Tag: France

“ARTIFICIAL, ESPERANTO ART” AND ITS DISCONTENTS

“ARTIFICIAL, ESPERANTO ART” AND ITS DISCONTENTS

CAREER SUICIDE

20150327OUTSIDER-slide-44G0-jumbo Costumes by Vahad Poladian. Photo by Hiroko Masuike, The New York Times

Some gems from Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond by John Maizels. Regular readers of this blog will know that I like a bit of O/outsider attitude.

“What country doesn’t have its small sector of cultural art, its brigade of career intellectuals? It’s obligatory. From one capital to another they perfectly ape one another, practising an artificial, esperanto art, which is indefatigably recopied everywhere. But can we really call this art? Does it have anything to do with art?” Jean Dubuffet in L’Art brut préferé aux arts culturels, 1946.

This was in 1946 and it’s still just as true seventy years later. Very, very depressing. This tale of masterful gallery fucking-uppery is much more comforting:

“Scottie Wilson (1888-1972)… had been a junk dealer, making a living by salvaging what he could from the bits and pieces that…

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CHARLIE HEBDON’T

CAREER SUICIDE

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…

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ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE S3E4: PREPOSTAPOCALYPTIC

ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE S3E4: PREPOSTAPOCALYPTIC

CAREER SUICIDE

OOO BONDAGE UP YOURS!

Dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism. All real, all serious, all horribly written. I apologise in advance for any foreign or jargon words that I accidentally pronounced correctly. In this write up of an exhibition from France we’ve not only got OOOers [sic], but also “negative faith”, wax balls, and typos a go-go (underlined in red, as if I’m that paperclip fellow from MS Word.) Multiple typos and grammatical errors are always good in a press release or any other form of official communication, because they really convey professionalism.

You can play along with your Artbollocks Bingo card, and you can watch more Artbollocks Theatre here on the blog or on my Vimeo channel.

If you don’t know what Object Oriented Ontology is, then a quick look at Wikipedia is probably quite sufficient. If you do

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Ce sont des hypocrites

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B7DtUsQCYAIcV-z “Saudi Arabia condemns the terrorist attack on freedom of expression in Paris …”

While millions of ordinary people marched the streets of Paris (and throughout France and the rest of Europe) to show solidarity with each other and with the victims of the necromaniac terrorist attacks there last week, they were joined by some extremely rum, opportunistic and unconvincing Charlies like Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (who has presided over a dragnet approach to arresting independent or critical journalists in Turkey), Sergey Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister (cf. Pussy Riot imprisoned for offending the church, “promotion” of homosexuality banned, opposition politicians convicted of trumped-up charges in a climate of repression against the very idea of a free press) and Ali Bongo, the president of Gabon who has journalists threatened and arrested for exposing his own corruption and that of his family. Not to mention the usual chickenhawks, particularly in the…

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ROMANCING THE STONERS

ROMANCING THE STONERS

CAREER SUICIDE

OR: PEOPLE WHO THROW STONES SHOULDN’T LIVE IN GOVERNMENT HOUSES

The Louvre is shortly to open a new facility in Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel and looking like some kind of Logan’s Run shit that nobody who knew anything about art would ever want to show art in, as is usual for 21st century art silos. Talk about sterile. An outpost of the Guggenheim is also in progress, which will probably be equally austere, inhumane, architect-cool and ghastly. Having realised that they probably need some art or something– even if most of the walls are wonky or fifty meters from floor level– the gold-plated Arabic Louvre flagship store just announced the loan of 300 art works from French institutions. So let’s explore beautiful Abu Dhabi as it uses up the Earth’s precious resources to water lawns in the desert, let’s check out some of the art works being…

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America…

America…

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BAISE OUAIS!

BaudrillardAmerica

I’ve been reading Postmodernist patriarch Jean Baudrillard’s book about the USA, called America (Verso 1988, new edition 2010). Although it’s occasionally mired in the kind of obscurantist, elliptical wittering that he’s rightly condemned for by some people– the gobbledygook blindly imitated to devastatingly stupid effect by many academics, critics and artists since the 1990s– it also has some incredibly sharp observations about a country and a populace that at heart he obviously enjoys a great deal. He often unfavourably compares his native France to the USA, although this is not as funny as his bullseye hits on US culture; these are not very far from what (postmodernist) native writers like Chuck Palahniuk and David Foster Wallace would be doing ten years or so later.

Writing in the mid 1980s, Baudrillard also makes some incredibly prescient and accurate observations about where Reaganism, Thatcherism and the whole greed-is-good yuppie privatisation…

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2,000,000 dots and 325 animals

2,000,000 dots and 325 animals

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Poster for a sideshow type act at the Folies-Bergére, circa 1880s-1890s. Poster for a sideshow type act at the Folies-Bergère, circa 1880s.

Recently I was at the ethnographic Musée du quai Branly in Paris. A post about some of the museum’s permanent collection of lovely, demented and/or terrifying masks will follow shortly, but the museum also currently have an exhibition on (until the middle of October 2014) called Tatoueurs, Tatoués (Tattooers, Tattooed) which is worth seeing if only to be reminded that there can be more to tattoos than spelling error tramp stamps, nonsense kanji, the ubiquitous badly drawn pseudo-tribal sleeve, and permanent disfigurements that are just plain wrong.

The exhibition has modern examples and historical images from all over Asia, Europe and Oceania, but for some reason the image that stuck with me was the one shown above, of ‘Captain Costentenus’. Maybe it’s just my general prediliction for Victoriana. He was an attraction at the Folies-Bergère, the…

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Anatomic bombs

Anatomic bombs

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As research for something I’m writing, I recently re-read Aldous Huxley’s book The Devils of Loudun (1952), which is a very thorough, sardonic account of the 1630s outbreak of mass nymphomaniac diabolical hysteria instigated by a bunch of “possessed” nuns to get back at an unpopular local clergyman. I hate it when that happens. Nowadays the book is primarily known as the source material for Ken Russell’s salacious 1970s nunsploitation version with Oliver Reed, The Devils. Why this pertains to what I’m writing is not important to relate right now, but among the excellent background material about France in the 17th century is the following section about the general filthiness of things:

“The most grotesque of avoidable mishaps would mar the most solemn occasions. Consider, for example, the case of La Grande Mademoiselle*, that pathetic figure of fun who was Louis XIV’s first cousin. After death, according to…

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Flaubert… where you from and what you on?

Flaubert… where you from and what you on?

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“Paris will become a winter garden; espaliered fruit trees on the boulevard. The Seine filtered and warm – an abundance of fake gemstones – a profusion of gilding – the houses lit up – the light will be stored, for there are bodies that have this property, such as sugar, the flesh of certain molluscs and Bologna phosphorus. The fronts of the houses will be made to be daubed with this phosphorescent substance, and their radiance will light the streets.”

Visions of a lovely biotech future Paris from Gustave Flaubert’s unfinished draft of Bouvard and Pécuchet, the novel he was working on when he died in 1880. I suspect he may have had more than one sip of the laudanum on the night he wrote this. If it was the 1980s instead of the 1880s I’d say Ecstasy. It has that kind of E’d up I LOVE YOU SO…

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TRUSTAFARIANS OF THE BELLE ÉPOQUE

TRUSTAFARIANS OF THE BELLE ÉPOQUE

CAREER SUICIDE

To the manor born

Although it now predates any living memory, it’s a very recent Western notion that artists are unique and delicate snowflakes pursuing a vocation for the love of it. Historically artists were valued as craftsmen and artisans, on a par with carpenters or stonemasons. Being an artist was certainly better than being a peasant, but among the aristocratic classes for whom artists generally worked there was still a hint of the base or the vulgar clinging to anybody who got their hands dirty and needed to actually do anything for a living. Henri Rousseau, for example, was lambasted by the art establishment because he had the audacity to be self taught and to have worked solidly in the same relatively menial clerical job for about forty years before he took early retirement in order to pursue painting.

So there was a certain degree of inevitability in the…

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THE VOID

THE VOID

CAREER SUICIDE

Most people never get to see art galleries when they’re between shows and completely empty of art. Personally, I often find that I like the now orthodox and universal white cube gallery setup much more when it’s vacant than I do when it’s full. I’m remembered in a few places for having them paint the walls because I hate white ones so much when I’m showing my work. I’m guessing that Yves Klein (1928-1962) was also struck by the alienating, Zen effect of the empty white gallery and its effect on our state of mind as we look at art; hence Le Vide (The Void) of 1958 at Galerie Iris Clert, Paris.

This completely whitewashed, bare space was meticulously hyped by Klein and the resulting so-called “scandal” of an artist exhibiting an empty gallery attracted over two thousand people to the opening. Note the empty vitrine in one of…

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