Arts & Elbows

A catalogue of commentary on events in Thanet and occassionally the rest of the world.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Artspeak in 12 Easy Lessons

The most significant effect of funding arts from the public purse is not the great works it has commissioned rather it's unquantifiable but undeniable disfigurement of contemporary art in the minds of the public including many truly talented artists.
This is not a shocking development once you recognise how this new style of patronage is no more about art, artists or the public than it is about potatoes or soft fluffy kittens. It's a uniquely profitable opportunity for the non-creative and unartistic to build empires founded on management techniques disguised as high snobbery.
This disguise serves a stereo purpose, in one channel it proposes an connection to the elitism of high culture, in the other it suggests incredible intellect. The first wrongly implies membership of a cultural elite, arts managers are effectively no different from supermarket managers except most skillfully avoid delivering value for money, or decent levels of service. The latter is a more cunning ploy, an automatic denial of criticism because if one doesn't agree then one must simply be stupid.
The evolution of the Orwellian tongue known as Artspeak is a glowing example of all this. It's a deliberate attempt to obscure rather than illuminate in the style of a masonic handshake. If you rub the end of your chin and opine a "Hmmmm, I see..." you're in, but should you dare to apply critical thought you're simply not one of them.
Another shining example is when you see a piece of contemporary art with an A4 piece of paper of explanation on the wall next to it. This anti-communication is deliberate, it paves the way towards funding, not least because the government has a taste for art which says nothing, offends no-one and which won't encourage any form of meaningful thought. They adore the idea of reducing art to decoration for a self appointed elitist clique, artists to funded chums, and keeping the oiks out of their pristine galleries.
The only mildly inconvenient part is how us, the oiks, are the ones paying for it, but thankfully for those enthroned simply showing dreadfully poor and irrelevent art keeps us away rather effectively.


Anonymous Lang Rabbie said...

It is just a bit too easy to parody...

1:14 AM  
Blogger Eastcliff Richard said...

Combine the emperor's new pants with the old boy network and that's what you get, it seems. Really enjoying the blog, by the way.

10:36 AM  
Blogger tony flaig said...

I refuse to believe that a bunch of inbred no talent smart asses, would think of condescending in the way you're suggesting, at our expense, frankly I'm shocked

5:14 PM  
Blogger Artyblartfast said...

Lang: Funny though.
Eastcliff Richard: Glad you like it, maybe add me to your team so I can comment on yours old boy.
Tony: I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

At one of the Turner Openings I recently I commented that the large important paintings on show were boring. You Knew they were important because the stretcher frames were 6 inches thick! One of the staff hissed in a clipped cut glass accent 'so you only like safe art then'
I wish I could have thought of something witty at the time like,'Sorry darlin,I'm local' while wiping my nose with my sleeve and scratching my arse.But I'm a nice boy.
These people like to think they're 'pushing the envelope'. Oh yeah, they're pushing lot's of envelopes around alright. The envelope budget is *&£$%!! huge.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Artyblartfast said...

Adrian: A fine example of implied stupidity. I imagine they're hoping you won't go back, you're obviously not Turner grade material, thankfully.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a shame!each one of th exibitions i have been to the staff are either locals or young students all of whom have been very polite and friendly and helpful,always keen to hear my point of view [not a clipped glass in sight!]

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Highly entertaining tragicomedy; thats the art funding mess down here in Margate, I'm enjoying finding out whats actually going on, its like an episode of Dallas! With leading players and bit part actors. But then again, it doesnt affect my life, for those artists it does; the situation must be quite different.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment to Adrian about only liking 'safe' art is a misnomer and the idiot who said it should be laughed at heartily; because, if its in an expensive frame in a funded art gallery.... Its safe.... Absolutely safe....

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

Perhaps I was being a trifle dramatic, but more to illustrate a point. The paintings were boring and looked like photoshop noodlings rendered in paint. There were no expensive frames. The canvas was stretched over a deep box frame . This can make even mediocre paintings look important in a pristine gallery enviroment.
As for the Babes at the Gurner Temporary, they are sweet and polite and will humour you if you want to discuss the work.
However there does seem to be a gulf in their perception of the audience. There are are plenty of people here who've had experience with conceptual art. It didn't just appear in the 90's starting with Goldsmith's and BritArt. But I'm getting cranky in my old age and I should save my comments for this veritable organ.
All this curator led politicised work is couched in it's own Think Tank language and it's happening everywhere. It's mostly humourless fluffy bollards.
And it must be a heady mix for the Gurner Babes what with Norwegian Embassies, Culture Ministers,Politicians, Mayors and Ambassadors from all over.
Maybe they're building some kind of Spy network with Galleries as a front.
'Let me get this right 'Q', you want me to drive this speedboat through that wedding reception?'
'It's an intervention 0023, do grow up!'
Easy to parody? You betcha.

6:57 PM  

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