May 5 art

Talking to artists at their own exhibition is tricky. I try to engage then with their work sometimes though I mostly find I am interested in things they are not interested in. That is, of course, when I am interested in anything at all. At private views the conversation turns around things other than art. The artist probably has two or three little things to say about his work, usually it poses questions about our status as a viewer or it poses questions about what we mean by art and he soon gets sick of trotting this out (don’t blame him) and us of hearing it. Often there is an elephant in the room, which is the price. What! £8,500 for an old boot with some paint dripped onto it and a frame round it called Traces of Life? £7650 for framed canvas with a rip in it and black and white photo of a bloke with a camera looking out of the picture stuck on called voyeur? Are these figures plucked out ofthe air? Yes. Because it only takes one individual to buy one of these things. One single act of lunacy can happen in a London where a lot of people have a lot of money.

What we have learnt, surely, is that discourse can be produced form anything? It doesn’t need to be designated as art and it doesn’t need a price tag. Thought is still, just about, free. My suspicion is that art school kids tend to be kids who were better with images than with words. So they go to art school only to get fed lots of fancy theoreticians whom they, of course, will never read in a hundred years. Baudrillard, Cixous, Walter|Benjamin. And then they feel they have to reference this to give their work legitimacy. We have given contemporary art great legitimacy, so much more than contemporary classical music which it is still cool to have no appreciation of. I suspect it is because rich people can own contemporary art whereas music cannot be hoarded by a fetishising individual in the same way.

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