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Author Topic: Galleries  (Read 7518 times)
situgrrl
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« on: April 17, 2008, 06:36:45 PM »
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I like to think I'm a pretty cultured kind of girl, even if in a counter-culture fashion.  I'm writing a novel, perform comedy and like to think I'm pretty useful with a camera too.  In enjoy reading, am a regular theatre goer and have a music collection that encompasses blues, metal and various classical styles (though if I'm honest, I couldn't name them).

For me "a picture tells a thousand words" is a phrase that sums up the potential for the medium perfectly.  Despite this, whenever I visit a gallery, I am left wondering exactly what the artist is telling me.  Often, they will have written an "artists statement" to explain their work - but since when should a picture need explaining?  

I realised that I had little time for "art" galleries whilst wondering around the Arts Mundi exhibition in Cardiff a couple of years ago.  I failed to get the point of any of the installations, the films, the prisms on ropes and all of the rest which I've forgotten.  Earlier the same year, I went to the Tate Modern.  I was similarly disaffected.  This isn't to say I don't like art - I'm a big fan not only Banksy's work because it's meaning is plainly obvious, we happen to share a political viewpoint and I find subversiveness a deeply attractive feature in others'.  Van Gogh's later works depicting his solitude I find hauntingly beautiful and Picasso's work never needed explaining to me in art classes at school.

Similarly, I can reel off names of photographers' who's work I admire - HCB, Annie Leibovitz, Don McCullin, Lee Miller, Boogie and so forth.  If these people are all of a certain mold then I would suggest it is because what interests me above all is the nature of humans.  I do, however, recognise a great landscape when I see one and I do enjoy it.  I can take some meaning out of it and I do find our planet limitlessly incredible.  It is, perhaps, a shame that I feel uneasy about exploring it further but I hate camping, am scared when outside of a mobile signal, can't make fire with sticks and rain makes my hair frizzy.

So yesterday, I was in a well known photography gallery in London.  I chose to see an exhibition about people.  Specifically, it was several artists' work in depicting their own continent.  Please, someone, what is so incredible about 10 000 passport photographs of 10 000 people selected at random, who's only thing in common is their nationality?  Why is this art?  

Another display was meant to be about goths in Venezula. The pictures were okay.  Reasonably well composed, well printed etc and this is something that should immediately have grabbed my attention.  You see, I know a thing or two about the goth subculture, I'm one of the ones that never grew out of wearing too much eyeliner.  I still go dancing at Slimes, ****at TG and still drink snakebite and black at the Devonshire Arms.  The pictures, despite their makeup and clothes and the plainly obvious point that the girls were real rather than models dressed in stripy socks, told me nothing - not even anything I already knew.  There was none of the stronger-than-blood loyalties that underpin the scene.  There was no dark humour in them and nothing of the music, the culture or the lifestyle which define the scene. It is true, that though the fact that each photograph contained only one person, a slight sense of contrived isolation was achieved but since the reason for the scene enduring so long is the way that draws the isolated together into a community, it's portrayal seems totally inaccurate and rather condescending.

So is there hope for me?  Am I in fact a philestine because I am unable to enjoy art galleries?  Or am I right and there is far too much shite selling with a 30 000 price tag?

PS - if you want to decide for yourselves whether I can handle a camera or whether in fact, I'm rubbish and should therefore hawk my work to big off galleries at absurdly inflated prices - go to www.charlyburnett.com and don't winge about the annoying scrolling thumbnails.  My brother is currently locked in a cage working on a solution.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2008, 09:23:20 PM »
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I remember that when all the kiddies way back when were clinging to Andy Warhol's every burp, my in-laws were hanging out with his parents at the ocean, painting this and that and enjoying the fresh air. I think the solution is just balance - get out to the street (or jungle) once for each gallery you visit, to even things out. Sometimes you have to check the inner networks to see when something truly original is going to pop up. It's hard work sometimes, and it doesn't get any easier whether in L.A., New York, or Salzburg.
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2008, 03:46:11 AM »
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Your penultimate paragraph said it all for me too.

Most conceptual 'art' is based on one of two premises IMO:

1 It's art because I say it is (the Tate pile of bricks was the classic example)

2. Some mildly interesting observation that is worth, perhaps, a two minute discussion over a pint is laboured over and turned into a full exhibition, which is not worth the time or effort to support the thin premise behind it.

My rule of thumb is - if you can't tell what it's about after reading the gallery puff, then it probably isn't really art, even if the Artist says so.

http://thespog.blog.co.uk/?tag=art-with-a-capital-f
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jjj
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2008, 04:50:40 AM »
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My rule of thumb is - if you can't tell what it's about after reading the gallery puff, then it probably isn't really art, even if the Artist says so.
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Just because you don't get something, that doesn't mean it isn't art.
It simply means you don't get it. Lots of people dislike/don't see the point in Opera, so does that mean it's not art or worthwhile?
But thinking things you don't understand or dislike are automatically not art, is a remarkably arrogant/snobby attitude.
There are lots of things I don't like/appreciate, but I'm open minded enough to realize others may like what I don't.
And if something is not to my taste, I pass by and look at things that are.
Some, probably most art only appeals to a minority of people, does that make it any less worthy.  

This is not to say there is no poor art out there. And the new, shocking and misunderstood all too often become quotidian and then quaint. Goths were mentioned above in OP, 25 years ago that was a really shocking and rebellious way to dress, now it's simply another everyday dress style that you can buy in high street chain stores.

Sometimes when things are put into context and you understand the whys and wherefores, then a piece of art can take on new meaning/become more interesting. This could be symbolism in a medieval painting or some contemporary conceptual art. Other times, you still don't like it.

To illustrate appreciation or lack of - I've been involved in dance for many years and also DJed and a common bit of nonsense I come across is that all Latin music sounds the same. You explain, that's like saying all European music sounds the same and when one is not familiar with something, one tends to notice similarities as opposed to when some is familiar with something, one tends to notice the differences.
For example, if you hear someone speaking English [as a native speaker] you can often tell by the accent where they came from, whereas when hearing a foreign language you are not familiar with, you only hear, say Chinese. And not only can you not tell there's an accent, but won't realise, which of the several Chinese languages it is as it all sounds the same to an untutored ear. And even when you explain this, the response is along the lines of, 'Bollocks, Latin is all the same.'  It's their failure to appreciate, not that the music in fact sounds the same. You get the same criticism within our own society, when the generation above moan about the current youth music all sounding the same, fogetting their parents said the same thing about their music when they were young.




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I still go dancing at Slimes, ****at TG and still drink snakebite and black at the Devonshire Arms.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=190272\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
One of the most popular shots in my folio was taken at TG
[a href=\"http://www.futtfuttfutt.com/abstract/abstract_futt_futt_futt_photography_01.html]NYE @ TG[/url]
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Tradition is the Backbone of the Spineless.   Futt Futt Futt Photography
dalethorn
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2008, 10:31:28 AM »
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Great topic. Years ago an acapella group called the "Bobs" did a song "Art for art's sake." Very amusing. I recently bought my first opera DVD 'Aida', and I enjoy the music because I've made MP4 clips of what I like and ignore the rest. Hanging out in my in-laws' gallery (i.e. their home) was not easy, esp. when all those self-portraits are glaring at you. Not to mention the plethora of "series" paintings. I suspect that these galleries are usually little more than an exploitation of the upwardly mobile at the expense (mostly) of struggling artists. There must be a book out there "How I made it from Venice Beach to Chelsea, the real story." Well, the only thing bad about art is bad art, and if we hold our breaths waiting for the gallery circuit to do some real work instead of cheap exploitation, we could have a long wait.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2008, 12:20:02 PM »
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I like to think I'm a pretty cultured kind of girl, even if in a counter-culture fashion.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=190272\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hey, I'm with you. I read voraciously and visit local galleries with some frequency, George Eastman House at least once a month for the photography exhibits. But I'm a bit of a Phillistine when it comes to art; I expect it to have at least a nominal claim to beauty on some level, and to demonstrate some kind of skill. Canadian poet/typographer Robert Bringhurst calls it "grace and firmness of gesture". But a substantial chunk of contemporary art depends entirely on a clever, droll or witty idea as its sole claim to significance. Any craftsmanship or actual, you know, skill in the rendering is entirely incidental.

There was a time when "high art" was a bit more integrated into middle class life, at least in the U.S. The average educated lay person could enjoy something like an Aaron Copeland concert, or a Robert Frost reading, or Edward Hopper's paintings. Conventional, I know. But over the last 5 decades, from the perspective of us average folks, the fine art world has become increasingly bizarre, self-referential and irrelevant.

10,000 randomly selected passport photos? Ah yes, it's a clever, witty commentary on conformity...or...the bovine nature of average citizens or...something. No actual craftsmanship or skill involved at all, beyond snarky condescension toward the masses.

I think that Mo the bartender (The Simpsons) said it best.

"I don't get it. What's it supposed to be?"
"It's Po Mo."
"Huh?"
"Post modern".
"What?"
"Weird for the sake of being weird".
"Ohhhh!".
« Last Edit: April 18, 2008, 12:21:20 PM by Geoff Wittig » Logged
LoisWakeman
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2008, 10:50:29 AM »
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It simply means you don't get it. Lots of people dislike/don't see the point in Opera, so does that mean it's not art or worthwhile?
But thinking things you don't understand or dislike are automatically not art, is a remarkably arrogant/snobby attitude.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=190345\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Oh, you mean Opera the browser?

I guess my lighthearted reply was taken too seriously. Mental note to add smily next time.
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Stuarte
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2008, 12:16:29 PM »
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After extensive research, I have found five attitudes towards art.

a - Too much art is bad for you.
b - Not enough art is good for you
c - Too much art is good for you
d - Not enough art is bad for you.
e - Art?

Depending on a person's responses to those statements, it's possible to identify their unconscious prejudices and preferences and general state of being - elitist, populist, authoritarian, libertarian, traditional, progressive, whateverist, uptight, drunk, deluded, indifferent etc.
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