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Sunday 19 September 2004

Ars Gratia Artis [Brit]

Nearly a year ago I visited the Tate Modern and saw the fantastic installation by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, entitled "The Weather Project".
For the first time in a long time, I realised that contemporary art wasn't the sole domain of boorish scag queens like Tracy Emin but perhaps an immature branch of art which was still struggling to find it's feet.
Eliasson's work, was both technically impressive and at the same time an intrinsically interesting piece, I won't pretend to have felt any deep and meaningful connection with either the work, or any message that was being conveyed, but it was genuinely a fascinating thing to see.
A little while after my visit, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art opened in Gateshead to much fanfare - an amazing new building, with the express remit to offer another venue for this burgeoning creative scene.
However it appears that Eliasson is something of a one off - it appears to me at least that truly talented contemporary artists are something of a rarity; treading water in a sea of crap that masquerades as "art".
Take for example the Uruguyan "artist" Carlos Capelan. His effort, now on display at the Baltic Centre is entitled "Only You" and can be summed up thus:
An attempt to recreate basic fractal patterns with toenail clippings.
Of course, this isn't actually what it's described as. Indeed, as with most grant-aided bullshit that gets marketed as "contemporary art", it's media pack takes the reader on a flowery journey of nonsense and downright descriptive shite:
"playfully explores issues of self, ego and identity"
No Carlos, it doesn't. In fact, it doesn't come close to doing any of those things - its rubbish. Millions of people clip their toenails every day, and put the resulting detritus into the nearest trash recepticle. This is what you do with toenail clippings. You don't attempt to pass them off as art, no matter how you've arranged them.
For every Eliasson, there appears to be a hundred Capelans, and as such actually getting to see something that looks like it took talent, and wasn't thrown together in 5 minutes by a room full of pre-schoolers is becoming nigh on impossible.
It is no wonder that Contemporary Art is sneered at and rebuked by so many; after all, we've had everything from unmade beds (wow!) through to James Hutchinson's simply awesome piece of crap that must have taken literally seconds to complete.
In the art world proper, you'd never see such utter tripe, because the artists concerned know their work would never see the light of day in any form other than hanging on the wall at Pizza Express.
Perhaps it's time Contemporary Art, and those that call themselves artists within that arena, grew up and actually started doing something worth visiting.
Or failing that, get a proper job. London Underground is hiring...


  1. i have to say i really enjoyed, James Hutchinson Drawn exhibition.Sadly some people fail to acknowledge the amount of development work that goes into work like that.And some people are uneducated enough to discribe work as "piece of crap'
    oh well, you obviously don't have the brain compacity to deal with work like that.

  2. Ah I see!
    Oh, no I don't, you're right Brit. Crap.

  3. That's a fairly typical art-snob statement. Oh well of course you don't get it dahling, you don't have the intelligence or the breeding. Actually I think he gets it fine. I've seen more 'development work' on a set of child's crayon drawings and at least while viewing them I wouldn't have to stand in a room full of 'art lovers' all desperately trying to outdo eachother in fawning over the latest random collection of body-excrements-smeared-on-a-canvas in a desperate attempt to feel some comonality with their fellow 'cultural elite'.

    Christ, I'm pretty sure the author of this blog could even spell capacity at least. Do us a favor and fuck off you scrote-munching cocktard!

  4. I have to say, you really have a way with words.Please grow up.
    I've said my piece.Goodbye

  5. Well lookee here Ma! Dat there city boy reckonses ah don't got da mental com-pacity to 'preciate dem there drawrins. Well ah reckons he just better drop dem pants an' squeal like a pig. SQUEEEEEAL! He got a mighty purdy mouth...

  6. Sorry Dave, I don't think he's got the brain compacity to deal with that.

  7. Contemp. Art reaction no.6 "you're too uneducated (sic) to appreciate it" is one of the ones that really makes me chortle.
    Number one - you cannot be "too" anything which is an absolute negation of its subject. I'll deal with this one slowly because you're a bit thick despite being desparately cool for appreciating modern art. Uneducated means without education at all - zero education. You cannot be less than "totally without" and therefore being "too uneducated" is a nonsensical proposition. The phrase you're actually looking for is "insufficiently educated".....
    ....which would be absolute comedy as a proposition in relation to an art exhibition. The appreciation of all forms of art is utterly subjective. As the emotivists over-simplified but essentially got right, if the function of listening to music, viewing theatre or art is personal consumption of an experience (which it plainly fucking is) then its value is only as a subjective experience. Like eating a meal ("I like this food" / "I do not like this food"), the consumer's experience is inviolate and completely beyond reproach. If you say "this is the most impressive piece of art ever" and I say "it's a piece of shit" then we are both equally right.
    Now if you are technically able in say perspective and say "this painting is wonderfully proportioned and gives a true sense of distance and movement" then you may be more able than me to pronounce on it to be so and for that to be capable of being more correct than my view. But that's function and definition not artistic merit or worth. It's not what you meant by "too uneducated" - you were on an overall value statement associated to some belief that education and the appreciation of artistic merit are related in the overall value judgement to the work. A Nazi-art argument in fact - only those of pure education can understand and should value this thing. Its fucking arse - the appreciation of art, music, food and in fact any personal experience is subjective. Your view is equally as valid as mine. Trying to criticise a person's education in relation to it really shows you up as being a bit thick yourself. Ironic. Innit.
    The above isn't a terribly new concept in the debate of artistic appreciation. If you're such an advocate of the arts, you could get a little perspective on artistic criticism - it's valid from you about works of art but it's self-referential comedy if you apply it to the views of others.
    Consider yourself edumacated.

  8. Heh, i go with the old version of art, as in it has to fucking look good. If i want to get provoced i turn on the news, atleast they got decent production.
    That said, i do enjoy artists like J.H. Pijuan who make very simplistic and "easy" pieces.

  9. I'm really very suspicious about that post Lotta. I'm sure there's a pussy joke in there somewhere....