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Re: <nettime> some good news from merry old England
roya.jakoby on Thu, 6 Nov 2003 16:04:12 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> some good news from merry old England

Amusing populism is the key to the heart of the merry ol' Brits. You have to
amuse them, and this annual debate about the Turner Prize is exactly
packaged like that : As a very amusing annual occurrence. The Chapman's
recent soul coughing is in that respect just part of the show, never mind
that their arguments have grounds.

Saatchi, as well as the Tate have started their hugely populist (and
amusing) art campaign a few years ago. Don't know if I'm correct here, but I
think, the 'Sensation' show marked the start of that campaign. The
mainstream never really cared about the Turner-Prize, but over those few
years, it developed into some kind of equivalent of an art Oscar (just the
same as the Booker prize is now the literature Oscar). TV coverage, reports,
special newspaper supplements, sex (most important), free CDs, interviews,
artists as celebrities, some more or less controversial arguments, gossip,
scandals, you name it, it's all there. In true spectacle style. No, you
can't escape it. Saatchi (an ad agency nonetheless) and Tate (an ol'
colonial sugar enterprise turn museum empire) rule the market. I look at it
all with a mix of fascination and frustrated suspicion and I still go to the
Tate to look at [Mark] Rothko and to spend my money on coffees and books. I
assume this is exactly where those art market strategies want me to be. You
amuse me and I give you a little bit of my money, and I don't like it, but I
don't know what to do without it either, because before the spectacle there
was only money counting, boring art, chambers of horror, boredom and stiff
squareness in the public art realm, and we don't want any of that back, do
we? In this respect, Tate and Saatchi might have done us some good, too..

from the fog, /roya.

On 4/11/03 12:16 pm, "Brian Holmes" <brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr> wrote:

> Shock art turns on the Tate
> 'I'd rather go to Alton Towers than Tate Modern,' says rebel artist Chapman
> David Smith, arts and media correspondent
> Sunday November 2, 2003
> The Observer
> They have turned shock and awe into an art form and set the agenda for the
> tumult over the Turner Prize. Now the Chapman brothers have broken another
> taboo by biting the hand that feeds them.
> Jake Chapman, half of the pair dubbed 'the Brothers Grim', has unleashed
> an excoriating attack on the Tate Modern and Saatchi galleries, accusing
> them of threatening the future of art by bowing to the lowest common
> denominator.
> He called the Tate a 'monument to absolute cultural saturation' and said
> he would rather take a ride at Alton Towers than look at some of its
> contents. Charles Saatchi's gallery was 'simply an expression of one man's
> ownership'.
> Chapman attacked his fellow 'Young British Artists', saying they were part
> of a growing cult of celebrity, and claimed some now use art as 'a symptom
> of their ego'.
> Although for centuries the world's greatest artists were forced to flatter
> their patrons to scrape a living, the Chapmans clearly feel no obligation
> to be polite about Saatchi, whose =A3500,000 purchase of their
> installation Hell rescued them from impoverished obscurity.
> The leading collector paid a further =A31 million for their Chapman Family
> Collection of pseudo-ethnic wooden carvings and is now boosting their
> status among Brit Art's biggest stars with a major retrospective at his
> gallery on London's South Bank.
> Jake Chapman was even more scathing about Tate Modern, despite the
> brothers' attempt to win the Tate's flagship competition, the =A320,000
> Turner Prize, launched last week at its sister gallery, Tate Britain.
> Among the brothers' Turner exhibits a sculpture entitled Death, depicting
> two blow-up dolls in a graphic sex act, the subject of furious debate
> since it was revealed by The Observer last week.
> Sir Nicholas Serota, the Tate director and chairman of the Turner judges,
> seems unshockable when viewing art, but he may find it harder to dismiss
> Chapman's disdain for Tate Modern, housed in the former Bankside power
> station
> Chapman said: 'You can see things at both the Saatchi and Tate Modern
> which are bending, swerving towards a kind of lowest common denominator
> which could have a very negative effect on the production of art itself.'
> They were 'symptomatic of an increased sensitivity to a wider public
> audience. It deskills the potential of serious, discursive art.
> 'Tate Modern is a monument to absolute cultural saturation. It's brazen
> about parasitically adopting this old turbine factory so even from the
> outside it's demonstrating the shift from industrialisation to this kind
> of leisure time culture.
> 'The architecture has been produced so that you get this huge concussive
> effect as you walk down the ramp. You feel very small in the face of the
> magnitude of this cathedral. It sends messages for miles: this is
> important, this is a sacred place, everything in here is sacred. Things
> that are sacred aren't questioned, and that's the problem.'
> He added: 'The idea of just ramming people up escalators to see art in
> this kind of pacified way makes looking at art reducible to looking and
> not thinking. I'd rather go to Alton Towers and go on a theme park [ride]
> than go and look at some [Mark] Rothko paintings.
> Chapman, interviewed for Channel 4's The Art Show, said the effect of some
> works - such as Damien Hirst's shark, Chris Ofili's elephant-dung Virgin
> and Marcus Harvey's Myra Hindley portrait - was blunted by the way they
> were displayed in the Saatchi.
> 'Things there are trying to soften the blow for people who may be
> unfamiliar with the notion that a work of art shouldn't necessarily be
> pleasurable. So you get things like gold frames. You get things that are
> trying to smooth the edges between the edge of the work and the walls.'
> 'Within that slightly domesticated, slightly ornamental environment the
> work starts to dissipate. You can't work out the difference between the
> edge of one painting, one sculpture and the kind of ornamentation that
> creeps up the wall.
> 'It's just simply an expression of one man's ownership. The best strategy
> would be to put every single piece of art that Charles Saatchi owns in, so
> you don't get this sense that you are supposed to try and see one thing
> separate from another. I think it should be completely like a junk shop.'
> Jake, at 36 four years younger than his brother Dinos, also attacked the
> celebrity culture of Brit Art, dominated by the likes of Hirst and Tracey
> Emin, whose infamous unmade bed is in the Saatchi Gallery.
> 'The celebrity status has become more interesting than the work itself, so
> the work becomes a trace element of the trajectory of famous people,' he
> said.
> 'A lot of those artists believe that's the correct way in which the work
> should be analysed: them first, then the work. They treat the work as a
> symptom of their ego.'
> The Saatchi Gallery declined to comment. A Tate spokesman said: 'Jake is
> entitled to his view. The Turner Prize nominees are judged on their work
> rather than any comments made to the media.'
> The interview is to be shown on 'The Art Show' on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on
> 14 November.
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