David Thompson
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June 09, 2016

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rjmadden

I don't think there's an answer to that question that will make them look good.

Atempdog

Hey, they worked really hard on this. You're just mean.

frank black

If she's trying to knit a beanie, that's certainly not the way I'd go about it. But then, you know, art.

David

Hey, they worked really hard on this. You’re just mean.

Heh. But that’s the thing. I can think of several artists whose work I don’t like and which I don’t think should be funded by the taxpayer, but I can still see that there’s effort involved, some craft and criteria. It’s just not to my taste. And then there’s another swathe of the supposedly artistic population, much of it centred around performance art, that doesn’t seem to have any discernible aesthetic criteria, or any external measure of artistic accomplishment, or any interest in registering just how short of excellence, or competence, they fall.

jabrwok

they worked really hard

Yeah, about that: "All the work one cares to add will not turn a mud pie into an apple tart; it remains a mud pie, value zero. By corollary, unskillful work can easily subtract value; an untalented cook can turn wholesome dough and fresh green apples, valuable already, into an inedible mess, value zero. Conversely, a great chef can fashion of those same materials a confection of greater value than a commonplace apple tart, with no more effort than an ordinary cook uses to prepare an ordinary sweet." - Robert Anson Heinlein

David

It’s possibly worth noting that on the rare occasions when artists I’ve written about have responded here directly, their replies have been rather twitchy and comically indignant, and determined to assert some imagined higher status. We, the doubting heathens, had made “violently senseless comments,” we were unable “to think beyond a primitive reaction,” and were “frightened of losing [our] co-ordinates.”

Burnsie

The dirty little secret is that they're all grubby exhibitionists who just want to take off their trousers in front of people, without getting arrested.

The biggest creative question they struggle with seems to be, "At what point should I take off my pants? Should I start pants-free? Should they come off in the middle, or should I save that for the conclusion?"

This could actually be entertaining if they weren't such a soft, flabby bunch in general. Alas, they won't even lift a finger to get that right.

Tim Newman

This could actually be entertaining if they weren't such a soft, flabby bunch in general. Alas, they won't even lift a finger to get that right.

I have noticed that "artists" of this ilk are rarely out of the lower 25% in terms of physical appearance. The women tend to be fat and/or shapeless with tattoos, hair dye, and piercings they probably should have grown out of in their early 20s; and the men are noodle-armed while somehow managing to be slightly flabby around the middle at the same time. Few seem to value personal hygiene very highly.

WTP

Actually...when you put it that way, this work is quite percipient. If you have ever done software development on a government contract there often comes a time of realizing what we are doing, looking at each other, at our peers, and thinking, “Hmm. We’re in a bit shit, aren’t we?”. There is some degree of shame and humility. Yet I can't speak for those in management, as I have my doubts there. Regarding the shame and humility, that is. Perhaps they are playing the part of the "artists". How these "artists" stumbled into a means of reproducing such a slice of the human condition is a mystery, however.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

...you have to wonder, was there ever a time when the people involved looked at what they were doing, at each other, at any of their peers, and thought, “Hm. We’re a bit shit at this, aren’t we?”

The answer to that is "No", as manifested by the parade of pretensions they have about their "works", e.g., at the conclusion of that stunning piece you linked by the great Keely Haftner there is listed the "Director of Photography" which in non-art English means the guy who stood there for 6 minutes and 37 seconds with his iPhone pointed in her general direction.

Bill #2

Some art exists only to provide a sharp contrast what truly good art actually is.

I think Theodore Sturgeon put it well, positing that 90% of any artistic work is crap. Gene Spafford added two important corollaries to Sturgeon's Law:
(5) No one can agree on which is the remaining 10%
(6) There is no guarantee that the remaining 10% is not crap too.

Having previously worked for almost a decade at an Arts college as a technical staff member, I could say from experience that Sturgeon's Law is optimistic, and Spaff's corollaries are true as well.

Alice

Was that thread ever pulled at?

I see what you did there.

R. Sherman

The problem with feeling shame for these types is it reinforces and validates their self-perception of oppression and victimhood, thereby making them "transgressive" and "edgy."

Jacob

We, the doubting heathens, had made “violently senseless comments,” we were unable “to think beyond a primitive reaction,” and were “frightened of losing [our] co-ordinates.”

Christ almighty, I'd forgotten about those.

David

Christ almighty, I’d forgotten about those.

Both rambles are worth revisiting. If you think of the word ‘projection’ while you read them, they start to make a kind of sense. The accusation of selfishness is still quite funny.

David

Some further examples may be helpful to newcomers.

Please don’t dump your garbage on the roadside. 90 minutes of pillow flailing as a comment on consumerism and a “strategic refraction.”

You may clap when moved. Saving the world and “subverting oppressive discourses” with radical trouser amplification.

No, don’t thank me.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

......you have to wonder, was there ever a time when the people involved looked at what they were doing, at each other, at any of their peers, and thought, “Hm. We’re a bit shit at this, aren’t we?”

As if on cue:

At the Park Avenue Armory, a retrospective of Turner Award-winning Martin Creed’s work has opened: Expect films of people vomiting and defecating, the ticking of metronomes, and another room filled with white balloons.
TitledThe Back Door, the exhibition opens Wednesday and features films of people vomiting and defecating...

The series begins with a video of a poised, silver-haired woman sitting on a couch, her mouth opening in slow motion to reveal a creamy white substance on her tongue. The irreverence of that image is compounded when we learn that the woman depicted is Creed’s mother...

Some visitors might feel nauseated at the sight of a cute Asian woman hiking up her pale blue dress and squatting down to defecate...

Alas, there is more where that came from.

Deep Thoughts™ from Herr Creed:

The work is a way of confronting his own anxieties, he says in a soft Scottish lilt, the same way that psychoanalysis helps him confront anxieties. He confesses that he’s afraid of cheese, meat, and fish.

“When I was invited to do these shows it coincided with the refugee crisis in Europe, and so I had a strong feeling of guilt about my pissing around art world stuff,” he says. “Growing up you’re taught to love your neighbor and all this shit, but when there’s an actual example of loving your neighbor in the world everyone’s like, Oh we fucking can’t let them in, whatever their stupid reasons are.

Alas, there is more where that came from.

So again, no, these bozos not only do not think they might be shit at that, they think they are the solid gold Cadillac of the art world

R. Sherman

It occurs to me that "The Great Unravelling" would be a great name for some world-wide conflagration which would only be discussed centuries after in hushed tones by intrepid explorers sifting through the ruins of some ancient metropolis constructed by the "Old Ones." Of course, said explores would ponder why they keep finding the skeletal remains of people rolled up in plush, Berber Stainmaster carpet.

Surreptitious Evil

If you have ever done software development on a government contract ...

Denial, then anger, then acceptance. If you don't end up strangling the project manager, you can eventually graduate to Nirvana - just cashing the fucking cheque.

It's easier if you are a contractor :)

dicentra

This game?

You cannot win it: https://twitter.com/LLPOS/status/740266611571974144

David Gillies

I suppose it's a necessary part of these creeps' pretension to be so avant the bleedin' garde that us mere mortals can't dig where they're coming from, maaaaaaan that they claim to be constantly under the threat of mob violence from a perplexed and outraged populace fed up with all the épater-ing. They don't seem to realise that the reaction to their effluvia is much more down the rotten cabbage end than the pitchforks and torches one.

vanderleun

We really, really need an art criticism that comes out of a .45 at 830 FPS directly into their brain stems. That would clear their minds on these issues. Nothing short of that will work.

David

He confesses that he’s afraid of cheese,

If only he were afraid of boring others needlessly and wasting their time.

Pinkeen

I wonder what their friends and family say to them after a performance. I have been to enough exhibitions of art or pieces of theatre by friends and acquaintances to know how excruciating it is to talk to them afterwards and make vaguely positive comments when it hasn't exactly been thrilling. But this! How does it go? Imagine!

Burnsie

Some visitors might feel nauseated at the sight of a cute Asian woman hiking up her pale blue dress and squatting down to defecate…

Ahh, yes. The obsession with bodily functions. Another foundation of performance art. Anyone can produce crap, of course, but theirs are works of art. Remember that, heathens.

Franklin

Ahh, yes. The obsession with bodily functions.

Succès de scandale has taken place around two subjects, almost to exclusion: body taboos and Christianity. Of course, such things scandalize no one in the art world any longer. Videos of pooping may be unpleasant but nobody who would gladly attend a Creed exhibition would question whether they were art or committing an affront to civilization.

What would really scandalize them would be to make art that lampoons their progressive sensibilities. Yes, it has occurred to me to do this.

David

What would really scandalize them would be to make art that lampoons their progressive sensibilities.

It’s telling that so many of these clowns feel obliged to tell us how scandalising they are, in case anyone else forgets to. As if we live in the 1950s. I’m reminded, for instance, of Ms Reshma Chhiba and her claim that few visitors would be left “unfazed” by the mere sight of her somewhat underwhelming giant vagina installation, and her insistence that the experience would be “scary to people raised with patriarchal values.” Because what could be more radical and dangerous to The Patriarchy™ than something geared towards the pretensions of the modern gallery-visiting set and installation art crowd? It’s as if these people have had their self-awareness surgically removed.

dan

Les Miz is probably one of my less favourite musicals with its over-the-top histrionics but they are so bad that the backing track sounds as monumental as Beethoven's Third.

phil

Actually...when you put it that way, this work is quite percipient. If you have ever done software development on a government contract there often comes a time of realizing what we are doing, looking at each other, at our peers, and thinking, “Hmm. We’re in a bit shit, aren’t we?”.

Try doing a locum in the NHS where every other person on the ward is also a locum, and they have also just arrived that morning.

dw

It’s as if these people have had their self-awareness surgically removed.

Every one of them at every link.

David

Every one of them at every link.

Yes, it’s almost eerie. It seems that the field attracts a very high concentration of narcissists, who tend to lack self-awareness in any conventional sense, and who then find their narcissism encouraged and excused by peers and institutions, until their behaviour becomes a credential of sorts, a marker of belonging and in-group status. In their world, where talent is in short supply and seemingly best avoided, being a narcissist is how you signal that you are an artist.

And so we get lots of people who blather about “transgression” and the “empowering” effects of “global vaginas,” and who claim to be “subverting oppressive discourses” by rubbing a microphone across their arse and nipples, and who do all this with a straight face, while being applauded and rewarded, albeit by idiots, for these teetering pretensions. And once that’s your life, your social persona, the footing of your ego and peer approval, then… what use is self-awareness? A flickering of realism and the whole thing might come unravelled.

abacab

It's also, in a corollory to poe's law, impossible to parody.

I keep thinking that maybe one day I'll do a pisstake of this kind of thing, but then I think why would anyone watch the pisstaking when it's indistinguishable from the real thing?

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

I’m reminded, for instance, of Ms Reshma Chhiba and her claim that few visitors would be left “unfazed” by the mere sight of her somewhat underwhelming giant vagina installation, and her insistence that the experience would be “scary to people raised with patriarchal values.”

David, they need to be important, and if that takes pretending the last sixty years haven't happened, they will do it.

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