Spotted by Chester in the comments - Fintan O’Toole, literary editor of the Irish Times, calls for a “national arts strike” to extort further cash from the taxpayer. “The public has to be reminded that it really does care,” says he. And until more wallets land on the bonfire of publicly funded art, the nation’s creative titans should “close the arts centres” and “hold no poetry readings.”
As it’s Monday, I thought I’d cheer you with another chance to marvel at the mind-shattering talents of Ms Sandrine Schaefer, a performance artist whose adventures with lettuce and underwear have previously entertained us. Being as she is so fearless and uncompromising, her latest work entails,
A series of research based actions in public spaces that explore automated systems that are triggered by human movement.
Specifically, Ms Schaefer is filmed walking past automatic doors, repeatedly and radically, and much to the indifference of passers-by:
Through this enquiry, I hope to discover new possibilities for collaborations with these everyday machines.
An artist has been given thousands of pounds of public money to simply live in Glasgow for a year.
Oh come on. There’s at least one joke in there.
Scottish Government quango Creative Scotland is giving £15,000 to Ellie Harrison after she vowed not to leave the city limits for all of 2016. The 36-year-old believes this will allow her to “increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ - testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”
All her ideas.
It is understood that the project will see her maintain an internet blog and that her whole life here will be a “work of art.”
How staggeringly convenient.
Harrison was born in London but has already lived in Glasgow for a number of years.
In which we marvel at the mental entanglements of our self-imagined betters.
Our year began in academia with a discussion panel of stern and pious ladies. Among them, Professor Judy Haiven, who believes that male students mustn’t speak first and must always defer to women, until the menfolk learn their place in the ‘progressive’ pecking order. Professor Haiven denounced the evils of an alleged male “monopoly” in a campus environment where women outnumber men, and while sitting on a panel with no male participants, and with no-one present to argue a substantively different view. Days later, and while reminding the world that she’s “a Journalism Fellow at Harvard,” our dear friend Laurie Penny struggled with the thought that printed newspapers tend to have an even number of pages. And artists Eames Armstrong and Matthew Ryan Rossetti showed us how to improve Shakespeare by “transgressing conventions,” “destabilising visibility,” and shrieking incoherently in various states of undress.
The rise of the hipster breakfast alarmed us in March, as did the more disastrous pretensions of ‘progressive’ education policy, in which classroom aggression was excused on grounds of race and imagined group victimhood, resulting in a widespread surge in violent assaults against staff and other students. As students’ hair was set on fire and female teachers were repeatedly punched in the face and hospitalised, “restorative justice co-ordinator” Eric Butler boasted, “I don’t blame, I don’t punish.” Adding insult to very real injury, white teachers who found themselves being beaten in class were subsequently asked not to press charges, because of the difficulties facing young black thugs burdened with criminal records.
April brought us the exquisitely tiny dramas of students at Harvard, where the emotional perils of a radical poetry slam became all too apparent, resulting in one student’s claim of fearing imminent death. Meanwhile, students at Stevenson College were left “harmed” and traumatised by an insufficiently sensitive buffet. Thankfully, saner voices prevailed in the pages of the Guardian, where Deborah Orr explained, or rather asserted, that the only vital qualification for presidential office is the possession of a vagina, the “symbolic power” of which “transcends all else.”
In May, we witnessed the intellectual heft of the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, including her belief that obesity isn’t chiefly a matter of inactivity and overeating but instead has a more pernicious cause, i.e., a lack of socialism: “It is inequality and disrespect,” we learned, “that makes people fat.” Though chunkier readers should note that waiting for a socialist revolution probably isn’t the best way to lose those extra pounds. We also pondered the deep ruminations of Marxist philosopher Adam Swift, who insists that reading to your children causes “unfair disadvantage” to the children of parents who are negligent and stupid, and should therefore induce feelings of guilt and discomfort. To our Marxist intellectual, being a competent, caring parent is something to atone for, being as it is an act of class oppression.
Yes, dear readers. It’s time to revisit the mental dumpster fire that is performance art. Specifically, the unliftable talents of Ms Sandrine Schaefer, whose piece Wandering with the Horizon – No. 1, Acclimating to Horizontal Movement was created for the 2015 Foster Prize Exhibition at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art and performed in April of this year. During this six-hour performance, Ms Schaefer “investigates notions of liminality, human scale, and the impact that the external environment has on the body.” As I’m sure will become clear in this, sadly brief, video of edited highlights.
Readers left craving more of Ms Schaefer’s insights can here behold the artist standing inside some tyres, thereby inspiring deep thought on many, many levels. And here we see Ms Schaefer celebrating her weight loss (and her artistic immensity) by attempting to squeeze through a cat flap. Those with a yearning for art of an even higher intellectual gear can marvel at a piece from 2014, in which our fearless transgressor of norms “questions the role memory plays within experiential art mediums, how actions are read on different bodies, and current discource [sic] around documentation, re-performance, and authorship.” By gnawing at a lettuce while sprawling in her underpants.
A woman has been charged with attempted murder after stabbing another woman at the biggest art fair in the US, in an attack that was wrongly interpreted by onlookers as performance art.
No. Don’t. Bad dog.
Siyuan Zhao, from New York, was arrested after stabbing the victim’s arms and neck with an X-Acto craft knife during a fight at the Art Basel event in Miami Beach on Friday. The victim, who has not been identified, was taken to Jackson Memorial hospital with non-life-threatening injuries… While she was being patted down, Zhao spontaneously stated: “I had to kill her and two more.” She is also alleged to have said: “I had to watch her bleed!”
Both ladies are believed to have been patrons of the art fair, not rival exhibitors.
Other witnesses later thought the police tape cordoning the area was an art installation.
The Guardian’s Aisha Mirza bemoans the “psychic burden” of living among white people, which is worse than being mugged.
The more I think about it, the more this may exemplify a near-perfect Guardian article, the ideal to which all other Guardian columnists should aspire. It’s haughty and obnoxious, is ignorant of relevant subject matter, is frequently question-begging, and its imagined piety is premised on a rather obvious double standard. Specifically, Ms Mirza’s belief that people who leave London do so, secretly, because they don’t feel comfortable living among people with skin of a darker hue, which is racist and therefore bad, and her own simultaneous preference not to live among people whose skin is paler than hers, which is somehow not racist at all, and is in fact aired as the last word in righteousness.
Brace yourselves for some taxpayer-funded cultural improvement.
Those with a taste for even more daring and challenging work may prefer the theatrical stylings of Mr Ivo Dimchev, a “radical performer” acclaimed for his “gripping sensitivity” and whose performance piece I-ON “explores” the “provoking functionlessness” of various objects, before showing us “how to make contact with something that has no function.” Readers are advised that the aforementioned contact-making, which was performed as part of the 2011 Vienna International Dance Festival and is shown below, inevitably includes vigorous self-pleasure with what appears to be a wig.
To seize on The Good Life as an affirmation of eco-noodling and a “non-greedy alternative” to modern life is unconvincing to say the least. The Goods only survive, and then just barely, because of their genuinelyself-supporting neighbours – the use of Jerry’s car and chequebook being a running gag, along with convenient access to Margo’s social contacts and expensive possessions. And insofar as the series has a feel-good tone, it has little to do with championing ‘green’ lifestyles or “self-sufficiency.” It’s much more about the fact that, despite Tom and Barbara’s dramas and continual mooching, and despite Margo’s imperious snobbery, on which so much of the comedy hinges, the neighbours remain friends. If anything, the terribly bourgeois Margo and Jerry are the more plausible moral heroes, given all that they have to put up with and how often they, not Tom’s principles, save the day.
Sometimes the employment of a single word in common use gives away an entire worldview. There was just such a usage in the headline of a story in the Guardian late last month: “How the ‘Pompey Lads’ fell into the hands of Isis.” […] The word that implied a whole worldview was “fell.” According to the headline, the young men “fell” into the hands of Isis as an apple falls passively to the ground by gravitational force. The word suggests that it could have happened to anybody, this going to Syria via Turkey to join a movement that delights in decapitation and other such activities in the name of a religion — their religion. Joining Isis is like multiple sclerosis; it’s something that just happens to people. The word “fell” denies agency to the young men, as if they had no choice in the matter. They were victims of circumstance by virtue of their membership of a minority, for minorities are by definition victims without agency.
Mick Hartley quotes Anne Applebaum on the new titan of the British left:
Jeremy Corbyn, would-be leader of the Labour party, is the latest in a long line of useful idiots. Corbyn has recommended that his Twitter followers watch the Russian propaganda channel Russia Today, which he has described as “more objective” than other channels. Never mind that Russia Today interviews actors who claim to be “witnesses” and invents stories — for example, that a Russian-speaking child was crucified by a Ukrainian.
When not describing Hamas and Hizballah as “friends” and declaring his “solidarity” with the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela, our Islington radical finds time to be a fearless supporter of taxpayer-funded homeopathy, which apparently “compliments ‘conventional’ medicine” because “they both come from organic matter.”
And Tim Blair ponders the cultural and economic powerhouse that is taxpayer-funded interpretive dance:
As Australia transitions from a mineral export-based economy to a dance-based economy, it is clearly important to make certain that the dance sector is as stable as possible. Choreographer Lucy Guerin told the [senate] hearings [into arts funding] that to do otherwise would risk us “eventually severing the future of artistic development in Australia and setting us back 30 years.” “It’s that serious,” she added, with all the gravity you’d expect from a choreographer addressing a bunch of senators.
On August 21, the world’s first official, naked public performance art festival will occur in the streets of Biel, Switzerland, featuring projects from 18 international artists.
Local artist Thomas Zollinger has organised a two-day display of self-imagined transgression, during which he and his fellow artists will “increase beyond gallery walls the presence of the naked body as an artistic medium,” and will “explore the possibilities of the naked body in the urban space.” But sadly, not in the way that people with particular tastes might actually want to pay for. Instead, “nakedness is employed as a sculptural element in dialogue with the architectural environment, ground structures and pedestrian traffic.”
Be still my girlish heart.
Given the lack of pornographic appeal, and with it a lack of public interest, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some funding issues have arisen:
Although Biel’s culture office and other institutions helped fund over half the festival’s cost, the organisers are seeking donations online to cover artists’ lodgings, security measures, and other expenses. Incentives to contribute include options to participate in a nude performance of one’s choosing: for 111.55 CHF (~$127 USD), one may partake in “Naked Audience,” which involves stripping and sitting on a chair on a sidewalk while watching pedestrians; 280 CHF (~$290 USD) earns one an invitation to a “Naked Lunch” during which a series of “creative activities” will unfold.
Oh don’t pretend you’re not tempted.
Mr Zollinger’s earlier forays into Incredibly Daring Nude Performance Art™ can be beheld at length here. Where, for instance, you’ll find a seven-minute piece titled Naked UFO, also staged in Biel, in which members of the public cope quite well with the Incredibly Daring Nude Performance Art™ - a composure that rather deflates the ostentatious claims of transgression and taboo, and the alleged “challenge and confrontation of the naked body.” A handful of people wait around looking slightly puzzled, possibly hoping that something interesting will happen, eventually. Two children look amused before wandering off to be amused by something else. And for the most part passers-by pass on by, their minds somehow unshattered by the Incredibly Daring Nudeness™ of it all.
Tim Blair brings terrifying news from the world of Australian taxpayer-funded art:
Readers may recall the brutal warning handed down last month by journalist and tax-funded art enthusiast Ben Eltham. “The arts are a powerful latent force in Australia’s political landscape,” Eltham wrote following Arts Minister George Brandis’s rearrangement of arts funding. “George Brandis and his colleagues would be wise to reflect on this, and whether they can win a war of symbols against some of the most creative and energetic people in our society.”
There are, however, signs of low morale among the art world’s would-be storm troopers:
“Maybe the best option really is to get out of the country,” Hobart-based sculptural artist Theia Connell told Vice magazine last week. That’s Connell’s response to news that previous Arts Start grants for emerging artists have been cut. “The likelihood is that I’ll find myself in a day job,” complained Sydney’s Luke Devine.
Just when you think we’ve reached Peak Sensitivity, the scolds of social justice sprinkle more sand into their underpants… This incident — call it Kimonogate — demonstrates just how far the new puritans are willing to reach to impose their version of politics upon all of our pleasures. Watching Chinese and South Asians lump themselves into an aggregate for the sake of claiming offence on behalf of the Japanese, when that conflation of Asian identities is an established microaggression, is weird enough. Worrying that someone might touch a robe Orientalistically is out there in tinfoil-hat territory. Is that the kind of person you want deciding which activities you’re allowed to enjoy at the art museum?
Thomas Sowell on favoured narratives and unintended consequences:
To many on the left, the 1960s were the glory days of their movements, and for some the days of their youth as well. They have a heavy emotional investment and ego investment in the ideas, aspirations and policies of the 1960s. It might never occur to many of them to check their beliefs against some hard facts about what actually happened after their ideas and policies were put into effect. It certainly would not be pleasant to admit, even to yourself, that after promising progress toward “social justice,” what you actually delivered was a retrogression toward barbarism.
Sociology researchers are now insisting that we as a society start accepting people who choose to “identify as real vampires” - so that they can be open about the fact that they’re vampires without having to worry about facing discrimination from people who might think that that’s weird… Dr Williams [director of social work at Idaho State University] explained that no one should be bothered by a person wanting to drink another person’s blood because “it is generally expected within the community that vampires should act ethically and responsibly in feeding practices,” and it’s not their blood-drinking that’s the real problem here — it’s the fact that they have to worry that other people will judge them for their blood-drinking.
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