Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vested Interests


Just a very short time ago, it seemed we were at the end of something and the beginning of …well no one quite knew but post crash everything was definitely going to change wasn't it? With the most enormous of financial bubbles burst and the now flaccid little pieces of the balloon stuck to the sides of our mouths we all stood in awe of the devastation and vowed that everything would be different. We shook our heads at our collective foolishness and greed and pondered our debts and how we might possibly repay them.

But the vested interests are not so easily deterred. Having been bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of billions the city after the briefest of periods of contrition is back to paying out big bonuses. Never mind that a generation has effectively been robbed of its pensions, if the new RBS chairman can get the share price up to 70P then the government can cash in and sell its shares in the bank at a profit and supposedly wipe out some of the enormous public debt that threatens to dog us for the next 50 years. In other words the mechanism that broke the system is being restarted with some vain hope that it can now fix the very problem it caused.

Over in the art world it’s much the same as Tate Britain opens Classified an exhibition featuring the work of some very familiar names: Damien Hirst, the Chapman Brothers, Martin Creed, Tacita Dean etc. Curator Andrew Wilson says of the work, "I sincerely believe that this art is amongst the best work that has been made in the last 15 years or so." Of course Tate has invested heavily in these artists in so many ways and it was highly unlikely that they would leave the pieces mouldering in the Bricklayers Arms depot but have they no new tricks to play, nothing else up their sleeves but the same old fandango? It would seem not, “who knows” they no doubt muse privately perhaps the exhibition will remind us all just how good these artist are and help get the art market bus back on the road as well and the champers will flow again and the bankers and artists can once again mingle at the Frieze art fair tent whilst the poor sucker public pick up the tab.

Update 2012: Well whilst three years on the UK economy continues to be in recession the Art Market after a brief dip has bounced back. Despite the populace loosing their collective shirt the super rich go from strength to strength and these are of course the people who can afford art.  

6 comments:

Steven Ball said...

a return of the "icons of idiocy"?
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article6275738.ece

Philip Sanderson said...

Well given the lead in times Classified may well have been on the cards for sometime but it certainly looks like a defiant attempt to shore up the value of these artists - artists who have all been heavily exposed/promoted at the Tate through the Turner prize, one off exhibitions etc etc... what we really needed now was
de-classified.

Steven Ball said...

yes, post-crunch recession aesthetics would be more appropriate, I'm rather hoping for more like this: http://www.liveattheapollo.org/

Classified does seem to parade a rather tired propensity towards knowing ironic, post-Thatcher/Blair "fuck you", take it or leave it smart assishness that is pretty much a hallmark of Brit Art. At Venice there was an Arts Council show featuring second division yBas like Collishaw and Noble and Webster that was parading similar fare, in this case going all Shoreditch, installed with a kind of knowingly deliberate shabbiness and with the similarly smug one word title of Distortion, it wasn't a terribly bad show as such, but I gringed at the calculated sloppiness, it was like something you might see downstairs at The Foundry, but with money thrown at it.

Interesting that Classified is sponsored by BP: Brit Art as a fig leaf for the environmental shortcomings of the oil industry.

Is the title a pun on 'class'? As in, "...ooh look at her, it's looking all class-ified" (imagine this spoken by a cross between Michael Caine in Alfie and an old Soho queen).

Steven Ball said...

oh and Gavid Turk also in the Distortion show... nuff said

Philip Sanderson said...

Yes it's the same old artists, saying much the same old things.

Talking of the Foundry weren't that Storm Bugs lot down there a while back - can they have some money thrown at them please.

Steven Ball said...

yeah right!

(the word verification for this is "retroid", which seems somehow appropriate)