fri 23 feb 2007 16:51:54 raamgracht
art is bullshit
yesterday was a big railway and art-world adventure.
in all, i took seven different train rides. on returning from barneveld (business meeting) i just had enough time to eat before it was time to leave for den haag, for the opening to an art exhibit at which mg is showing. lucky for me i live close to the nieuwmarkt metro, so it's no great agony to get to centraal. the train ride to den haag takes about an hour. in den haag (for the first time since 1975) i found my way on foot to the gallery, and i noticed that they have some really weird street names in den haag. for example, right around the corner from the parliament building there's a little street called "apendans" (monkey dance). and the gallery i was looking for was called "villa nuts".
the gallery was a sort of storefront that used to be a butchery many years ago. mg had one video-loop playing in a little cellar, on a screen above a sort of brick bathtub that used to be used for curing meat. his loop was pretty clever, it was sorta like a painting that moves a little. someone else upstairs was exhibiting an installation with some stools piled on each other, a poster lying on the floor, some other crap, and a tv set on a chair showing clips of the artist moving around in a room. someone else was showing a video of a pen leaking ink, which ended with a single title saying "dit had een boek kunnen zijn" (this could have been a book). and there were several paintings that looked like the person was trying to design wallpaper, and other paintings *of* those paintings.
at one point i called hg over to look at something beautiful. "stand here, look there. okay now back up a bit and look again". he really appreciated it too. but it was just a view of the skylight with the rain falling on it, backlit by a window above.
now i'm not one of those people who reserves the term "art" for things lofty. i don't say "that's not art" just because it's not good art. art can be bad, that's okay. it's not a refrigerator, a traffic jam, doing your taxes or brushing your teeth, then okay it must be art.
but unlike the academics who teach our artists these days, i still think artists are obliged to at least try and make us *feel* something. i'm still stuck on the idea that art is supposed to be *aesthetic* -- as opposed to anaesthetic.
so when i find myself looking at the rain on the skylight instead of the art on the walls, i figure there's something wrong with this picture.
how many times have we been to art exhibits where we were expected to read some blather, or know some secret about the creator, before we could appreciate the work? that turns it into an intellectual pursuit rather than an aesthetic one. then "the art world" begins to seem like just a bunch of self-indulgent brats who throw these parties just as an excuse to make each other feel necessary. a social club in other words. this becomes clear as soon as hg walks in, and gets into chats with various people he remembers from the scene.
and hey maybe that's all the "art world" was ever supposed to be: a private party for the initiates. but right now i want to make myself a big t-shirt that says "ART IS BULLSHIT" -- just as a work of art.
the good thing was they had cheap beer and wine there. hg had had just a little too much wine by the time he and i left around 23.00 ... after walking 30 minutes back to the station, he and i took the train as far as schiphol, got off and found the lockers, fetched mg's sweetheart's luggage, then took another train to ams centraal. hg was going to fetch the luggage alone, but i saw he was having a health episode so i went with him. once we got to centraal he took a taxi, but i walked home cuz i needed the exercise. so i got home about 01.00.
so it was a big day with not much work done, just an adventure.