Reheated (27)
Friday Ephemera

They Exist on a Higher Plane, You See

Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, explains visual art

Art is really about ideas. It’s not about looking at things.

According to the Guardian, Mr Rugoff is “one of the most highly respected curators on the global contemporary art scene” and has “shaken up art audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, inspiring them to engage with the kind of puzzling, cerebral work that tends to put off all but the most dedicated of contemporary art aficionados.” Prior to his moving to the Hayward, we learn that Mr Rugoff “curated a survey of invisible art that included paintings rendered in evaporated water, a movie shot with a film-less camera, and a pedestal once occupied by Andy Warhol.” Such was the unspeakable daring of this invisible art venture, Mr Rugoff has seen fit to repeat it, daringly, at the Hayward. Now Londoners can gasp in wonder at Gianni Motti’s empty frames and Tom Friedman’s blank piece of paper, at which the artist supposedly stared for a very long time. If the colossal cleverness of it all is too much to endure, art lovers may wish to extend the premise by not being visible either.

Setting aside the gallery’s standard blather about “diverse aesthetic practices and concerns” and “using invisibility as a metaphor that relates to the… marginalisation of social groups,” one can’t help but feel that conceptual artists are in fact tragic figures, or tragicomic at least. By and large they’re the leftovers, the dregs. They’re the people who weren’t good enough to get a job in advertising. Having abandoned craft, aesthetics and mere looking at things – and with them, any sense of wonderment or joy – what’s left is typically hackneyed, desperate and gratingly self-conscious. And so, for instance, arch conceptualist Stefan Brüggemann - whose work allegedly “re-presents something which is absent” and “comments on the absence of conceptual art, because conceptual art no longer exists” - attempts to explode our brains with this: 


And of course this mighty conundrum: 

Brüggemann 2

At which point, it may be instructive to contrast Mr Brüggemann’s lofty offerings with some products of capitalism.

This, you’ll note, is just an advert for seatbelts.

And here’s an advert for skydiving classes. 

Base commerce, see. It requires one to look at things. And gosh, how embarrassing is that?

Via Mick Hartley