24 Nov

(Image via the sadly long-defunct )

Findings have just been published from a national survey about the working lives of cultural and creative workers in the UK. It was carried out by Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Sheffield and LSE as part of their project Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?

The findings provide hard evidence for the common impression that the arts sector is a closed shop where most people are middle class and it also makes revealing discoveries about how gender and ethnicity can affect a career in the arts and how higher wage earners view the sector in comparison to lower wage earners.

They’re not kidding. People who earn over £50,000 PA tend to believe it was their hard work and talent that counted, while those earning under £5,000 (over a quarter of the respondents) believe that it’s not what you know but who you know that counts. 18% of those surveyed earned only £5-15K PA; the Living Wage Foundation’s figure of £8.25 an hour for 38 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, would be £16,302 PA for a bare minimum standard of living.

76% of people working in the arts grew up with at least one parent who worked in a middle class managerial or professional occupation. 88% of arts workers did so for free at some point in their careers. 23% of men and 32% of women took part in unpaid internships. All of these findings strongly emphasise the role of the hotel and bank of mummy and daddy in launching the careers of most “hard working”, “talented” arts professionals, and the later necessity for many cultural workers to be partnered with somebody who earns a reasonable wage, because the cultural workers themselves rarely do.

In other shit news, men still earn on average 32% more than women for doing comparable jobs in the cultural industries.

More detail here, here and here.

PS I assume it’s just really bad writing on behalf of Hannah Ellis-Petersen (eponysterical QED for that typical middle class name) in The Guardian when she says that “44% of those from BAME backgrounds felt ethnicity was either “essential” or “very important” to getting ahead in the arts”. I doubt the survey authors are really suggesting that black and minority ethnic people are only given opportunities because they’re ethnic minorities, i.e. 44% of BAME people think their ethnicity was the most important aspect of their success.


14 Nov

… is one of the possible reasons why all the people appear to have lost control over basic motor skills as well as their damn minds in the aforementioned Anish Kapoor and Friends [sic] video, making the most of the inexplicable craze for Gangnam Style a few years ago. Like your grandad realising several years after the fact what twerking is or what whippits are, so he keeps saying “twerking” or “whippits” all the time and nudging you because he’d like you to admit he’s totally with it and hasn’t lost his touch. Anyway, dance along like a toddler to some horrifying GIFs from Anish Kapoor and his imaginary friends.


Firstly some box-fresh gallerinas, straight from the Gallery Maid factory’s affordable basic range. Jackie O bug shades? Yes. Short dress over black tights? Yes. Straight, shoulder length hair? Yes. Moves like granny? No, granny’s actually a better dancer. I never heard of Gladstone Gallery before. Understand? I NEVER HEARD OF YOU. And I’ve only heard of about six of the artists they represent. Well done, ladies. Keep up the little-to-no work.


“Grandad? When I grow up, I want to put my glasses on top of my head and glower at gallery visitors over a very high white counter.”


Does anybody know who this little herbert is, with his pompadour, his air tie and his Matalan suit? Looks like a mini-me of noted feminist Charles Saatchi.


Here’s a contribution from that well-known art world luminary, Tumblr. One beer (seen here, bottom left) and Mr Tumblr is straight onto the dance floor, delivering black eyes, an elbow in the breasts, or knocked out teeth to anyone within striking distance. One beer and he’s even straight onto the dance floor when there’s no dance floor or music. Thanks to your bedroom dance sessions, young master Tumblr, Ai Wei Wei is free! But you’d better scrub the wall before mum comes up to tell you to turn the music off, or she’ll be furious.

To be fair, this clip does sum up Tumblr pretty well.


Stripper dance moves for free speech, because nothing says “important campaign to raise awareness of state oppression and censorship” better than dry humping a pensioner.


I warn you now, henceforth I’m going to use this GIF every time I mention Anish Kapoor. Go home, sunshine. You’re drunk.


13 Nov

Ehhhhhh… nasty landlord.

(* Link for those too young and/or too not from London to get this reference.)

South Korean pop star PSY, of Gangnam Style infamy, is not only trying to force an artist-led organisation out of a building he owns in the gentrifying Hannamdong neighbourhood of Seoul (so he can renovate it, presumably for higher rents) but has also launched defamation lawsuits against four of the artists for publicising his actions and criticising him. Don’t like going viral quite so much when it doesn’t flatter you, Mr Park?

Of course this is just one of many instances of the same crap that is happening in London and in other major cities in the developed world; as the rich get richer and the poor get punished, artists, the low paid and even reasonably well-salaried key workers like nurses and teachers are being exiled from the cities where they’re particularly needed and supposedly wanted while urban cores become little more than desolate stacks of steel and glass investment boxes for the Haves.

All this came to my attention via a story at Hyperallergic about an unspeakably ghastly KRW 418 million (£236,800 or $361,000) Gangnam Style sculpture planned for the eponymous district of Seoul. Somebody should tell these property developers that viral YouTube hits are often really hard to explain even at the time, let alone in a few years when everyone will be saying “Si who? Horse riding hands? What?”

Talking of WTF-ness, it is perhaps telling that Amnesty International appear to have deleted the page on their site that formerly pertained to the Gangnam for Freedom video made in 2012 by Anish Kapoor and Friends [sic… obviously he doesn’t have any friends]. You can watch it if you like. I can’t watch it again. I just can’t. It’s so embarrassing it makes my whole face invert and my testicles retract all the way up into my lungs. The Chinese government was obviously rocked by Kapoor and overpaid staff members from irrelevant 1% bauble galleries like the Serpentine and MoMA dancing like toddlers to a novelty record about chatting up an attractive woman* and that’s why they immediately let Ai Wei Wei and other people who are actually serious dissidents out of… oh, wait. No they didn’t. THEY DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT AND JUST KEPT ON OPPRESSING ARTISTS, JOURNALISTS, ACTIVISTS AND AUTHORS WITH COMPLETE IMPUNITY.

And now the video is overlaid with the irony that PSY accuses artists who criticise him of libel and takes them to court.

(I know, by the way, that Kapoor and Friends were responding to a video by Ai Wei Wei which also (mis)used Gangnam Style… his video was also lame, embarrassing and demonstrated a high schooler’s level of political and artistic sophistication.)

(* English translation of the Gangnam Style lyrics. Why bother using an instrumental version– which exists, because I checked– to avoid conflicting messages, when lyrics like these go so perfectly with a protest about freedom of speech? The answer is that Anish Kapoor and Friends are intellectual pygmies and hacks, probably.

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now lets go until the end

Uncle is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Uncle is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Uncle is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Uncle is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who puts her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensible girl like that

I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy.)


10 Nov

BONUS fun fact: Marina’s head is actually very loosely balanced on her neck and it could fall off at any time!

Here are nine more facts about Madge Ab that will surprise you and fun you, inspired by this listicle of great importance which is definitely not filler hackwork at Artnet News, in which we learn that the “grandmother of performance art”* did performance art at a museum, her mother didn’t like seeing pictures of her daughter’s breasts, and she affects not to like being famous despite gleefully hanging out with the Beyoncé family and Lady Gaga. None of these are particularly surprising or fun facts and nor are the other six “fun”, “surprising” facts surprising or fun, but what can you do? Clickbait headlines gonna bait clicks.

* Not the nice grandmother, the other grandmother that the mother and grandchildren of performance art would really like to get put away in a care home for her own good because she’s always been a bit unhinged with a nasty streak but now she insists on getting her tits out, telling everyone how when she was a girl she used to eat sawdust soup every day and it never did her any harm, making sexual advances to furniture, and ranting that everyone should stop staring at her even though she does everything possible to seek attention.

1. Her body is made of Play Doh and cannot be destroyed!

Repairing herself is a simple matter of squashing the bits back together. Abramović occasionally stains upholstery or sticks to carpets, and may become dry and brittle if left out too long. She should never be consumed even though she smells like cake. Her face, however, is made of papier-mache and needs to be replaced every few days. It has become less realistic over the past few decades, and the artist herself has said “I don’t want realistic face because this word realistic I hate, it spell out ‘real I stick’ and I get the lifelong dislike of real stick from my mother who I think never love me. Ha ha.”

2 If all her ideas were laid out end to end, they would reach almost halfway from the doors of New York’s MoMA on West 53rd Street to the kerb!

3 She is a huge fan of Magic Roundabout, Jamie and the Magic Torch, Chorlton and the Wheelies, and other British children’s television shows from the 1970s!

Abramović says, “I don’t know why nobody has noticed that they are so trippy, it seem people who make shows are on drug. Perhaps because I am artist I notice this thing.”

4 In another unexpected connection to children’s television, Abramović was due to guest star in the third series of Fraggle Rock, but all her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor!

When asked why, the late Jim Henson would always just shake his head sadly but not answer.


5 When you point at something, Abramović always looks at the end of your finger instead of the item you are indicating!

6 Abramović has all her emails typed out on paper by an assistant, photographed and developed as daguerreotypes by another assistant, transcribed by a third assistant and then finally sent via Hotmail by Abramović clicking with her finger over the assistant’s finger on the mouse!

She says, “I have sacrificed the direct communication by force of my art, some people cannot cope with this I know but is like essential act for serenity of my finger.”

7 Sometimes, when a person complains about Abramović talking with her mouth full, she shows them the semi-masticated, unswallowed food in it and laughs!

8 There is a time travelling cyborg version of Marina Abramović but she and Abramović Prime have been forbidden to ever meet each other by officials from NASA and the CIA!

Abramović’s only public comment on the subject came during her recent Q&A with Justin Bieber at Harvard: “This to me is like fascism. I am serious artist or something and so I think I can decide if spacetime continuum totally collapse or not because of my action! Ha ha.”


9 She says “newkiller” instead of “nuclear” and “expresso” instead of “espresso”, and she doesn’t even understand why people keep correcting her!


10 Nov

My poor babies, I know– as I’m sure you know too, in your anguish and despair– that I have been away for a while. Work and life and travelling and acquiring a number of disturbing masks and wigs. The normal things a normal person does when they are not blogging. But hush your howls of loss and dry your mucous membranes, for I have returned and will shortly recommence gnawing the art world’s unattractive cankles.



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