Thursday, July 26, 2012

The shitty shadow play

A friend whom I have never met, but only through the inernet, Ian Milliss wrote this article for the 250th anniversary issue of Art Monthly. Our digital dialogue has allowed me to develop respect and some sort of affection for his views and opinions. This article made me think about stuff, and I was at first going to reply with a witty internet sized one liner, but the more I thought the more words and ideas were vomited forth. So I guess you should read his article first, to get some context. Or not.

The shitty shadow play of a shitty world, so a pal of mine in Canberra called the art scene and the local artists. This is caused by the global fordism of art, as Ian so clearly points out. The idea that Disney will buy out the museyrooms is a dystopian fantasy that sadly can become true, if we do not keep on guard. (One only has to look over the history of the cinema, and the banal state of publishing in the Anglosphere, to see the danger will are facing.) Indeed David Walsh refers to MONA as a subversive adult Disneyland, and much as I admire and appreciate the gallery one has to ask the question, how subversive a can a Disneyland, adult or otherwise, become. Is the goal of art to titillate and 'shock' with walls of vaginas, and smears of poo? Or is the goal of art to, in simplistic terms, try to make us better people, to try to make us see the world though the eyes of pure childhood playfulness anew? We have only a tenuous grasp on life, and we should not settle on facile blandness.

The mass production of art combined with, not a lack of talent, but rather a lack of ideology. Indeed ideology seems to be a dirty word these days, but to me it is nothing more than an attempt to bring things together, and attempt to make sense of the contradictions of internal world versus external world. A gathering together of threads, going way way back to the PIE *weid- meaning to see.

Too many people, schooled as they are in the vapid world of witty one liners and the constant fear of any authentic activity take ideology to mean little more than impractical thinking about things. Not really understanding that there is more to life than the constant one sided pragmatic jumping from one crisis to the next with not understanding as to how all things are interconnected and come together. Art is seen as apart from politics, apart from our interpersonal relationships, apart from the choices we make as consumer. Of course like all things human ideology can become perverted, and can become a hindrance to thinking and activity, but this is why the critical activity must also be turned inward, one must constantly question oneself. So when new experiences, new ways of seeing arise they must be integrated into one's ideology.

We can see this negative understanding of ideology clearly in recent critiques of the green party, who are constantly assailed for having principles and a policy they are not willing to throw overboard at the first opportunity. This can be summed up with a quote from Michael Danby, the federal member for Melbourne Ports, reported in the cesspit of pretend pragmatism vexnews

'The Greens have discredited themselves with many inner-city voters I talk with every day by voting with the Liberals on asylum seekers. Frankly I’ve been struck by the magnitude of the criticism I hear of their self-indulgent and viciously ideological position on asylum seekers, that is costing lives.'

While I do not like to see the Greens on the side of the LNP, it is wrong and a misunderstanding to say the Green Party voted with the liberals. They voted as they saw fit, in a way that they felt was true to their positions and policies. On the other hand the liberals in a choreographed display of populist vengeance (who can forget the staged spectacle of Joe Hockey and his histrionic welling up at the idea of  sending unaccompanied children to Malaysia, while at the same time cynically supporting the idea of turning back boats) voted in a way that would bring maximum disruption to the government, regardless of any ideology the LNP may have.

But I digress, for it is late and I am tired and a bit tipsy.

Art should be part of this trying to make sense of the world, and while I do not disagree with the idea that the world is in many ways unknowable and in constant flux,  one has to also admit that the world is repeatable and in many ways can be known. This can be seen in the simple act of cooking dinner, I apply heat the water boils, I apply a knife to the carrot and it cuts, I add yeast to flour and the dough rises.

One day art in the future will dissolve, and this process is beginning,. This can be readily seen with our street art, as well as the space created by the internet. When this day comes art will be simply a part of everyday life, and there will no longer be a need for the priestly caste of critics to mediate and tell us what is pure and what is impure. Conversation will become inclusive. The conversation will no longer be the purposeful obfuscation using silver dollar words. The conversation will no longer spew forth from one sided two faced confusers with a weak grasp of the ideas of thinkers such as Derrida. The weakness and shallowness of these types of posers support their ideas with a firm grasp on the language and tropes of the arts bureaucracy and ways to job the system. Everyone will be an artist precisely because there will be no artists in a festive echo of Lenin's idea that one day the lowest clerk will be able to run the affairs of the state. Art and humanity will be free and human activity will be seen for what it can be, a type of play, a thing of joy, and not a hammer with which to batter the other in vain attempts to gain control and dominance. Art will be enjoyed for it's 'spiritual value', not it's exchange value. Art will become integrated into life, and indeed ones life itself will become art. To me this should be the aspiration of all artists. 

With usura hath no man a house of good stone
each block cut smooth and well fitting that design might cover their face,
with usura
hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall

Gallifrey Falls!

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