Tag Archives: pretentious

CHARLIE HEBDON’T

10 Feb

Marines_do_pushups

Occasionally it seems there might be some kind of counter-performance art organisation, one that actively does everything it can to bring performance art into disrepute. A bit like SPECTRE from the James Bond books and films. As suggested by their acronym Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, SPECTRE mainly just wants to instigate conflict and benefit from the chaos that ensues. I propose that there is a secret organisation called SPESPA (Special Executive for Shit Performance Art) and it exists solely to make the general public think all performance artists are twats.

This week’s covert SPESPA operative bent upon ruining live art’s reputation is Chinese performance artist (and “former television presenter”, which gives you some idea of his likely intellect) Ou Zihang, who has been doing push-ups in the nude at the sites of recent terrorist attacks in Paris. No surprise that he’s a fellow traveller of overrated hack fraud attention whore Ai Weiwei, who recently incurred the displeasure and disgust even of the normally unbothered and amoral art mainstream art press by playing at being a drowned toddler on a beach on Lesbos. Ou’s one and only artistic gambit involves getting undressed and doing push-ups in front of things. That’s all he’s got.

Ou obliquely but amusingly let slip the real reason he does naked push-ups, and it ain’t art or “drawing attention to scandals.” When he started doing naked push-ups near the offices of Charlie Hebdo and outside the Bataclan, he was dreadfully disappointed not to be arrested:

“Normally, there are police officers, security guards, cameras in front of a sensitive place. Especially in a country that is currently in a state of emergency. But, in the end, there was no control or restraint. This puzzled me.” (French source.)

In other words, without causing a scene and being the centre of attention he is nothing. His only validation is in being told he’s annoying, following the Dorian Gray school of thought that “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” I imagine Ou only gets arrested in China because they think he’s being a tool, not because his adolescent level of critique and infantile means of resistance are any threat to the state. Plus, if he’d done any basic research he’d know that far from being shocked by nudity the French bloody love it.

Just sod off, you fucking imbecile.

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PROFUNDITY, PROVENANCE, PROFIT

7 Oct

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Profundity

RipeForPlucking

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SuspiciousProvenance

THE ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT

10 Sep

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Muse

OutWithTheOld  ImAnArtist

LOW ART, FAILED ART

11 Aug

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Some reflections on the mainstream versus the highbrow by David Foster Wallace, from his collection of non-fiction A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I always liked his factual writing and journalism much more than his fiction. Thanks for asking, happy to set the record straight. The eponymous essay is not related to the subject of this post, but it’s also worth reading because I think it’s one of the best and most incisive things ever written about the baffling, illogical, mindless conformity of package tourism. The supposedly fun thing is a holiday on a cruise ship, which makes him wretchedly, hilariously miserable and confused.

The original context of Wallace’s discussions were mainly related to film and television, but I think the quotes are applicable to any medium including contemporary visual art. That’s why they’re here. Duh.

“Art film is essentially ideological: it tries in various ways to “wake the audience up” or render us more “conscious.” (This kind of agenda can easily degenerate into pretentiousness and self-righteousness and condescending horsetwaddle, but the agenda itself is large-hearted and fine.) Commercial film doesn’t seem like it cares very much about an audience’s instruction or enlightenment. Commercial film’s goal is to “entertain,” which usually means enabling various fantasies that allow the moviegoer to pretend he’s somebody else and that life is somehow bigger and more coherent and more compelling and attractive and in general just more entertaining than a moviegoer’s life really is. You could say that a commercial movie doesn’t try to wake people up but rather to make their sleep so comfortable and their dreams so pleasant that they will fork over money to experience it—this seduction, a fantasy-for-money transaction, is a commercial movie’s basic point.”

(Discussing David Lynch specifically, and the period between The Elephant Man and the late nineties when his art– or at least arty– films experienced something like mainstream success. Except for Dune, which was a critical and commercial disaster.)

“Some of which [Lynch’s art photos] are creepy and moody and sexy and cool and some of which are just photos of spark plugs and dental equipment and seem kind of dumb… Watching Dune again on video you can see that some of its defects are clearly Lynch’s responsibility, e.g. casting the nerdy and potato-faced Kyle MacLachlan as an epic hero and the Police’s resoundingly unthespian Sting as a psycho villain, or— worse— trying to provide plot exposition by having characters’ thoughts audibilized (w/ that slight thinking-out-loud reverb) on the soundtrack while the camera zooms in on the character making a thinking-face… The overall result is a movie that’s funny while it’s trying to be deadly serious, which is as good a definition of a flop as there is… the movie looks gutted, unintentionally surreal.”

While also nailing the main problems with Dune, Wallace articulates here what I see as the problem that also afflicts a lot of contemporary art: it too is funny while it’s trying to be deadly serious. Hence, Artbollocks Theatre.

“TV is the epitome of Low Art in its desire to appeal to and enjoy the attention of unprecedented numbers of people. But it is not Low because it is vulgar or prurient or dumb. Television is often all these things, but this is a logical function of its need to attract and please Audience. And I’m not saying that television is vulgar and dumb because the people who compose Audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests… the truth is that there’s some complex high-dose psychic transaction between TV and Audience whereby Audience gets trained to respond to and then like and then expect trite, hackneyed, numbing television shows, and to expect them to such an extent that when networks do occasionally abandon time-tested formulas Audience usually punishes them for it by not watching novel shows in sufficient numbers to let them get off the ground.”

“PRETENTIOUS”, “ABSURD”, “ASTONISHING SELF-IMPORTANCE”

21 Jun

… THE FIRST HONEST TINO SEHGAL REVIEW EVER

Two shocking outbreaks of critique against the art world’s elite this week. By “shocking”, of course, I mean shocking that they actually got published at all. Artists and art people talk a million tons of shit about each other every single day in private, but not much of it ever comes out publicly. Except on this blog, obviously [LEERING TROLL FACE].

Firstly– though admittedly from the No Shit Sherlock Department– Pretentious Tino Sehgal Delivers Absurd Talk With Tina Brown to Baffled Bankers at Art Basel.* Pretentious, pompous Emperor’s New Clothes Tino Sehgal is pretentious, pompous and wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes. The story has no byline, but Artnet News helpfully provides this page, complete with mugshots, where you could try to work out who was responsible for dissing the non-performing performance artist with Homer Simpson’s hair and Marvin the Paranoid Android’s sense of humour. Regardless of who wrote it, when even those people accustomed to buttoning their lip and saying nothing if they can’t say anything nice think you’re so pretentious and full of “astonishing self-importance” that nobody could be offended by them saying so… you’re definitely one of the art world’s arseholes de les arseholes.

* The alliteration of Baffled Bankers made me think of Waffled Wankers. That is all, carry on.

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TINO SAYS:

“One of the biggest civilizational achievements of the West, apart from soap, is the convention of opening hours. There are two modalities on which you can organize people: appointments…and opening hours.”

Every single factual [sic] part of this paragraph is so far from being true or cogent that I would suspect he was trying to make some kind of provocative, trolling statement here, if I didn’t also suspect much more strongly that he genuinely thought this was a profound observation. “Civilizational” is not a word, nor should it be.

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