Shibboleth

Among other things, S and I spent some of his birthday staring at a distressingly large crack in a concrete floor.

Oh, hey, it was free; and what is the point of being a Londoner if you don’t go and stare at any given piece of free art-becoming-street-theatre:

Photo taken by Simone Sartori

(Selection of further photos by the good denizens of flickr).

The crack itself is considerably more interesting than the exhibition notes the Tate Modern provided would suggest. And the notes themselves, oy vey. For example, in the first link above, they say: ‘Salcedo dramatically shifts our perception of the Turbine Hall’s architecture, subtly subverting its claims to monumentality and grandeur.’

We say, subverting its what? It’s the turbine hall of a decomissioned power station. Grandeur? Since bloody when? It is big because it needed to be big to fit the colossally big turbines in. It’s functional. It’s drafty. I like it very much, as a space, and always make a point of seeing what piece of almighty weirdness they’ve dumped in it this time. But it is only monumental and grand in that someone has decided it needs to be in order to make their [amazingly trite - Ed] point about Salcedo’s art.

The problem with deep, serious, meaningful, and politically right on art-works about racism and colonialism and modernity is, once you’ve dug up the floor of the Tate Modern to build them, they will be looked at by people. And people will bring their kids, and the kids will drop their toy cars in it, and older kids will play jumping games across it, and other people will exercise their right to take subversive [Hah!] photos of their friends larking about with it. Art lovers will fall into it. Leaves will blow into it. Scraps of rubbish will blow into it. We even found a bic razor in it. And these people are not thinking deep serious thoughts about cultural divisiveness and the tragic legacies of colonialism. They are far too busy being interested in the bic razor. Or discussing concrete pouring techniques. Or seeing how far they can reach into its depths. You can say you are encouraging us to ‘confront uncomfortable truths about our history and about ourselves with absolute candidness, and without self-deception.’ You can print it on leaflets and hand them to each and every person who enters the gallery. But, thinking of doom and despair and our genetic culpability in the horrors of racism is no where near as interesting as lying on your stomach and wondering how the chain-link fence got in there.

Build art and they will come. And they will own it. And that is how art works.

This entry was posted in But is it Art?, NaBloPoMo 2007. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Shibboleth

  1. Aphra Behn says:

    I always mistrust art works which require that much writing. Why can’t the artist give us the freedom to react to it spontaneously? She appears to want to produce a piece with a narrative message without being so uncool as to actually do some narrative art. Oh no. How uncool would that be? If you do non-narrative art, then don’t write a bloody narrative.

    It sounds and looks to be a very cool installation. I like the photies on flickr.

    Aphra.

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