Cover Story – Issue 20


So it sells. In this modernity of commerce and commodification of all things human and less than, art utensil based pork scratchings are deemed high-art with an ‘A’ the size of Mount Kilimanjaro. There is a social and economic network at play here: critics review stuff that should merely be swept up and consigned to whichever recycling bin it is designated, based on its materials wasted. The drivel that is talked by such agents of the Art System galls in an age where work is being devalued and flaccid, puerile, and frankly, inept ‘art’ is being sold for ridiculous amounts of money to those whose status depends on the promotion of crap as high, Conceptual Art.

The stench of cliquish opportunism is ripe in such ‘installations’, ‘exhibitions’, collections’, ‘retrospectives’, and books, postcards, bone-idle china et al. So, an Artist with an ‘A’ even bigger than their ego, does a drawing as feeble as an Etch-a-Sketch on Coke and it is received as if there is some atom-splitting, heart-rending depth of analysis, insight, emotional and political radicalism that is so unique as to be something worth more than a continent of humans struggling to stay alive. Oh, yes, these Artists do charity, by giving of their drivel (something they’ve scribbled off in a matter of seconds) to auction off to raise money to ameliorate the ridiculous inequity of human life, but these insightful folks don’t see their role in the inequity when they actually gain self-worth by raking in obscene wealth for something, inflatedly commodified, so many of the dying victims of the inequity could do, if only their weakness from hunger didn’t prevent them from holding a pencil, even a modestly light HB.

There is a monumental temerity in these ‘exhibitions’ of Art, as they infer by their very presentation in galleries and in public and private spaces, that what they ‘see’ and ‘think’ is specifically radical and wonderful, and something ‘ordinary’ folk, are incapable of conceiving. The reality is that the drivel passed as ‘radical conceptual Art’ is something ‘ordinary’ folk think about all day long in their factories, at their desk-pods, and wired in to a telephone; the main difference is that those ‘ordinary’ folk wouldn’t be cheeky enough to present it as art and don’t consider these thoughts to be groundbreaking, radical or worthy of sale at ridiculous prices. There is a definite element of Class mentality in this dichotomy, as most ‘ordinary’ folk see such prospects of getting on as mere lottery dreams due to the fact their ideas would not be taken seriously due to their current anonymity. The proliferation of the lottery opportunistic ‘talent’ shows are welcomed as windows on the bathroom where they do their best singing in the hope that their outstanding talent will be noticed and commodified for a handsome return.

In the ‘middle-earth’ Art milieux, such mundanity would be allowed because someone has been awarded credibility and whatever they produce beyond that point is worthy of Artistic consideration, and even those not in on the ‘game’ that openly criticise and legitimately question the validity of the ‘work of Art’ are marginalised because the emperor’s new clothes are always brilliantly conceived and anyone that cannot see the brilliance simply doesn’t know and cannot see or conceive of Art. The edifice which, from time to time, allows ‘new money’ as if changing its elitist roots to expand – the ridiculously suggested terms as proletarianisation or democratisation of art – into its comfortable bosom, perpetuates the consideration of self-indulgent and self-aggrandising drivel, as those in the club cannot blow the whistle to bring down the sacred cow at whose udders they are gorging themselves.

The offshoot of these elitist machinations are shameless, brazen exhibitions of twigs on mattresses, neon lit, inane platitudes, and severely poor ‘sketches’ that are snobbishly referential to great artists as if this self-inflating ‘in knowledge’ is enough to give it value beyond its artistic merit. Installations that take time and money, and effort of the rude mechanicals aiding and abetting the artistic project, resulting in a piece that wouldn’t pass GCSE examinations as having any artistic merit. Such referents should make the modern Artist blanch rather than gain credibility of their own drivel production. The whole issue merely illustrates how self-absorbed the paid up members of the Art community are in their own promotion as artist with a capital ‘A’.

Yes, art and its manifestations are conceptual, and a significant part of being creative human beings, but sadly, opportunistic deception is also specifically human; our ability to deceive one another has been lauded and enjoyed throughout the ages but when this deception creates elites and morbid inequality that perpetuates their own self-aggrandising importance, it is not revolutionary but regressive.

How enlightened do you feel when confronted by technically inept but brazen ‘Conceptual Art’ to which you are supposed to give serious consideration because it has a ‘reputation’ signed on it, when all your gut feelings and rational thought cry ‘commercial opportunism most foul’?

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