Wednesday, 29 July 2009

modern art? another rant

I saw a report on the news about the furore that has been caused by an exhibition at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art. The point of the exhibition was about how people can feel marginalised by the Church for whatever reason e.g. sexuality, and how they could 'write their stories' back into the Bible. So to this end, the artists who devised the show presented a copy of the Bible and invited visitors to write in it. Of course (dur!) what happened was that they defaced it with obscene language and inappropriate messages - not quite what the artist intended. This resulted in demonstrations outside the gallery, denouncing the fact that the gallery had allowed this to happen (imagine if it had been any other holy book?), and now the book has been placed under glass, and any comments are to be written in a separate, blank book alongside it.

What bothered me much more than the defacement of the Bible itself (after all, I am a raving atheist), was that this had all been presented as modern art. Another exhibit was a video of a woman ripping pages out of the Bible and stuffing them into her mouth, bra and underpants - some reference to 'word as power' or some such rubbish. I cannot articulate how angry this stuff makes me sometimes. I don't think it's art, it's just bollocks. I don't care if you think that 'art' should encompass conceptual stuff like this, I still hate it - it's pretentious, pointless, provocative self-indulgence.

This news show was followed by another episode of Imagine with Alan Yentob, the second of a two-part programme discussing the place that art has in times of recession and other socio-political trouble. This second installment explored the role of funding of the arts, its history and future. It was quite interesting, if a little highbrow for 10.30 at night :-), so I lost patience when they veered into the realms of theatre. I learnt a couple of good things though - most interesting to me was the story of the 'pitmen painters' or the Ashington Group in the 1930s, which was a group of miners who taught themselves how to paint, and chose to depict scenes from their everyday lives. There is a pleasing naïveté to much of the work, and real accomplishment in some of the paintings. You can see a collection of their work at the Woodhorn Colliery Museum in Ashington, Northumberland - the website only has very small but enticing images so now I feel compelled to go and have a look. If only it weren't so far away!

All of this led to Mark and I having a lengthy discussion about the importance of arts funding today. I moaned about the lack of encouragement for people to go into the arts - I was discouraged at school and ended up studying sciences until I realised at the age of 20 that I was bored to tears with it. I also had a moan about how exclusive a lot of arts funding is - the money is usually for people who want to create pretentious fine art, you know, proper artists. I'm just a commercial drudge, me, and I make enough money (apparently) through the sale of my soul to the media, so I don't deserve to be encouraged.

Rant over. Sorry. Maybe I'll have something more fun to say this afternoon.

1 comment:

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