Every year I read the write-ups on the Turner Prize, partially for the sake of keeping an eye on what’s going on the the world of Modern Art (Ecclectic, Provoking, Weird and Often Disturbing Art might be a more accurate description) and partially for a good laugh at what our society has made of itself. This year I actually had a different reaction than usual, as the Weatherbeaten Shed was really a pretty cool idea and did not involve bodily fluids (other than, perhaps, sweat). Finding a shed in Switzerland (complete with paddle), rebuilding it as a boat and then reconstructing it as a shed is just plain cool, in a ten year-old boy kind of way. I do wonder how much he paid in shipping and what the reaction of the original owner of the shed was upon coming out of his house and finding his shed (and paddle) had transformed into a boat.
Art is one of those categories whose existence and inclusiveness I rarely criticise and, like Kirsten, pretty much think that it (like education) justifies its own existence. That said, I have been perplexed at the Turner Prize’s blinking lights (think someone may have been duped there) and surprised at the conventional choice of Grayson Perry in 2003.
As much as I migth want to laugh at the folks who thought lights on a timer (five seconds on, five off) were thought provoking, creative and deeply moving, I have to stop myself. You see, here in Canada, we gave a Governor General’s Award to a fellow who lay in a shallow grave with a vial of his own blood secretted in a bodily cavity. Thought-provoking? I suppose. Apealing? Not. I think it relies primarily on the visceral reaction of viewers, which still makes it good art (in a weird sort of way), just not particularly tasteful.
Years ago there was a fooferra around here about an exhibit of clothing constructed from meat. The debate over whether it was art was somewhat subsumed in the, “what about hot weather and flies?” question. It would seem that art involving flesh and bodily extrusions is an easy way to have shocking impact and get noticed. The only catch is getting your work into permanent collections……
Anyway, here’s hoping the guy with the shedboat goes on to other, equally intriguing, pursuits. I wonder if there’s a grain silo somwhere in Saskatchewan that always wanted to be a plane?