Monday, 8 November 2010

The Art of the Impossible


I was looking at the shortlisted artists for the 2010 Turner Prize the other day. Of the four listed, one is actually a painter, although of (yawn) celebrity culture subjects, one an artist who uses her own voice in installations, another a cooperative project working with found objects, and there is also a woman whose work features subjects like a pile of broken wardrobes. Rather like a nasty accident in the Ikea warehouse. But anyway.

Of course this is largely the sort of stuff that that reliable representative of Middle England thinking, the Daily Mail reader, likes to snort at in disgust on the basis that conceptual art, or performance art, or art installations, are all a load of crap, and completely meaningless.

Hmm. Funny that. Because the same sort of Middle Englander, the middle of the road, middle class Tory voter such as we have in shed loads in Broken Barnet, is perfectly happy to accept without question the equivalent meaningless conceptual work of art dressed up as a political model, as presented by their local Conservative council at the last election, and to pay through the nose to share in ownership of a piece of crap which doesn't exist.

I'm talking about Futureshape, of course. Futureshape, or One Barnet, as they want us to call it, in the hope that we will forget the negative press, is a concept as empty and meaningless as anything you may dislike about modern art.

If you look askance at some of the installations in Tate Modern, or snigger at John Cage's 'Four minutes thirty three seconds' of silence, or get cross about Carl Andre's bricks, ask yourself what you were doing voting for a council administration intent on running this borough on the basis of an idea which existed in name only. Of course if you did vote for that, you probably aren't reading this, but there you go.

Futureshape, the easyCouncil concept, is of course a piece of conceptual art - and arguably also an example of installation and performance art. You can't understand it, now you've bought it and taken home to hang above the fireplace because there is nothing to understand. It doesn't exist. It isn't a work in progress, because there is nowhere for it to go.

As we know, the external auditors and sometime art critics Grant Thornton have reviewed the Future Shape plans and dared to mention that - oh dear - two years down the line, there are still basic questions to be asked about the real benefits of the scheme, the cost, the timescale, and worryingly, the 'high level risk profile'. They have had to tell Barnet to stop messing aorund and come up with a business plan, as astonishingly, no such thing has yet been created. Money has been thrown at these alleged cost saving plans but as yet savings have only been theoretically 'identified' and do not exist.

Why is it that ordinary people, who are so resistant to the art of the avant garde, and dismiss such pretentious rubbish out of hand have fallen for the empty promise of this Tory administration's worthless economic policy? Is it because they are too lazy to inform themselves about political matters and simply vote without thinking?

If you've ever had to work in a polling station on an election day, you cannot help but notice the number of people who stand for ages in the booths with their slip wondering who to vote for. They probably haven't given it much thought until that moment. It is a very depressing thought, that so many voters can't be bothered to use their vote in an informed way.

Maybe it is because unlike in matters of art, where someone will think, in time honoured fashion, I don't know anything about art but I know what I like, and is not intimidated into abandoning their love of pictures of kittens in baskets and vases of flowers, when it come to politics they feel out of their depths, intellectually bullied by people claiming they know best, and telling them how to think and how to vote.

Well: if you know how to make money out of a shark in a tank or an unmade bed, why not do it? It's the ultimate expression of free enterprise, and successful modern art is as much of a profit making commodity as anything else. It may annoy the Daily Mail, if you are lucky, but it doesn't have any impact on people's ordinary lives.

If only we could say the same for Future Shape.

9 comments:

ainelivia said...

Hate to mention this, but after reading your post, I remembered something I glimpsed on the TV as I left the sitting room when my cat called my attention - loudly - that his bowl was empty. And that was on the BBC Politics Show, ( about two weeks back) Michael Gove enunciating quite clearly "that Barnet Council (and others I've forgotten) were the ones with the courage and this was the way to go......"

So as long as the herd, sorry I meant our local Tory Councillors, think that Central Office is backing them up, I doubt that they really care about you and me, the local taxpayer funding their mad schemes and improved salaries, they are being smiled upon from Westminister and like good sheep they will follow their shepherd.....

vickim57 said...

Inspired post, fantastic picture. Can I come to your birthday party?

Mrs Angry said...

Mrs Angry does not approve of parties, either for birthdays, (which she ignores ever since an unfortunate experience with a cake, a French chef, and an unfortunate mistranslation) or political ones, especially ones currently in shameful coalition.

Mrs Angry said...

Ainelivia: Michael Gove ... don't get me started. I have to walk out of the room if I see him on tv or hear him on the radio. All I can remember of election night was praying the Tories would lose especially so we wouldn't have to spend the next four years hearing his ghastly voice and objectionable opinions. Perhaps I will name a frog after him and see what happens.

Moaneybat said...

Have to nominate you for a Pulitzer. Given the Conservative Government and their LiDem valets, social and economic policy, which appears to endorse Barnet's Future Shape along with Hammersmith and Fulham, it's no surprise to see Tory Westminster doing an Edvard Munch over some of their ideas. Barnet's Tory strongholds may find their piece of art an expensive con in the long run.

ainelivia said...

Hi Mrs A, naming a frog after Michael Gove for a moment sounded funny and a great idea; but perhaps we should consider the future life of the frog? Call it Peaches, Trixi-Belle? Or better still call it Geldof (Bob)better prospects for moral upstanding behaviour I think. (-;

Mrs Angry said...

Hmmm, well I cannot claim to be an expert on the subject. When we first dug the pond I was very keen to encourage frogs, and once found myself in Waitrose wondering if I was the only woman there looking for organic spinach to cook for her tadpoles, but since then I have wised up. You are assuming, Ainelivia, that frogs are capable of morally upstanding behaviour, whereas my observations have led me to conclude that they are natural born Tories: lazy,selfish, repellant to the touch,and prone to eating their own babies. I am not suggesting that Michael Gove has eaten any of his own frogspawn, but I'll bet he spends far too long in the bath.

ainelivia said...

Lol Mrs A. perhaps the NHS should issue an immediate warning to any kind and caring human being thinking of KISSING FROGS, and the possible consequences of; on the other hand it might be that if one kisses those we believe shapeshifted from the amphibian, they might possibly be returned to their original form. Mind you am not offering my services for the kissing of BC or MG........ i have some standards...

Mrs Angry said...

oh dear, Ainelivia, do you know somehow I don't think there is a very long queue of candidates wanting to kiss either of these, do you?