Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yes, but is it art?

I love modern art. I really do. In matters of art and culture, I'm usually the one arguing in defense of the fringe, the envelope-pushers.

Then there are some times when I find myself in the camp of the neanderthal naysayers, the "my three-year-old could have done that" school of "that's art? don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."

So today I was stopped in my tracks when, during a visit to UNB, I saw this in a display case. First, we must allow that it is hideously "exhibited", if it can be said to be exhibited at all; but what you are viewing is indeed, from top, a pink torn folding stool behind a sculpture made of silverware; a wooden tongue depressor inside yellow and red disposable cups; next to two 35mm film canisters, several plastic funnels, another tongue depressor, and two empty picture frames.

A meditation on our throwaway society? I am being generous. Garbage as art? Has this not already been done a trillion times?

Okay, okay. A misguided attempt at social commentary at a small university. Then I saw the exhibit card.

I was gobsmacked enough to go to the office in the department and ask. Yes, it is an exhibit (actually, a pair of exhibits; the stool and utensils are Social Infrastucture; the disposable items and picture frames are "Inner City By-Law 121") on loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Huh. Maybe a program to send the work of ... young ... artists to Universities around North America?

Or a program to ... hide ... embarrasing exhibits in hallways in display cabinets in universities around North America?

Beats me.

It's ... there.

But is it art?



Blogger Mike said...

Y'know, you'd kinda think an artist like Pipolina who exhibits at MOMA would have a web site. Or at least would come up when you Googled for "Pipolina."

Was this exhibit case by any chance unlocked and available to the student body?

Mind you, I'm not saying it couldn't be perfectly legit. But I would expect that the Pipster would leave a trail of some sort. Artistic ego aside, you do want the folks with grant money to be able to find you.

8:01 a.m.  
Blogger Brent McKee said...

Considering some of the material that gets labeled as art - and sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds/euros this doesn't really surprise me. Blame the Dada movement, blame art publications that define art as anything that they say is art, blame the people who buy it thereby encouraging them. Don't blame the artists - they're only giving people (and museums) what they say they want.

1:18 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Mike, I have my (very strong) suspicions too. If it is a prank, or if the labeling is part of the "statement", the secretary in the Departmental office isn't in on the joke. But I can find no web trail for Pipolina either, which is way beyond suspicious.

Brent, I fear we've hit a point where people are afraid to call bullshit, even on very bad art, lest they be called uneducated, unappreciative boors...


3:05 p.m.  

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