For newcomers, three more items from the archives.
Conceptual artists reach bottom of barrel. Omar Kholeif swoons.
Some readers may recall the ICA’s Publicness exhibition of 2003, which - in ways never quite specified - “interrogated globalisation” and “notions of the public realm.” The exhibition’s four-page press release promised the thrill of “proposals for projects that may never be realised.” In other words, the artists were so heady in their conceptualism they could short-circuit the tiresome business of actually making or finishing anything and could instead be acclaimed, and paid, simply for airing “proposals.” One almost had to admire the efficiency. After all, it saved everyone – especially the artists – a great deal of time and trouble. Though you can’t help wondering how the artists would have felt had the audience adopted a similar approach to visiting the ICA: “Let’s not bother going and just pretend we did…”
Bidisha sees “cultural femicide” everywhere. A “woman-free world” will soon be upon us.
Note the assumption that “gender balance” is the natural default in all spheres of activity and thus any deviation from gender parity is evidence of systemic discrimination or some other injustice to be corrected. One wonders, then, what Mr Lawson and Bidisha make of other areas of endeavour such as elite chess tournaments, where criteria and performance are sharply defined and where men outnumber women by about 100:1. Now it’s possible that unfair discrimination may be a factor among any number of variables but the existence of such can’t be determined just from the ratio of male and female players. Whether or not meritocratic selection has been achieved can’t be deduced from whether gender parity results, since we have no basis, except ideology, on which to say that gender parity should be the meritocratic outcome. The assumption of a ‘natural’ 1:1 gender ratio in all occupations is itself a prejudice, albeit a modish one. On what basis do we determine that there ought to be a particular ratio of male and female philosophers, or mathematicians, or engineers? At what point and on what basis do we determine that a particular gender is sufficiently “represented” in a given vocation?
Ecological insight from the sculptor Antony Gormley.
“Dispense with your socks,” says he. “This is a time of global warming. Through our feet we can begin to feel it.” This is no doubt because “our feet connect with our brains” and “engage with time.” And what’s more, “through our feet we can begin to be one people, standing through gravity on one Earth.” Yes, standing through gravity, united in our socklessness.
Ruminate more fully in the greatest hits.