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Yes, but is it art?

The time of year has arrived for the annual Turner Prize for modern art: an exhibition of dreary, talentless, post-modernist rubbish fawned over and slobbered upon by a carnival procession of dreary, talentless, post-modernist critics, groupies, poseurs and assorted hangers-on (lots of ‘dog-turd-in-a-bottle’ type installations, hailed as a ‘devastating social critique’).

I don’t care who won it or why but I could not possibly let this scandalously hypocritical bit of dreck pass by without comment:

Described by some critics as “a deeply weird artist”, Perry makes classically shaped pots, which now fetch between £8,000 and £15,000.

But his decorative motifs – transfers, photographs and squiggly drawings – are anything but traditional. Inspired mostly by what he calls his unhappy childhood in Essex after his father left home, many are scenes of child abuse or erotica or angry social comment on class or the consumer culture.

Obviously the ‘deeply weird’ Mr Perry is so angry about ‘consumer culture’ that he could not possibly let one of his home-made pots go for less than 8000 smackers!

15 comments to Yes, but is it art?

  • Yes, I know I have threatened to enter a Turner Prize work myself in the past but this Perry is not me, honest!

  • Perhaps one should offer a Turnip Prize for the best of things that are really beautiful and hold the competition at the same time. Surely someone will notice the inversion of titles.

  • Average Joe

    It’s not just visual arts. B.R. Myers showed that “talentless, post-modernist rubbish” plagues literature too:

    The “literary” writer need not be an intellectual one. Jeering at status-conscious consumers, bandying about words like “ontological” and “nominalism,” chanting Red River hokum as if it were from a lost book of the Old Testament: this is what passes for profundity in novels these days. Even the most obvious triteness is acceptable, provided it comes with a postmodern wink.


  • ed

    I’ve thought about entering for the prize. I’ve been playing around with carving and engraving so I thought I’d something ridiculous post-modern and perhaps carve up a styrofoam cup in some sort of baroque style. A juxtaposition of the disposable and the crassly ornate.

    But then I thought to myself, hell I must have more class than this right? Right?

    Oh well. So where do I mail this thing? 🙂

  • Guy Herbert

    Here’s the rub. You can’t enter; you must be selected. To be selected it helps to have gone to a fashionable art school, appeared in the right galleries, gone to the right parties, and done the sort of thing that the judges like for several years.

    In short, it is a self-publicising private club (prop. Sir Nicholas Serota). Nothing wrong with that, of course. Except that public money ends up buying a lot of its products, because committees are readily impressed by arbitrary “credentials”.

  • Verity

    It helps to be self-consciously weird. Seen a photo of Perry? (Certainly not our Perry!) Obviously, he has devoted more thought to his flounces and frilly ankle socks than his “work” – if that is not too strong a term. Compare him with the tasteful Eddie Izzard – or the glamourous and flamboyant Ru-Paul. Loser.

  • Charles

    I keep reading about this correlation between child abuse and anti consumerism. I don’t yet fully understand the dynamics underlying this. I can’t see distraught child locked in a closet lamenting the commercial structure of society. “Dam you evil corporations!” But I keep reading about it. There are even people walking around the streets carrying signs about it.

    Further more, I don’t understand the correlation between erotica and anti consumerism. I have yet to scream during orgasim, “Dam you evil coporations!” I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But apparently it is quite common for some people to say things like that.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Charles wrote:

    Further more, I don’t understand the correlation between erotica and anti consumerism. I have yet to scream during orgasim, “Dam you evil coporations!” I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

    You obviously need to try some kinkier sex. 🙂

    {Ted ducks}

  • Rob Read

    Wow Ted, Ducks are kinky!

  • R. C. Dean

    I keep reading about this correlation between child abuse and anti consumerism.

    Its just fashion, really. It is fashionable to be against consumerism (whatever that is), and it is fashionable to be a victim. Of course, no one is more victimized than a victim of child abuse, so claiming to be such a victim is the very height of fashion!

    I don’t think there is anything more to it than that. You can’t underestimate the shallowness of many of these bohemian types .

  • There is a certain symettry between what now passes for good art (one cannot say “great” even in irony) and the bloody mess we’ve made of so many aspects of modern life.

    It’s tempting, I admit, to lay the blame for Perry and his ankle socks on the destructivism of 20th century art (it still goes on, BTW – see Hockney’s 60 Minutes broadcast on CBS earlier this year, in which he excused the weakness of today’s draughtsmen. See http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/16/60minutes/main536814.shtml).

    Similarly, it’s tempting to ask what a budding artist is supposed to do, after all? Find a master like Ingres to teach him? Well, no when there’s only the polytechnic and the welding mask and the usual marxist-feminist, Guardian reading, failed artist-cum-tutors. It’s tempting, too, to point out that none of this matters anyway because the truly degraded avant garde – sole arbiter of aesthetic value – will shower him with praise, fame and wealth regardless. Let him do his worst. The more shock and outrage, the more pathology the more publicity and cash.

    But tempting though it is to dwell upon this lament, there is a point at which it all ceases to be enough. One has to bite the bullet and say, well yes, it’s us. It’s in our spirit, in the way we live that beauty and vision, subtlety, finesse and daughtsmanship – that most of all – have gone from us and cannot be got back. Click on http://www.artrenewal.org/ and weep.

    Don’t blame Perry, pathetic though he is. Don’t blame Serota. Blame ourselves that we live so well but so poorly.

    The last wave of great art in the late 19th century is, I admit, a long march or three from Turner Prize-winning, fashionably boho Perry with the ankle socks. But notwithstanding the destructivism of

  • LB

    A disappointing lack of feces this year. Well, maybe next.

  • A_t

    Does anyone know if this is an international phenomenon, or a peculiarly British one? Seems to me like our entire culture’s been reshaping away from any artisanal ideas of skill, talent & actually producing something since Victorian times, & recently has moved towards an emphasis on “being” someone, the scope of one’s personal ambitions & being the middle man. The decline of skilled draughtsmen correlates with the decline of skilled engineers etc; my predominant impression of the UK, & the things which get emphasised the most, is a nation of bankers, customer service reps, marketing managers, or sales staff.

    With such a non-emphasis on actual production, is it any surprise that our art usually reflects this attitude? That faced with relatively meaningless jobs, artists end up making “eating it’s own tail” comments on art or the media?

    Even in pop stars, the sheer *will* to be a popstar is seen as somehow equally laudible as talent. “Well done, you plucky fellow… you’ve got no soul, but your ambition will take you far.” Can’t be arsed with that; not interested. I understand that sales reps, wheeler-dealers etc; people who’ll do whatever’s necessary to make the sale are necessary cogs in the grand machine that is the market, but to make them the most-rewarded people in the country (& hence in a consumerist age, the people who many will aspire to be) is asking for a sick culture if you ask me.

    If that’s inherent the way of the market, then we’d better get used to vacant, superficial advertising-related art, ‘cos it’s here to stay.

    It’s clear that in this particular case, as with most Turner prize awards recently, the artist is being awarded the prize for what he *is* as much as what he’s produced.

    Having said all that, I by no means believe that one must be a consumate artisan to produce great art; I’ve seen enormously skilled works that have moved me not one jot, & incredibly simple pieces which have made me laugh or feel sadness.

    Oh, & on that note, David Shrigley should’ve got it 🙂

  • Alice Bachini

    I like the Turner prize. I like modern art. Some other people like Christian rock music and even make lots of money out of it, despite that Christian rock music is horrible. I suppose disparaging what one happens not to enjoy is fun.

  • Alex

    has anyone really concerned themselves with the issue that was dealt? Can’t art raise an awareness for child abuse? Whether he was sexually abused himself, or likes to abuse children, not much of my concern, but i see it as a comment on an issue, one we can all pay more attention to. I gave my carreer to being a youth worker, helping at-risk youth, and disadvantaged children. And currently, i am a post-post modern artist in the toronto scene, and my work deals with raising awareness, and commenting on issues that deal with child abuse. There is nothing wrong with pottery drawing of child abuse…or even elephant dung.
    Try not to discard art, but do what it is actually created for and think about it.