this here, shall I?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/22/honi-soit-vulvas-censorship

;)

David

I’ll just leave this here, shall I?

I’m not familiar with the kind of thing I’m seeing.

JuliaM

Quite how an article on vulvas can be such a lot of bollocks is the sort of body transformation only CiF could pull off...

rjmadden

We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas.

A classic Guardian sentence, surely?

David

We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas.

Some people really, really want to make that victimhood their own.

present & correct

i found out my gf had a global vagina.
She's not my gf anymore.

Patrick Brown

On the one hand, lad mags that put semi-naked women on the cover must be censored. On the other, a student magazine that puts female genitalia on the cover is censored, and they're horrified. Consistent as ever.

Franklin

She also does things on canvas.

Well said.

What you're looking at in all these cases is the conflation of political progressiveness and aesthetic progressiveness. There's the conspicuous display of such commingled progressiveness before, and after the denigration of detractors as conservative philistines, understood both artistically and politically. Most of these detractors are imaginary - the majority response is a shrug, and that's to say nothing of all the people who never hear about it in the first place due to the fact that they don't follow art because it's consistently disappointing. Even to linger as long as we do over such examples for the purpose of poking fun at them is more attention than they receive in the main.

David

the majority response is a shrug, and that’s to say nothing of all the people who never hear about it in the first place due to the fact that they don’t follow art because it’s consistently disappointing.

Absolutely. There’s a learned disinterest. There are only so many minutes a sane person can spend rubbing his chin while looking vainly at banal objects and lengthy press releases that all seem to use the same 62 words. What’s funny is that the people responsible for such tat - and for the subsequent lack of public interest - also howl with moral outrage when their public funding gets trimmed.

[ Added: ]

For instance, a number of the people behind this exercise in ego and pretension have bemoaned cuts to arts funding as if it were a scandal. And yet, needless to say, the event in question wasn’t of great interest to the public and the project’s online videos have been similarly ignored. We’re talking a few dozen views, many of which will be from readers of this blog. But that’s the thing. People will, occasionally, head across town and hand over their money to see something beautiful and compelling. They’re less inclined to bankroll pseudo-cerebral chest-puffing that disdains craft and aesthetics. And no amount of blather about “performativity,” “critical concerns” and “non-didactic creative frequency” will change that.

R.Sherman

It's no wonder. When the actual "battles" these people are fighting in their minds become ever less significant, their "art" celebrating same becomes ever more grandiose. I'm reminded of the photos of tin-pot dictators with a zillion medals pinned to their chests. Impressive at first blush perhaps, until one realizes there's no "there" there.

Rob

What a c***

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Julia M:

Somebody in another forum posted that article, and my response was that Australia's equivalent of frat boys ought to take selfies of their penises, publish them, and say, "Don't you dare tell me my body offends you."

Something tells me there would be a rather different reaction.

jimmy

"Don't you dare tell me my body offends you."

Or else what? They'll write more melodramatic articles about vagina anxiety? The horror!

dcardno

...we don’t want to feel fearful when we have a first sexual encounter with a partner who may judge us because of our vaginas.

Right - because after all, men never have to worry about anything like that.

Reed

I'm having trouble locating the clitoris. :(

Rob Crawford

South Africa had a good number of these individuals - white and black - during the apartheid era. Granted, more than a few of them were adherents of a political philosophy that was in practice more cruel and unequal than the system they were fighting, but whilst you could question their politics, you could not question their guts.

Perhaps a number of those people, having found themselves on the winning side, are now not as interested in "fighting the man" or "speaking truth to power"?

Rod Rescueman

Aw heck, she had me at "It's a global vagina."

Semper Why

“It’s scary to people raised with certain patriarchal values,” she told the Sunday Times.

Madame, I have been down many a vagina. Yours doesn't scare me in the least.

David B.

They are so cartoonish. The Onion would have a real hard time trying to parody these vagina warriors.

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