Tag Archives: idiots


1 Sep


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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25 Jun


Sad news. Notting Hill shopkeepers, “Art as Lifestyle” buccaneers and massive Career Suicide fans Debut Contemporary recently experienced some kind of unfortunate IT glitch, leading to the total loss of all the one star reviews and negative comments on their Facebook page. Luckily, all the uncritical or gushing four and five star reviews were uneffected. Even better, somebody screencapped all the bad reviews before they disappeared. I’m sure Samir will be pleased to know they weren’t lost and are still circulating freely.

Following this tragedy on Facebook, I couldn’t help noticing some of their excellent photography.

MoreenYantobWho’s this? Only bloody “Moreen Lipman” and “Alan Yantob” [both sic and, evidently, sick if they really endorse this place] as proudly namechecked in the DC prospectus. Maybe they’re impersonators who have to style themselves thusly in order to avoid legal action from the real has-been actress and the genuine middlebrow art Hobbit. Samir’s also apparently had a go with other art world titans such as Jason Donovan and Alan Carr. I know, impressive. One time I was on at a Virgin Megastore with Kylie Minogue, though, on the same fucking poster and everything, it was like Alistair Gentry 2pm Kylie Minogue 3pm. Think on that and what it says about my importance to the field of Fine Art.

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6 Jun



An unfortunate side effect of cities like New York and London being internationally important to culture, innovation and the arts is that they also have more world class twats per square mile than anywhere else on Earth. Google Glass users have already become proverbially obnoxious Glassholes (and people are already taking steps to jam their nonsense, albeit only so far in a conceptual, provocative way), but really the specific New York Glasshole in question is just a stepping off point for a splendid and articulate rant by Omer Shapira, titled Nobody Goes to Art School to Make Money, so Fuck Off. Obviously an artist creative technologist person after my own heart.

Although, as it happens, I agree with Shapira on Google Glass and its ilk as well. When you’re interacting with a real human being to their face, your phone or camera or whatever should not be anywhere near your face. Turn that shit off for five minutes. It’s not Luddite or infringing upon your rights when someone finds it objectionable or creepy that you take their picture or record them without permission, especially if they didn’t initially know you’re doing it. Your manners and consideration for the rights of others are deficient, not theirs.

I recommend that you read the whole thing, but here’s a great quote so you have some idea of why you should, especially if you’re one of those people (or worse, one of those artists) who thinks that an artist being able to make a sale should always be the first or only measure of their importance or their right to practice:

“Like with any art school, people spend their NYU tuition, approximately equivalent to a small neighbourhood in Detroit, to be criticised and called out for bullshit for a few years. They spend time researching and prototyping for the sole purpose of presenting good artwork, not products with rounded edges. We put things in a gallery show precisely because those things might never belong in Best Buy. In some utopian (or extremely dystopian) cases, some of that stuff makes it to the wild, but that’s not the point in making design fictions. We try to communicate. We don’t try to idiot-proof, we don’t try to scale.”

(Note: the “fictions” he’s referring to are the projects developed by students on his course, so called because the pragmatic utility of these projects is not necessarily important, and in some cases never likely to be important. They’re expressing an idea, not answering a need.)

Shapira covers what I’m about to say, too, but it bears repeating: contrary to what some people on both sides like to imagine is a gulf between commerce and art, very often the biggest commercial or popular successes are the result of somebody– or a bunch of people– having lots of time, space and/or money to do stuff that everyone else thought was pointless and unpopular at the time. The same can be said for a good proportion of the best scientific research. Creativity can sometimes be monetised, but the best way to kill creativity is to cram it into a commercial workflow pipeline, head first. Creative people could and would carry on without capitalism, but capitalism couldn’t continue without creative people to feed on.

Nobody Goes to Art School to Make Money, so Fuck Off


15 May



My colleague Dany Louise– who will most likely be writing something more nuanced, more diplomatic and less apoplectic about it anon– alerted me to Eleven Statements Around Art Writing, which was published by Frieze a few years ago and perpetrated by the teaching team on the Goldsmiths MFA course in art writing. They should be bloody ashamed of themselves but almost certainly aren’t. I think these people having responsibility for the intellectual and professional development of students is a mild form of institutionalised abuse, since they’re clearly filling their students’ heads with absolute crap, wrongheaded objectives and bad habits in writing. Not to mention the fact that they are patently atrocious writers themselves. Especially where artists or writers are concerned it’s rarely true that those who can do and those who can’t, teach… but this is the exception. These are the ones who really can’t.

The comments are genuinely worth reading, unlike the article. Even Frieze’s co-editor Dan Fox seems increasingly unable to believe the endless rabbit hole of bullshit he’s tumbled into and he vainly makes some attempt to extract sense from these gibberish statements, although the best comment is not by Fox and says simply:


I know exactly how this gentleman feels. For a start, how can a statement be “around” anything? Before anybody gets to the text they’re assailed by a title that’s the worst kind of pretentious bollocks. It’s also inadvertently revealing of the inability of Fusco and co. to actually make assertions that express any courage of conviction. No, they dither “around” statements instead because that’s easier than commiting to the act of saying something and standing by it. I’m sure Nietzsche is not considered cool on the Goldsmiths Art Writing MFA, but as the great syphilitic loon with the soup strainer ‘tache once wrote: “There are terrible people who, instead of solving a problem, bungle it and make it more difficult for all who come after. Whoever can’t hit the nail on the head should, please, not hit it at all.”

‘Eleven Statements Around Art Writing’ is co-authored by the teaching team –Maria Fusco, Michael Newman, Adrian Rifkin and Yve Lomax – of MFA Art Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. It proposes a moment in contemporary production: writing as art practice.

One cannot propose a moment, because a moment is a conceptual, arbitrary, subjective unit of the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future. A moment, by definition, happens and passes outside the influence or choice of any being. Secondly, a large subset of writing has been a form of art (or artistic) practice– or related to or influenced by artistic impulses and imperatives– since the advent of literacy on Earth. To mention only one example, China has a tradition of calligraphic text that goes back thousands of years, in which the act of marking the characters themselves had an ideological or religious dimension, i.e. writing as art practice.

Thirdly, I reject your proposal because you are all twats.

Art Writing emerges as a practice.

This is a great example of the type of artbollocks sentence that is lexically correct English but can’t be parsed into anything that makes any real sense or conveys any useful information. Don’t worry, plenty more of these to come.

Art Writing is a possible form of the liberty of the image.

Art Writing names an approach within contemporary culture that, in wanting new potentials, embraces writing as a problematization of the object of art, its dissemination and forms of exhibition.

I don’t even know what all this could conceivably mean. How do you problematize an object? What for? I also doubt any of the four authors could adequately explain why it’s necessary to problematize objects or what is gained by doing so. Or are they referring to “object” as in purpose? Not that this would make sense either.

Art Writing does not take modalities of writing as given, rather it tends to, and experiments with, non-division between practice and theory, criticism and creativity.

I think this means “art writing does what it wants”, although Art Writing doesn’t actually do anything because it’s a literary genre and not an autonomous entity with desires, volition or an agenda. Writers in every genre and culture have always experimented with the “non-division” (i.e. “putting together” in plain English) of practice, theory, criticism and creativity. Anybody who doesn’t know this– or affects not to know this so as to aggrandise themselves and flatter their own egos– should never be allowed to teach or to hold any kind of academic post.

Art Writing sustains all forms of art criticism, including the experimental and the hybrid. The art work may be intensely engaged with, or it may be the starting point for fictional and poetic developments.

Art Writing is in the situation of a fulcrum.

If Art Writing is in the situation of a fulcrum, then what is being leveraged against it? Of what physical material is Art Writing made? Why are the words “in the situation of” in this sentence when “Art Writing is a fulcrum”, although equally vapid and hollow as a statement, says the same thing in half the space? This is what’s known in my house as a really fucking stupid metaphor. Furthermore it’s an example of art writers using technical and scientific terms with total disregard for what they really mean. The point of any given language having a collectively recognised lexis is that all speakers of that language are, for the most part, able to communicate relatively clearly and efficiently because they all agree that “fulcrum” means “the point against which a lever is placed to get a purchase, or on which it turns or is supported.” In other words, if you start just kidnapping words and unilaterally making meanings up for them without explanation, the result is Babel; linguistic and semiotic chaos. I can start acting as if “fulcrum” means “supermarket”, “my uncle”, “happy” or anything else, but the resulting pronouncements will not be comprehensible to anybody but me. Fulcrum was fulcrum that he was fulcrum to fulcrum fulcrum at the fulcrum.

Art Writing is an anthology of examples.

Art Writing is re-invented in each instance of Art Writing, determining its own criteria.

Art Writing addresses material literary forms, which draw attention to the spatiality of writing and the physicality of its support, but the interests of Art Writing diverge from those of literature.

Is this because literature is actually readable, enjoyable, relevant and the product of craft and creativity?

Art Writing involves relations between people, as discursive. In so far as it is art, Art Writing can engage public space no longer sustained by ground, including that of truth.

“Public space no longer sustained by ground”? Like a playground that fell into a sinkhole? What else could this possibly mean? Truth isn’t a public space either, because truth is another abstract, subjective noun and not a thing that has any objective physical existence you could walk around in or on. That’s why you’ve never heard anybody saying they just bought a lovely sturdy pedestal for their truth, or that all their truth fell off the shelves when their upstairs neighbour slammed the door.

Art Writing institutes such public space without truth, and sometimes disappears into it.

What is Art Writing disappearing into, public space or truth? Apparently there’s lots of stuff around Art Writing, but nobody resembling a copy editor or even a person who speaks English. In any of the possible permutations, none of these three abstract terms can possibly disappear either into each other, or into something that doesn’t exist.

“I can’t find my Art Writing, have you seen it?”

“I think it disappeared into that truth over there a few minutes ago.”

Here is an example of Art Writing disappearing into its own arse. I’ve seen a lot of blithering shit written by people who claim to be professional writers about– sorry, around– art, but for the most part relatively little harm is done except for the writers making themselves sound like fools. They deserve to be thought of as fools anyway because that’s what they are, so who cares? These people are supposed to be educators, though, and that makes me really angry. Talk about art school damage. While I read these statements I felt as I might if I’d experienced a massive embolism in the area of the brain responsible for language processing. This is not the effect any writer or educator should ever cultivate in their readers.


12 May



Supposedly to tie in with the opening of the Frieze and Gap Art Fair in New York– but really apropos of nothing except “ooh, rich people”– somebody called Jason used their own drool (he also contributes to human-shaped joke Tyler Brulé’s Monocle. QED.) to write out a super-duper tip-top list of “the most powerful people in the art world” for The Guardian.

It’s the usual soul-crushing litany of scumbags, twats, con artists, plutocrats and fuckwits but the real enjoyment is to be found in the torrent of vituperation and scorn in the comments. Read them all because there’s some good stuff about the chasm between this tiny, elite art world and what most real artists do or want to do, and what the public wants from artists. Here’s a few of the best comments, complete with the typos from their authors (rightly) being so angry they couldn’t quite control their fingers:

“It’s literally about handjobs, 110% about who you know twixt how well you speak bullshit. For instance if you can write a side of A4 to place next to a sock on the floor, explaining it’s existential significance then you are ready for the big time.”

“And what all this has to do with art? Art is a form of expression, it has nothing to do with power. A true artist is a fee person who is looking for personal satisfaction before anything else. This people are businessmen, money-makers, looking for power and prestige.”

“This something of an art world. It is not the art world. It’s the kind of art world that many who don’t like or understand the practices of contemporary art wish into existence. Farago even seems to identify goodies and baddies. (He is only a journalist) There are many art worlds.”

“Recent academic research reveals a developing gap between the comic-book art world outlined above, and practitioners and audiences, ranging from disenchantment to alienation. A recent publication (Art Production Beyond the Art Market edited by Karen van den Berg & Ursula Pasero) outlines something of the fundamental changes in art production, artists’ strategies and in the interconnection of different fields of cultural practice. Much of it makes the group above look as relevant in 2014 as Stubbs or Kahnweiler or Peggy Guggenheim. The only thing that connects them is wealth…”

“Why does the Guardian grovel and dribble at the mouth over these people? Where’s the critique? Where are the big analytical articles highlighting the shameless collusion of our “top” artists and galleries with the whims and tastes of a detached, decadent global super-rich elite – people who have primarily made their fortunes in a brutally unequal economic system that condemns millions to misery? As a newspaper you have pursued politicians, corporations, policemen and exposed corruption and criminality, but when it comes to the art world you go all starry-eyed and are content to make fawning, adulatory lists. You should be ripping into these people, every single one of them.”

“We need another term for this. It has nothing to do with art, really, so why refer to it as the art world? It’s just a subset of the larger commodity investment field, not so very different than trading in pork belly futures or real estate. Let’s please leave the word art out of it.”

“Depressing that half the collectors on this list stole their money from their own people – or go out with someone that did.”

“A useful list, should the revolution ever actually happen.”



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