David Thompson


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March 23, 2010



The other Dalrymple money quote:

"British doctors, for example, are now the second-highest-paid in the world, though not necessarily the happiest. They have accepted the money on condition that they also accept—as quietly as mice—increasing government interference in their work. When you go to a family doctor in Britain, he is more likely to do what the government thinks he ought to do and will pay him a bonus for doing than what he thinks is right. This is sinister, even when what the government thinks is right happens to be right."


The art banana story is hilarious.

"An Argentinian artist name Caesar Saëz who lived in Quebec applied to the Canada Arts Council and to the Quebec counterpart (le Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec) to create a 300-metre long flying banana in order to denounce George Bush. The banana was to fly over the state of Texas. Saëz left the country. And no one knows of the whereabouts of this work of art."

So this guy basically did a runner with $140,000 of taxpayer's money and nobody did anything. Best bit:

"He said that since the artist never promised to create the banana, its existence was never verified. However, the artist fulfilled all the governmental criteria."

Do you think they'd fund a (non existent) Obama banana?


“Do you think they’d fund a (non existent) Obama banana?”

I doubt it somehow. For one thing, it would almost certainly be construed as racist.

What’s interesting about the story is the last-minute conceptualism angle, whereby the loss of $140,000 is waved aside as not really mattering because they still have the *idea* of a giant airborne banana mocking George Bush.

Similar hustles are not unknown over here. In 2003 the ICA hosted an exhibition called “Publicness,” with all the usual guff about globalisation and “interrogating the notion of the public realm.” (Funny how artists are always “interrogating” something, though in ways never quite specified, while presumably arriving at incredibly profound insights that they just don’t bother to share.) The four-page press release announced “a variety of works, ranging from projects either under development or constantly evolving, and proposals for projects that may never be realised.” So because the art was terribly conceptual, the artists could short-circuit the tiresome business of actually making or finishing anything and just get paid for “proposals.”

You almost have to admire the efficiency. It saves everyone – especially the artist – a great deal of time and trouble. Though you can’t help wondering how the artists would feel should the audience adopt a similar approach to visiting the ICA: “Let’s not bother going and just pretend we did…”

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