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There are certain sectors of the art world that crave a useful social role for art. Others see art as an activity making important contributions to intellectual discourse. Many look to art for pleasure. And then there are those who appreciate all of this seriousness, but crave the trappings of the entertainment industry too – fame, power, money, glamour, hierarchies, cultural parochialism. One year the art world is interested in this, the next year it’s interested in that. It wants to party, it wants to be scholarly. Markets go up, markets go down. At the same time as the Serpentine Gallery is showing Gustav Metzger, people are posing for photographs licking a giant chocolate facsimile of a Jeff Koons sculpture and throwing themselves on giant mounds of peanuts at the gala opening of PERFORMA 09. America elects a mildly progressive president and suddenly people scream ‘socialism’ as if the year is 1954 and Senator McCarthy is on the warpath. Everything changes and nothing changes.
Dan Fox in Frieze, January-February 2010. Full article here.
The new gallery at the National College of Art and Design opens with a superb show by Phil Collins: see here for more info about the inaugural season.
Visiting a few weekends ago I was told (quite apologetically) at the front desk, ‘Well there’s no art here as such. Just some videos.’
So it seems the mediation programme has a way to go yet: it is really a shame that staff who have worked in the institution for twenty or thirty years, or more, are so uninformed as to the kind of cultural products it sends out into the world. And also instructive that the role of gallery ‘front desking’ is perhaps something that should not be underestimated in terms of the specific training that is required (vocabulary; interest; the ability to ‘put a face on yerself’) .
I’ve justed checked in to the Holiday Inn in Portland, Maine. For the next few days I will be attending a utopian studies conference here.
On the freeway from the airport, a sign read Welcome to Maine: the way life should be.
It was dark outside so there wasn’t much to see other than the neon signs of various franchises. I watched the DVD that was playing on the bus: it was set in the seventies (the heavy yellow colouring was a giveaway)and Mark Wahlberg played a part time barman from Philly who ended up playing in the NFL. He even scored a touchdown at the end. It felt different to watch this kind of film in the states, it made more sense somehow.
I’ve seen city buses covered in the legend Believe in Something Better (purple and spearmint; apparently not politically affiliated).
Election day is Tuesday. It’s an interesting time.
I’m sooo behind the curve on this one (clip is over on Coolhunting). But it’s still a great video about artist Mika Rottenberg.