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April 24, 2014

Comments

Sam

If I video the taxpayers of Saskatoon as they burn down the local council building would that count as art?

Atempdog

re: the video
She should have just filmed an actual homeless person eating an apple. A teenager with a cell phone camera could come up with better if you asked them.

re: the "woodcut on shipping label"
This is meta-art. The real art goes on when she pitches this to whoever pays her to do this. That's where her real talent is, and it is formidable.

Anon

golden apple of coveted perpetual youth

The what? The only coveted 'golden apple' I can think of is that one that begins the Iliad, and that has nothing to do with youth.

Anyone any idea to what this is referring?

rjmadden

Don't hold back, David.

Anna

Apparently she’s “provoking complex conversations.”

"We think it's shit" is now a "complex conversation"?

Steve 2: Steveageddon

It's nice to see Skinny Pete enjoying life after Breaking Bad.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Anon - Iduna's golden apples. They kept the Aesir young.

Cole

Apparently she’s “provoking complex conversations.” By which Ms Haftner means, the public’s dislike of her work and its taxpayer funding somehow validates both.

Heh.

Custard Cream

Shouldn't "i.e. showing your tits on ChatRoulette" be "e.g. showing your tits on ChatRoulette"?

Or is that hopelessly patriarchical? Maybe I should denounce myself.

David

Heh.

Well, as we’ve seen, many times, it’s a standard hustle. Being unable to produce anything of actual aesthetic value, a value waved aside as being “problematic,” the hustler affects some intellectual or sociological excuse for taking public money and wasting everyone’s time. And when that fails and their pretence of talent and insight is derided by the people being screwed, the hustler then claims that the mixture of derision and fatigued indifference is somehow a validation of their “work,” and by extension its funding. As if the mockery and contempt were intended all along. And so Ms Haftner insists she’s been “successful” in “promoting dialogue about public work in the city of Saskatoon.” That the “dialogue” is much less “complex” that she pretends - and near unanimous in its disdain for her “work” and its exploitative funding - is somehow overlooked.

It’s how narcissists often manage their own incompetence.

Webley Silvernail

Nice variation on the typical tinfoil hat these moonbats usually wear.

Rosseuage.wordpress.com

Some art can evoke a degree of pain but these days there's an excess of 'pain in the arts'.

Mags

And so Ms Haftner insists she’s been “successful” in “promoting dialogue about public work in the city of Saskatoon.”

I learned that 'taxpayer funded artist' is now basically interchangeable with 'village idiot'.

Franklin

What's striking about this video is that it comes with explanatory text that provides both the backstory and the interpretation in a seamless paragraph of artist-supplied exegesis. A "waste-induced Saskatchewan apocalypse" followed by an evolution of produce upon which trash-clad survivors are forced to feed could be a great story if portrayed by someone with the talent and work ethic to execute it well, at which point interpretation could be left to the proper party, the viewer. Instead it's so lame that the artist has to tell us both what's going on and what to think about it.

OJ

'Beauty' or indeed any kind of artistic excellence is rarely a criteria when commissioning public art these days. I've been involved in this kind of thing before and the commissioning body is always far more concerned with meaning and how the work fits in with whatever agenda they wish to push at the time – usually some bollocks about community or inclusivity or whatever. Artists who win these commissions often have ridiculous constraints imposed upon them – a certain ratio of black to white people is one I've had to contend with before. In addition, the artists who win the commissions are the ones whose proposal contains all the right buzzwords and pretentious artspeak. That's the real skill.

Another issue is that the bureaucrats in charge of the commissioning process are usually aesthetically illiterate and have to rely on working through some sort of checklist in order to determine artistic worth. Hence the monstrosity in Saskatoon: it doesn't look good but it has the right message so what's the problem?

David

Instead it’s so lame that the artist has to tell us both what’s going on and what to think about it.

Absolutely. Just as Ms Casey Jenkins felt obliged to tells us, repeatedly, just how “brave” and “downright seditious” she is. On account of cramming yarn inside her snatch. And just as Ms Reshma Chhiba felt a need to tell we lowly punters how incredibly alarming and “fazing” her quilted vaginal corridor was. A quilted vaginal corridor with a photo of her own face positioned at the end of it.

[ Edited. ]

pst314

“emerging through notions of tradition, satire, gender, archive, labour, and transience.”

I have noticed that talented artists rarely say much about what their work means. To a small degree this is because visual artists tend to not be all that verbal in how they express themselves (no surprise), but the chief reasons are that they feel the work should speak for itself and words are either superfluous or an actual hindrance, and second because they are too busy making real art to waste their time speaking bullsh*t.

Stan

Hang on a second, if some garbage is good, more garbage must be better!
Dump all your old garbage either at the site of this 'art' or at the entrance to city hall.
Or copy that crap and erect it outside the homes of the councillors who voted to add 1% public art funding to every contract.
If garbage is art, let's get at it!

Anon

Ah, thanks, 'Steve 2: Steveageddon'. Let the chains of Fenric shatter.

David

I have noticed that talented artists rarely say much about what their work means.

Well, beauty - visual pleasure - tends to be self-explanatory. It’s generally sufficient. If the thing you’ve made is doing what art can do, there’s no great need for exposition or laughably contrived textual or political validation. But if an artist dismisses the need for art to have some aesthetic appeal, any at all, then why does whatever’s left over warrant the term ‘art’? And why should it deserve the customary status and attention, deference, or indeed the public funding - all of which is chiefly on account of some promise of an aesthetic reward? And when an artist mouths the usual bollocks about any reaction being better than none, as Ms Haftner does, this isn’t an aesthetic criterion; it’s the creed of a narcissist, or a delinquent child.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Anon - may you dip your beard in the blood of your fallen foes! May the bridge bifrost tremble under the wheels of your chariot! And on the glorious day of Ragnarok may you singlehandedly vajazzle Ratatoskr, who is disguised as Laurie Penny.

don morris

Well, she may have the talent of a Michaelangelo, but she has the eating habits and manners of an ordinary pig, swine,that is.

Just another talentless con artist.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Keeley, sweet Keeley.

Grant-guzzling gorgon of garbage.

https://mobile.twitter.com/KeeleyHaftner/photo

Shall I compare thee to Jason Mewes?

http://www.nndb.com/people/238/000027157/mewes-sized.jpg

Thou art more derelicte than Derek Zoolander.

You look like one of the boys from Hanson

Went crazy like Charlie Manson.

This poetry is not free.

So now you must pay me.

present & correct

steve, steve, steve, steve 2
your poem's too good, it's just not poo.
and fuck off, you won't get a grant,
unless you're lefty bien-pensant.

Joe

I see a couple of blank, stacked cubes in need of decoration. Perhaps a whimsical WALL-E interpretation, applied via Sharpie to the plastic wrap. It would be a more effective and permanent defacement of the piece, but it creates the problem of making this waste of taxpayer dollars more palatable.

The local businesses might even arrange to provide a cash incentive to a struggling artist capable of such a feat. Something on the order of the cost of a tarp and some rope?

James

Steve2 has shown us why "more poetry is needed".

Nate Whilk

This is my favorite comedy sketch about art: The Cutlery Exhibition from "Saturday Night Fry". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V22NdMydqbg#t=4m37s

A transcript turns up with a little Googling.

David

“We think it’s shit” is now a “complex conversation”?

I think what’s amusing is the determined obliviousness. On her Facebook page, Ms Haftner claims to be puzzled and “disconcerted” by the annoyed reaction to her ‘sculpture’ and its funding. “I’m a taxpayer too,” says she, before bemoaning how “artists are paid so little and so seldom,” as if that were the fault of someone else. As if her own efforts somehow made that scandalous.

It doesn’t seem to occur to her that locals might well have reason to feel scammed or treated with disdain - by Ms Haftner, who remains obstinately self-righteous, and by the city councillors who piss away the money other people had to earn. Apparently Ms Haftner has trouble comprehending the most common complaints: That city taxes have risen again, up another $100 or more, and yet still don’t seem to cover basics like road maintenance and garbage collection. Despite which, $40,000 is being “made available” to people who call themselves artists but who don’t think their job is to make anything beautiful. And who find it amusing to add garbage to the street.

Dan

I think if I lived there I would simply place a sign over it explaining how much it had cost in tax dollars.

Hal

The artist in question, Keeley Haftner, describes her work as “emerging through notions of tradition, satire, gender, archive, labour, and transience.”

Meh. I much prefer instead the immensely more entertaining and informative Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you.


And no skipping to the end.

Nah. I simply hopped my way through the middle bits on the way to the end. Doing that, I established in about 30 seconds that the other six minutes had nothing to present that could have been better done with a single still photograph.---and of course the explanatory paragraph would still be needed, because after all, the paragraph is basically the point of the whole exercise . . . .

OJ

I'd assumed that the Keeley Haftner's choice of conceptual art as a 'mode of expression' (as she would doubtless phrase it) was to disguise a lack of real artistic talent, but no! – her website reveals that she can paint and is actually pretty good. What are we to make of that?

Minnow

I'd assumed that the Keeley Haftner's choice of conceptual art as a 'mode of expression' (as she would doubtless phrase it) was to disguise a lack of real artistic talent, but no! – her website reveals that she can paint and is actually pretty good. What are we to make of that?

I don't think she is a very good painter judging by the stuff linked. But if she were, I think it would just prove that even good artists can make mediocre or bad work. I don't see why there is so much vitriol aimed at someone for making an artwork that we don't think is any good. Most artworks at all times have been no good, that's why making art is risky. Mixing it up with anger over misspent tax dollars is just silly. I completely agree that city councils should not be in the business of commissioning art and that the results are nearly always disasterous when they do, but I can't blame Ms Haftner for taking the job when they offered it.

David

Mixing it up with anger over misspent tax dollars is just silly.

I suspect the grumbling taxpayers of Saskatoon may take a different view. There’s also the issue, discussed at length here, of whether coercive public subsidy, which disables normal market feedback, encourages the production of tat. Especially conceptual tat, which receives taxpayer funding way out of proportion to any discernible public appetite.

It seems to me that if you isolate makers of art from their customers, their patrons, and from the consequences of their own inadequacy – which is what, for instance, our own Arts Council does – the result will often be what Sam Duncan called a “cargo culture.” Which is to say, we very often get what a narrow and politically homogenous social group thinks the public ought to like, whether it does or not, and whether or not that public would pay for such things voluntarily.

If artists and pseudo-artists get paid anyway, in advance, why should the artist try to make something beautiful, which is after all difficult, or try to please the public, or maybe even see their own aesthetic shortcomings and do something else? Without direct customer feedback, where’s the corrective mechanism for discouraging tat?

Minnow

Well I don't disagree with much of that although most of the best known 'conceptual artists' actually owe their wealth to the free market not state subsidy - Tracey Emin did it the hard way, shifting units to individuals - but I think it is a bit daft to moan about Ms Haftner and the like. It's not her fault that she isn't very good and it's not her fault that the local council have a terrible art commissioning process.

Joan

it's not her fault that the local council have a terrible art commissioning process.

Then maybe we don't need local councils to have an 'art commissioning process'.

OJ

I don't think she is a very good painter judging by the stuff linked.

You're right, her paintings aren't anything special but she is technically proficient which is surprising given that most conceptual artists (Emin, for instance) can't draw, paint or sculpt for shit. What I find odd is that someone with actual artistic ability would chose to express themselves in the way that she does. I imagine it has something to do with the education she's received – there's a lot of pressure on fine art students to avoid making representational art.

David

most of the best known ‘conceptual artists’ actually owe their wealth to the free market not state subsidy

The best known, like the bestsellers in almost any cultural sphere; though many have been recipients of public subsidy earlier in their careers. And the vast majority of conceptual flummery is in no way self-supporting. See, for example… well, pretty much anything here tagged ‘art’. Which is why you can find any number of expensive, heavily publicised conceptual noodling sessions that were attended, if at all, by a handful of people, mostly friends of the artist. Along with promotional videos, paid for by the public, in which artists speak of their “practice” and their “critiques” of this and that, with lots of theory-heavy chest-puffing. Videos that in many cases have been viewed by maybe five or six people.

And of course there’s no consequence for this, no price to pay, as would normally be the case, in terms of ticket sales and attendance. The Arts Council already has our wallet so why should they or their protégés care whether anyone turns up or finds what’s on offer remotely interesting or credible? The only ones paying a price are the bored or alienated members of the public. The ones who hear lots of guff about “our” collective culture, while wondering why they’re paying for a table covered in fag ends, a car full of junk or a felt-tip pen hanging from the underside of a chair.

OJ

Without direct customer feedback, where’s the corrective mechanism for discouraging tat?

The market is actually the major factor in the dominance of conceptual art in recent years. Waste of public funds on this kind of rubbish is of course worth being angry about but it is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The market does not in fact encourage art to which the public can relate but rather reflects the taste of private collectors and gallerists such as Charles Saatchi and Lary Gargoisan whose spending power gives them enormous influence.

David

Waste of public funds on this kind of rubbish is of course worth being angry about but it is a symptom of the problem

What kind of art individuals spend their own money is none of my concern (or, dare I say it, yours). There’s nothing to be done about it. But what kind of art the state spends our earnings on, supposedly for our betterment, is another matter. If Saatchi buys some piece of crap that’s his business; it isn’t being done in my name, or yours, or at our expense.

I imagine it has something to do with the education she’s received.

I think a big part of the problem is that art students are often led to believe that art ought to be “about” something in order to justify its existence. That self-evident beauty is merely “decoration” and somehow “problematic.” Over the years I’ve mentioned several art educators who make this point explicitly. And it isn’t hard to find artists, critics and curators, even government ministers, who bang on about how art should above all be “challenging” rather than, say, pleasing or captivating or rewarding to experience. There’s lots of “exploration” and “interrogation” going on, albeit in oddly dull and inconclusive ways.

Delivering aesthetic pleasure, even wonderment, is, for some, no longer fashionable or sufficient, or sufficiently flattering to themselves. It’s also of course quite difficult. In many cases, visual ingenuity and the ability to captivate have given way to sociology and pretensions of intellectualism. Even talented people can be steered into this cul-de-sac. And of course art no longer has any kind of monopoly on visual pleasure – it’s now a poor relation to commercial culture - a fringe concern, and often disreputable. Maybe the reliance on textual validation and pseudo-intellectual posturing is an attempt to retain some sense of status and cultural importance. If only among themselves.

Minnow

Yes, I think OJ is right, the rage for conceptualism was started by the artworld's deliberate turn towards the free market and money, with Damien in the vanguard, not the state sector and its subsidies. We get this sort of stuff because that is the sort of stuff millionaires want.

I think a big part of the problem is that art students are often led to believe that art ought to be “about” something in order to justify its existence. That self-evident beauty is merely “decoration” and somehow “problematic.”

Art is 'about' something and must be and always has been. There is no such thing as 'self-evident beauty' as the history of kitsch shows. 'Beauty' is always serving a purpose. Many of thgreatest artworks are in not beautiful at all, in any of the usual meanings of the word. Goya, anyone?`Modernism has struggled with this, tried to drive meaning out of art but they just couldn't do it. The conceptualists have just accepted that modernism was a dream, it was chasing a shadow (in that regard anyway).

Delivering aesthetic pleasure ... [is] also of course quite difficult.

It's not, it is easy. Any photograph of any attractively dressed, attractive young person will do it. But it won't give you the aesthetic experience you want from art.

David

We get this sort of stuff because that is the sort of stuff millionaires want.

Millionaires may get what they want to pay for, but the high-spend circuit for tat is somewhat removed from, say, my local modish galleries, neither of which is frequented by browsing millionaires and both of which are wholly reliant on taxpayer subsidy. And neither of which can claim a magnetic hold on the cultural lives of the local population. I estimate the average number of daily visitors at one of them as maybe a dozen or so. The naff art that figures in those local galleries – the aforementioned table covered in fag ends and other delights - are generally part of a very different circuit, one that feeds almost exclusively on public subsidy. For this stratum of naffness - which is, I think, what many of us more typically experience - it’s the Arts Council and similar bodies across Europe that are both banker and proving ground. We, not millionaires, are funding it, making it possible.

Without the development cash and institutional reinforcement provided by the Arts Council, which enthuses about such things far more than the general public, I wonder how many peddlers of such tat would be obliged find something else to do, perhaps quite abruptly. Again, I don’t see what one could (or should) do about rich people with bad taste, or who see their purchases chiefly as status markers and investments. But how our own money is spent, supposedly in our name and for our benefit, is more open to debate.

Thornavis.

"Yes, I think OJ is right, the rage for conceptualism was started by the artworld's deliberate turn towards the free market and money,"

Minnow can you tell us when it was that art wasn't geared towards the free market and money ? Not since the late Middle Ages at least and even then the great artistic achievements of church building and decoration were heavily dependent on the Church's commercial activities and the surplus wealth of merchants and landowners. The difference then was that this was both high and popular art combined something the state sponsored artworld has often claimed as a goal but never come remotely near achieving.

David

The spam filter’s a little twitchy. If anyone has trouble with comments not appearing, email me and I’ll push randomly at buttons.

Minnow

Your experiences with local art museums are obviously worse than mine. The last thing I saw at a local gallery, this weekend, was this: http://tinyurl.com/ksvq3k2

And at another nearby gallery, there is this stuff (proper paining OJ): http://tinyurl.com/orhp9gc

Maybe I am just very lucky but it shows that the problem is bad curating and not the idea of public subsidy itself. It is public exhibitions like these that counterbalance the awful taste of Saatchi and friends,and defend the reputations of artists like Frankenthaler, keeping them alive to a public that would other wise have what? And these small galleries still need to attract the people or they close. The funding is not without strings.

David

Maybe I am just very lucky but it shows that the problem is bad curating and not the idea of public subsidy itself.

Sadly, one of the taxpayer-funded galleries I’m thinking of has been, as you put it, badly curated for almost two decades, with no discernible increase in the number of visitors, and no obvious regard for that as an issue. It seems to me that the curatorial problem there is far from unique and very much related to its method of funding, the point of which is largely to bypass public taste, and which doesn’t seem subject to any qualitative or measurable criteria.

I do quite like the feathers, though. Not enormously, but some.

It’s also worth considering the relationship between taxpayer subsidy and political groupthink. Art institutions that rely on coerced public subsidy will tend to favour parties that favour further public subsidy of art institutions. And of course artists who make complementary noises. This too may explain the kind of “bad curating” we’ve been talking about.

[ Edited. ]

Minnow

The feathers were very pretty at any rate. But I am surprised that your gallery is still receiving Arts Council funding if it isn't making visitor targets. That is pretty unusual. The Turner Gallery that is holding the Frankenthaler show, for example, was set very stiff targets. They have beaten them by a large margin because they have such good and popular shows, but not gimmicky, proper art.

David

But I am surprised that your gallery is still receiving Arts Council funding if it isn’t making visitor targets.

Every year I’ve bothered to check, both local and national taxpayers have been bankrolling it, despite its general joylessness and the fact you can always be sure to get an unoccupied table in the café. (The sole reason to visit so far as I can make out.) The amount of subsidy has varied over the years, but not, I think, dramatically. And again, it isn’t just one anomalous gallery; it’s a much broader tendency, as illustrated by the city’s annual taxpayer-funded arts festival, which most years is tediously political and rarely festive. (See update and link in previous comment.)

OJ

David, you're bang-on about arts education. However, what Saatchi spends his money on may not be any or our business but the point is that it does have a profound effect, not just on the art market but on arts education. As Minnow says, what happens in the market does influence what is taught in art schools and furthermore determines the kind of art commissioned by public bodies. The small galleries you're talking about exhibit this kind of work precisely because the tastemakers dictate that's what we should be consuming. As you've noticed, there's very little demand for it from the general public.

Having said this, Tate Modern is a major cultural destination so there's certainly some appetite for the spectacle and shock value of contemporary art. And perhaps this demonstrates why the market is not a good mechanism for filtering out crap: it is not concerned with any kind of aesthetic criteria but rather with monetary value. The demand is for the work that sells or will increase in value, not for the work with the most artistic worth. Shock and controversy are great selling points for the likes of Saatchi and Jay Jopling and so this is what they promote.

Market forces cannot determine the value of something as subjective as a painting in the same way they can a product like an iPhone. How does the market determine that something like this is a better painting than a mediocre work like this?

David

OJ,

However, what Saatchi spends his money on may not be any of our business but the point is that it does have a profound effect, not just on the art market but on arts education.

I don’t know enough about the prevailing fashions and politics of art education to argue the point, though I have heard others making similar arguments. (See the long discussion on this at Franklin’s place.)

Market forces cannot determine the value of something as subjective as a painting in the same way they can a product like an iPhone.

Well, people tend to buy what they like or regard as valuable. Perhaps people might make those subjective judgments about artistic worth for themselves, insofar as they’re interested. I suppose the question is whether you’re happy with a publicly funded taste-correcting caste steering us to the light. As you can imagine, I’m a tad sceptical.

Personally, I don’t care very much about the state of contemporary ‘fine’ art – it’s basically irrelevant to me. I mention it here when I think there’s a larger point to be made, or when I’m being billed for it or am expected to identify with it in some way. Or when it’s bad enough to be funny. The fate of the art world, as something apart from commercial culture and supposedly superior, isn’t something I lose sleep about. I probably pay more attention to developments in smartphones.

David

Incidentally, is anyone else having trouble loading this page in Chrome? Explorer seems to load it okay.

WTP

"Incidentally, is anyone else having trouble loading this page in Chrome? Explorer seems to load it okay."

I was earlier today, but it's working fine now.

BTW, it looks like I dropped a closing italics bracket thingy on the Friday Epiphany thread...again...apologies.

MikeG81

"I don't see why there is so much vitriol aimed at someone for making an artwork that we don't think is any good. Most artworks at all times have been no good, that's why making art is risky. Mixing it up with anger over misspent tax dollars is just silly."

The people whose forcibly taken money was use to fund, literally, garbage, have every right to direct vitriol at the "artist" for being a parasite, and their elected council for doing so.

But I guess when you're someone that believes in the "fairness" of state theft of peoples property, it's better for you to tell people to shut it and take their lumps, right Minnow?

"I can't blame Ms Haftner for taking the job when they offered it."

I can. If she wanted to be "edgy" and "controversial" and those other buzzwords that "artists" like to use to describe themselves when they're not, then she should have gone against the grain done it without coerced money.

As an aside, it's funny how the left aligned itself with the labour movement to get workers better pay(among other things), only to turn around and forcibly take more and more of it away.

MikeG81

*Edit*

As an aside, it's funny how the left aligned itself with the labour movement to get workers better pay(among other things), only to turn around and forcibly take more and more of it away, and spend on garbage like this "art", while abdicating their responsibility in other areas. To their discredit, this mentality has infected "conservatives" also. Then they have the gall to tell you how "silly" you are when you take issue with this state of affairs.

I suppose when it's not your money, who gives a crap, eh?

ac1

MikeG81 also their labour "theory" of value she's done a huge markup on the raw products used in her work. What a capitalist exploiter of the masses she is.

Franklin

It's typical for the top echelons of collectors to be active on museum boards of directors and acquisition committees. Even apart from this they donate money and art. I never heard how it was resolved but a couple of years ago Saatchi tried to bequeath his collection to the state, but took his dollies and marched home when the state told him that it didn't want every last bit of it. Saatchi got it in his head that the whole collection was golden and the nation would take it wholesale or not at all.

The relationship is symbiotic. Collectors rely on museums to validate their collections as museum-worthy, and the museums rely on the collectors for largesse. This ends up causing market distortions all over the system just as any crony-capitalist arrangement would, but what makes the art world unique is that it also causes distortions in the marketplace of ideas, which is why contemporary art is a political and philosophical monoculture, or nearly so. No one is ever going to make art that seems to be against recycling.

Market forces cannot determine the value of something as subjective as a painting in the same way they can a product like an iPhone.

Value isn't price. The value of a painting is the pleasure of looking at it; the value of the phone is the sleekness of its design and its utility. The price of these things reflect their value imperfectly - always imperfectly - and the market is an attempt to come to an agreement about price. However imperfect the relation, there is one, and thus price distortions can be connected to value distortions and vice-versa.

Franklin

Also, it's not uncommon for painters with decent chops to get into another line of art-making because trying to distinguish yourself on chops alone is horrifyingly difficult. I've seen good artists get badly derailed by this - they have skill but don't have a lot to say with it, or they try to bolt contemporaneity onto the work like that repeatedly overpainted self-portrait by Haftner linked by OJ. There are a lot of ways for art to fail.

Rich Rostrom

This reminded me of something our host linked to two years ago: genuine art made from garbage. Which required actual skill and craft, and needed no explanations.

Cole

I suppose the question is whether you’re happy with a publicly funded taste-correcting caste steering us to the light. As you can imagine, I’m a tad sceptical.

No one will ever 'fix' the Arts Council. You can only stop funding it with public money.

David

No one will ever ‘fix’ the Arts Council.

In the Cargo Culture thread over at Franklin’s, an artist named John bemoaned democratic governments losing the ability to “influence the course of art.” Influence he regarded as now being monopolised by very wealthy collectors. Or “robber barons,” as he put it. As I said there, I’m not at all convinced that it’s the job of the state to do anything of the kind. It sounds more than a little presumptuous.

The Arts Council is the British state’s attempt to “influence the course of art,” to pick and choose for us, to distort the market, and to blow our tiny minds with “challenging” work, etc. Even on its own dubious terms it hasn’t exactly been successful and it’s hardly democratic. We, the taxpayers, have no say at all in how our earnings are spent. Spent by a very narrow and politically homogenous social group. Hence the colossal self-indulgence and parasitic sense of entitlement.

And yes, it’s hard to see how any rearrangement of its parts might rescue the Arts Council from what it has become. Bloat, dysfunction and cronyism seem pretty much inevitable given its premise, its political incline, and the people it attracts. It’s what any vast, socialised art bureaucracy will in time become. The question, then, is: Is such a thing worth having? Does the state have any business in choosing and filtering artistic production, picking winners, supposedly on “our” behalf?

Franklin

To be fair to John, he wasn't bemoaning it, just noting that it had happened. He actually agrees with you that influencing the course of art is not the job of the state. For you it's a matter of principle, and for him it's an observation that democracy has done a lousy job of it, but you arrive at the same conclusion.

I would not only take out the Arts Councils of the world, I would cause any museum showing work by a living artist to lose its nonprofit status. Still better would be to tax no one, but the exemptions serve a dual purpose to relieve the institution of financial liabilities and confer upon them a status as a producer of public good. Deprived of that status, much contemporary dreck could be handily rejected as a game of the rich and not taken as cultural patrimony.

theophrastus

Judging from her written work, I doubt Ms Haftner could understand a "complex conversation". "Words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools."(Hobbes).

We have 'educated' (though, more accurately, 'instructed') vast numbers of people beyond the level of their innate intelligence. Ms Haftner is a good example. And Charles Saatchi is another, I'm afraid. Charles Saatchi is free to spend his wealth exactly how he wishes; but the likes of Ms Haftner are sucking on the public teat.

rabbit

Many in Saskatoon come from a farming background, and farmers have a habit of calling a turd a turd.

I'm sure in Toronto it would be a big hit.

K

Let's just cut to the chase, okay? It's not about art, it's about the left funding artists of varying ability with other people's money to make sure the left's cultural message gets as many outlets as possible - IOWs laundering taxpayer money they lied to get into instant campaign cash. Why do you think so many great artists went with Hitler and Stalin?

Patrick Brown

Rich Rostrom: "...Which required actual skill and craft, and needed no explanations."

Reminds me of this piece from our favourite paper claiming that Britpop was "a cultural abomination that set music back".

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/apr/24/britpop-cultural-abomination-music-blur-oasis

As I read it I couldn't help noticing that it only discussed acts' image and attitude, and a wee bit of their lyrics, but made no mention of what they sounded like. Which to my mind is the main point of music. Compare that to conceptual art, and it seems to me our critical culture doesn't have a clue what to make of anything aesthetic. Words and personalities, that's all they know how to cope with.

Devo

I am born and raised in Saskatoon and come from farming families on both sides, to preface. It saddens all that I believe is truly good so deeply to see such ignorant and violently senseless comments made out of selfishness and an inability to think beyond an immediate and primitive reaction. So many times I wish I could respond to individual comments made, because there is so much understanding and thought that is completely ignored in this ludicrously one-sided back-patting. But how do you address a flood of ignorance, a torrent of hatred and insecurity? How do you speak to the angry voices with pitchforks and torches? You are the witch hunters and you project your own inadequacies onto others without any self-critical thought or capacity for ideas outside of your own selfishness. Good art causes us to ask questions of ourselves and the reason you hate this art is because you refuse to ask yourself any meaningful questions. Art is life and not everything in life is shallowly "beautiful" like a flower, the most beautiful things in life have meaning and are complex and challenge us sometimes with unpleasant experiences. Your soul will remain undeveloped and your life without meaning if you allow your ignorance to control you. In art, as in life, you must ask yourself the most important question: why? And ask it honestly. Give yourself some time. And for most of you, a lot of time.

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