There is an art installation by a chinese artist called Wang Quingsong, or rather there was. It has been dismantled. The surprising, and enterprising, thing about this piece was it was alive. I don’t mean that in an arty way I mean it literally. It was a frieze composed of a long panel of people. Yes, you heard me right, people. Living, breathing, human beings covered in clay and positioned, placed would be a more apt term as many had to be lifted in, strategically along the frieze. They held their pose for half an hour after which many had to be lifted out, their limbs stiff and unmoving due to being held in one position for so long. I love transient art, like that of Andres Amador.
Actually I adore art, I love to see the result of people’s imagination, what they are able to create, the lengths that some will go to fully express an idea. That is also why I detest installations like Tracey Emin‘s bed. I wholeheartedly admit that I am not an artist, an art critic or, in any way, qualified to discuss the merits of one piece over another, especially when it comes to modern pieces. But items like the Bed, Hirst’s calf, the pile of bricks or even the slashed canvas at the Tate Modern leave me stunned. It is the equivalent of the schoolboy waggling a naked bum out of a car window, designed to impress with shock tactics and sheer bravado, aware that he can, and will, get away with it if he can manage to get someone gullible enough to laugh.
My friends and I are off to Amsterdam later this year and we spoke of visiting the red light district. There you can see ladies and men of the night displaying their potential in brightly lit windows. In Camden there was a flasher. Now, I pondered on the vagaries of society whereby the flasher was persona non grata yet the bare-all window sales pitch was titillating. But it amounts to the same thing – sexual gratification. The flasher has no intention of doing anything other than gratify his own urges, he shocks, he is indiscriminate, he is obvious and, above all, he is blatantly furtive (contradiction, I know). But the person in the window is there to entice, he/she appeals to your senses, your eyes, your humour, your desire for release. They do not rely on shock but on fascination.
Many a time have I passed a particular section of wall, or a cupboard, or a stairwell and revelled in the play of light, the colours, the symmetry and attitude of lines but I would never go so far as to call it art. There is something pleasingly simple about the way a beam of sunlight will strike across a floor but it isn’t art. It just is. So, to the authors of the bed and all the other modern pieces that claim to be ‘artistic’, I regret that I am one of those ignorant of the exact quality of your particular genius. All I see is the childish need for attention. My wallet will stay firmly in my pocket and I shall talk with my feet.
- Gauguin exhibit opens at Tate Modern in London (seattletimes.nwsource.com)