Thursday, 11 October 2012


CAC (Contemporary Art Collective) R.I.P Art 2008

I haven’t been blogging for a while. I have chastised myself for this, although I wouldn’t think of it as an artistic activity, its’ one the few sounding boards I have. My thoughts flow better when I hear them aloud or see them in front of me. In reality it will have to fit with the ebb and flow of life… you understand I hope.  The book idea is going slowly and I’ve had some visual ideas for it. Thankfully this will provide an opportunity to revel in process and material (hopefully) in a print room.  I can stop thinking about words, research and meaning for a bit, so things can just flow…

So while I’m going slowly the seasons kicking off, galleries putting their best foot forward, Freize Art Fair and the rest. I went along to a couple of talks at Tate recently by live artists Tino Segal and Spartacus Chetwynd.  It’s not where I’m at right now, but somehow I’m still drawn to a more demonstratively ‘active’ art space.  I find the making and use of props in Chetwynd’s performances attractive, but in hearing her speak, I thought she underplayed the academic grounding of her work. She seemed to prioritise a sense of fun and suggest that fun was entirely the point. I struggled to believe this, not that I think fun doesn’t have a place in art. Maybe we all know too much? Maybe we’ve heard about the equivalency of high and low culture, interrupting or sabotaging gallery conventions too many times. Certainly the installation gives more information, such as a text by Bertolt Brecht examining and valorising amateur theatre and her explanation about using Chaucer’s tales as a mirror to reflect morality of current times. If I believed it were only about fun - one could find it at a good club night or festival. Perhaps the difference is whether you’re out of your head or not. But in her talk she did mention Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of Carnivalesque, proposing the essential function of frivolity as a radical rethinking of society.

In response to a statement about art not wanting to look like it, Mr Segal reckoned his work was readily received as art - that perhaps built into the paradigm of what new forms can be, is the freedom to renounce the values of its’ predecessor. He had some other criteria to, but I forget now - I didn’t make notes…  But I discovered that the art institution and its characteristics are central to the framing of his work. His question ‘is it good art?’ is just as complicated and nuanced as the ‘is it art?’ question - very much dependant upon social and cultural circumstances and values. I have heard and read the term ‘anti art’ on many occasions in historical texts, but you wonder whether any of these gestures succeeded in destroying art as a concept.  If anything its’ become porous – an amorphous entity which could feasibly embrace everybody and everything. So maybe asking if something is art a pretty futile these days? I think artists are weary of the pedestal, of the quasi-religious or genius standing of (so called) ‘high’ art forms in relation to other creative ones? If the thing becomes too lofty then its struggle to live up to, we’re all human after all…

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