ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE (SITCOM VERSION)

28 Jun

ArtBTheatreTitle

THERE’S A WHOLE CHANNEL OF THIS STUFF

A 26 minute barrage of bollocks, compiled from series two of Artbollocks Theatre with a new disturbing laugh track and inappropriate library music. I know, just what you always wanted. The writing of many artists, gallerists and curators is a tragedy, so I’m repeating it as comedy.

You can also check out my new Artbollocks Theatre channel on Vimeo. There’s now a facility there for you to leave me a small tip with PayPal or your magic pretend money kurejittokādo if you like Artbollocks Theatre WHICH I KNOW YOU DO BABY. It’s like Kickstarter, but I’ve already done it so that’s better, surely? You could even regard tipping as if you’re in the USA, and you have to leave a tip or your “ass” will be shot by the waitress and you will probably die. Or something like that.

I’ll leave it up to you, though. If you want to die, obviously it’s your decision.

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“I could go on, but I’m probably boring you.”

METASTUPID

1 Sep

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The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam is having an intellectual navel-gazing session and a nice jolly for boring people who work at universities a symposium called Metamodernism at the end of September. Sadly it’s sold out, or was not open to the public in the first place, so we plebs will probably never know what happens when they “draw a cognitive map of our present in order to grasp the changing contours of our everyday lives, towards a paradigmatic shift lived by a generation born in the 1980s’, whatever that means. They’ll be answering a random collection of baffling questions that absolutely nobody ever wanted answered, such as: “What precisely constitutes a historical moment and/or rupture? What defines this generation that was born in the 1980s?” Ooh, I know… is it being in their late twenties to mid thirties, age wise? Do I win something? Oh shit, Francis Fukuyama’s had a rupture! I wondered what that smell was.

For no discernible reason “as the speakers inside the Stedelijk debate these questions and more, actor Shia LaBeouf will embark upon an actual (#meta)marathon around the perimeter of the museum.” There are more questions? I’m gagging with excitement, but the point is I don’t think they’re even joking about Shia LaBeouf. But if they let him indoors at the Stedelijk he might wipe his dirty bum across the floor like an incontinent dog, or something. So stay at the perimeter, you bad boy, dirty boy, sit, stay. Are they hoping he’ll be distracted by the opportunity to buy cheap booze at the Albert Heijn supermarket next door, like the other drunks who roll around in the park? That branch of Albert Heijn is particularly exciting because it’s underground. He might not be able to find his way out again without help.

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BEARS VS ABSTRACT CAPITALISM

29 Aug

No, not that type of bears. Try Tumblr. There’s a smartphone game called Bears vs. Art, in which

“Greedy millionaires have opened abstract art galleries to display and admire their latest work. Now Rory the bear is ready to fight back against the pointless pieces invading his home! … While pompous guests admire perplexing paintings, you get to rip them to shreds.”

Despite the ambiguous syntax, they do mean the paintings and the guests.

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I haven’t been able to play it, not that I particularly want to. It’s free (or rather “freemium” in the manner of Candy Crush Saga and the same developer’s Fruit Ninja, a subject I’ll return to) but even though it was marketed as a multiplatform, international game many months ago, so far it seems only to have emerged for Android in the UK and of course, obviously, Singapore. It doesn’t look like my mock up:

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“Pointless objects hanging mid-air, hidden subtext from just a square?”

Destroying works of art and murdering “people who came to look” is super cute!

I won’t do much more analysis here because Daniel Golding has already done a very good job of it in a lengthy ABC article that I think you should read (link below). He also seems to have played it, unlike me. If any readers have the game, please leave a comment and tell us all what you thought of it.

It’s clear even from the promotional material that the game displays both a very unpleasant anti-intellectual disdain for individuals and things that seem too clever for certain other people’s liking and, as Golding writes, a superficially more liberal disgust for “accruing wealth at the expense of good grace (that is, destroying a forest to build a gallery, or selling apparently meaningless art).” Note the old chestnut of abstract art being particularly odious, for some reason. Greed overriding good sense seems, on the face of it, a position that arguably has some merit. Yet this is a game offered as free while encouraging people to spend considerable amounts of real money for in-game items that– guess what?– have no intrinsic value either and whose cost is also inflated out of all proportion to any real world commodity or the utility gained from it. Just like the art market. If you want to get into contempt then both industries are equally worthy of contempt, in other words. They’re both examples of abstract capitalism, almost entirely divorced from– or at least having unique and nonlinear relationships with– traditional economic factors like supply and demand, scarcity, or input of labour and materials. They’re actually bubble markets, which stay inflated only because of a collective agreement and faith (or delusion) that the commodities have worth, and that the market will continue to expand indefinitely. Which of course, being bubbles, it’s in their nature never to do. The trick is to flip your artist’s work or video game for a profit at the right time, before the bubble pops.

Inside the game industry, people who pay out for premium items or preferential access are known derisively as “whales”: they swallow everything, subsidising all the free games (sic) enjoyed by the more financially prudent majority. “Freemium” games, Candy Crush Saga and Farmville among the most notorious, are explicitly designed to be highly addictive while becoming increasingly untenable to play for free; at a certain point it becomes virtually impossible to progress without paying something, giving them access to your contacts so the company can market to them (AKA “share this with your friends!”), or both. This is now the dominant model for the massive mobile and tablet app market. So game developers are hardly taking the high road or restraining their greed, either. And even the art world isn’t gleefully positioning itself at the top of the slippery slope that ends with you hitting Heinrich Heine at the bottom, ruefully holding a placard that says THOSE WHO BEGIN BY BURNING BOOKS WILL END BY BURNING PEOPLE. I occasionally joke (for example) about the work of certain artists being indistinguishable from fly tipping or the things teenagers doodle on their school folders, but I wouldn’t spend a great many hours of my life programming a game in which they and their art are annihilated by an angry bear, in the hope of making a lot of money by exploiting the very same economic shenanigans I affect to hold in contempt. People Who Work in the Games Industry vs. Cognitive Dissonance.

By the way, Halfbrick also developed the aforementioned Fruit Ninja. It is a matter of public record that the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron is obsessed with this game. He spends “a crazy, scary amount of time playing Fruit Ninja on his iPad” according to a senior government advisor. Scary indeed. Maybe think about being obsessed with the wellbeing, safety and prosperity of the British people, dickhead?

http://www.abc.net.au/arts/blog/Daniel-Golding/Bears-vs-Art-A-battle-for-the-soul-of-Australias-gaming-industry-140319/default.htm

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YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW MUCH ART THESE BASTARDS HAVE

11 Aug

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A listicle of famous art collectors, movers and shakers. See, I’m really getting the hang of this lazy journalism blogging clickbait type thing. Just string a bunch of clichés together, condescendingly pretend that the reader is a pal so we’re just hanging out shooting the shit, and Bob’s your uncle. Oops, there’s another one! I tried really hard, but unfortunately I couldn’t shoehorn anything funny and adorable about cats or pugs into this listicle. Sorry about that.

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IN ASSOCIATION WITH BUCKFAST TONIC WINE

MAO ZEDONG

One of China’s leading commissioners of art, and of disastrously ill-conceived social engineering enterprises that lead to the deaths of millions. Doh. We’ve all done it at least once, right ladies? So embarrassing. Also one of China’s leading destroyers of art, literature, families, teachers, revisionists and running dogs of capitalism, pots and pans, sparrows, etc. Iconoclastic!

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ADOLF HITLER

Having aggressively amassed a huge collection of paintings and annihilated many of his opponents (literally! I mean literally as in for real, not literally meaning actually the opposite of literally but added as a kind of emphasis one stage beyond “you know?” or “right?”), this former artist is credited with creating a number of major booms throughout Europe. LOLocaust!

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THE PRIMAL SCENE OF FINE ART

8 Aug
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Clockwise from top left: “God in a bottle”, chimney sweep trade mannequin, soldier’s pincushion, boody (broken china) mosaic tray with doll, papier maché meat from a butcher shop, carved bone chicken.

Tate Britain’s British Folk Art exhibition (continues in London until 31 August 2014, then moves to Compton Verney in Warwickshire) is one of the most inspiring collections I’ve seen in this country recently. I dislike terms like “folk art” or “outsider art” because to me if they’re art then they’re just art, but I acknowledge that these terms can have their uses. This is a minor quibble anyway, in the context of a show that clearly celebrates and validates the umtrammeled creativity of ordinary people in an intelligent and unpatronising way that few of our large art institutions would even bother to try. Most of the objects come from the often sorely underappreciated museum collections in places like Beamish, Norwich, or Tunbridge Wells, which I hope will encourage more people to visit them. It becomes terrifyingly clear that the collective memory of society is very short and full of holes. For example, who knew that male soldiers dug needlework so much and were so good at it, even as recently as WWI? Where did all our dressed wells, Obby Osses and Gods in bottles go?

On the day I went there were a lot of delighted and interested people of all ages very vocally and visibly enjoying the items on display. How often does that happen in an art exhibition nowadays? Such a contrast to the arid I-don’t-even-know-if-it’s-conceptual-or-what of Phyllida Barlow in the hall right alongside British Folk Art. Barlow’s work always reminds me of my dad’s penchant for keeping old bits of wood, obsolete plumbing and old tarpaulins stacked up against the back of our house, just in case they were ever needed… which they never were. And they weren’t art, either. Criticising Barlow is apparently a no-no because she’s a professor and she probably taught a lot of artists and so nobody ever does. That good old art world omerta. I’ll assume she’s fine as a human being until I hear anything to the contrary, but I get absolutely nothing from her work, or from the work of her numerous imitators and fellow travellers. What is it saying? Is it saying anything? What am I supposed to think or feel here? I think and feel nothing in front of this work. Worse than nothing, actually, because on balance I’m slightly annoyed by it. I’d enjoy throwing it in a skip and seeing it hauled off by a lorry, but I’m into a good tidy up anyway and I wouldn’t credit Barlow for the pleasure.

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CRITICAL MASS: MAKING THE VISUAL VISIBLE

7 Jul

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Thursday 10th July, 1pm-5pm Hestercombe Gallery, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset TA2 8LG

Please join me, Mark Segal (The Artists Agency, formerly director of the mighty ArtSway), Tom Freshwater (Contemporary Arts Programme Manager at The National Trust) and artist Alexa De Ferranti for a seminar about practice and support for artists outside of England’s cities. It takes place at Hestercombe Gallery, the new contemporary venue at Hestercombe House in the splendidly named Cheddon Fitzpaine, just north of Taunton in Somerset. You can thank Google’s “smart” search helper for the picture of “Taunton” above, by the way.

It costs £10 but bursaries and free transport are available to those who might need it, e.g. and most particularly artists. Apply ASAP, using one of the links below. You just need to very briefly explain why you’d like to attend.

More details of tickets, bursaries and transport here, along with info about Hestercombe.

Same ticket and bursary stuff, different link.

Somerset’s really “happening” right now. Hauser and Wirth faaaaaarrrmmmmmmmm. Expect a confused Phyllida Barlow or Mark Wallinger in the area soon, walking around with shopping bags on their feet like Richard E. Grant in Withnail & I. “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake. We’re in this cottage here. Are you the farmer?”

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