Hello you beautiful people and welcome to yet another article from yours truly. I hope you’re all well, and yes you should definitely buy those shoes!
It is an age-old question, and one that will continue to be asked, and argued, for lifetimes to come. That question is, “What is constituted as art?”
A recent trip to Liverpool had me pondering that very question!
A trip to ‘The Tate Modern’ was on the cards, written in black and white on our itinerary of things to do whilst in ‘The City Of Culture!’ Now this was a place I had obviously read about and heard of, however it wasn’t a place that I had plotted within my 1000 things to do before I died, in fact above which placed ‘Morris dancing in Sherwood Forrest’ and ‘Recreating The Battle Of The Somme at the local swimming baths’. My opinion of Tate Modern before entering was that inside it’s walls held pieces of work by ‘Artists’ who in reality, couldn’t be arsed to create Art! That they were paid stupid amounts of money for things the average Joe (You & Me) would throw in the bin… I was not disappointed! It would seem that having a shit in the corner and popping a little flag in it would be happily accepted into Tate’s collection!
As I walked around the rooms I was clearly out of my comfort zone as people discussed a pile of logs arranged in a circle with passion, stood and stared at a mans urinal in a display case and generally ponced around as art types usually do! I stopped for a moment to look at three basketballs suspended in a fish tank. This piece was by an artist called Jeff Koons and was called ‘Equilibrium’ and basically consisted of three orange basketballs in a tank full of water at varying heights and widths. Evidently I had been staring at the tank a little too intently, as if from nowhere a woman appeared behind me and asked, “What do you see?”
I gave an honest answer, which went down like the Titanic. I said that I saw three basketballs in a tank of water! Which I did! Clearly this was the incorrect answer! The next thing the woman is stood in front of me, arms folded, and looking at me like I’d just killed her Mother and shat on her new carpet! The rest of my group had caught up with me now and the woman saw this as an opportunity to ask the same question with more enthusiasm to the rest of us! The girls asked if it represented ‘traveling through life’ as the balls seemed to be arranged in a way that made it them seem like it was flying up and then dropping! The woman then did the worse thing she could have done and said that the arrangement of the balls was actually not as the artist had intended them to be, and that in fact they were meant to be equally spaced and at the same height in the middle of the tank. So this bloody Jeff Koons hadn’t even done a proper job. He had created art that as I said before he couldn’t be arsed to do and then couldn’t even be arsed to do what he set out to do!
As the rest of them tried to find the hidden meaning behind the flawed water balls, I snuck away to look at some more ‘modern art’. I saw a piece by Armand Fernandez called ‘Condition Of Woman’ which was meant to raise questions about value, bring private life into the public domain and examine the image of woman constructed by society! Very poignant stuff I’m sure you’ll agree! However the actual work was just a load of shit collected from a bathroom cabinet and shoved in a Perspex case. It contained:-
A Hand Mirror
Some Cotton Wool
A Single Stocking
And the thing that really brings this art piece to life… A tampon!
Another example of ‘Modern Art’ just being a case of not being arsed! This guy has just emptied his cupboard and took it round to Tate rather than throwing it in the fucking bin where it belongs!!!
Having enough of room number one we drifted into room number two which for a little while I started to see exhibits that I sort of enjoyed for probably the wrong reasons. Such as ‘Ska’s Not Dead’ by Jim Lamble, which was basically a DJ deck, covered in pink and spinning, which I could explain, but from it hung a black glove with safety pins in it?! Also other highlights included the Potato producing electricity and a video of two guys sat in bowler hats getting pissed… now that is art! We even had an attempt at creating some modern art of our own. One of us simply took off a shoe and left it in a corner… it wasn’t long before people were gathering around it trying to guess it’s mystical significance! Which sort of backs up my argument of modern art being bullshit! If not I’m sure the next couple of displays will 100% confirm it!
A collection of photographs of milk bottle on doorsteps… An Artist or a bored Milkman?
And the ultimate waste of time, which made me want to throw myself out of a window in sheer frustration! It was this absolute beauty by a guy called Michael Craig-Martin.
An Oak Tree… This is what the plaque says:-
‘While this appears to be a glass of water on a shelf, the artist states that it is in fact an oak tree.’
NO IT FUCKING ISN’T AN OAK TREE… IT’S A GLASS OF WATER ON A FUCKING SHELF!!! Go on look at the picture… It’s a glass of water on a shelf!
The final room we went into was a little better, an interactive experience of a disco dance floor encouraged people to put on headphones and have a dance, which I took them up on the kind offer and danced to the Bee-Gees in pure 70’s disco euphoria!
It sounds like I have been really negative about everything in Tate and to be fair on a hole it is full of shite, however in between the rubbish that’s in there are some absolute gems that even I had fun trying to decipher and I think it is trying to find these gems that makes art fun!
So back to my original question ‘What is constituted as art?’
I haven’t a fucking clue!
Personally I think Art is anything that leaves an effect on you, positive or negative, and gets you talking and passionate about a subject… and the Tate Modern in Liverpool has certainly fulfilled that mission statement!