Monday, October 22, 2007

Ain't Nothing To It *

JJ and I decided to go along to the Tate Modern on Friday to fill our heads with culture. Well, it was my birthday and I wanted a treat. Now I adore the Tate Modern, thinking it to be a beautiful building and a marvellous use of its internal space. So we looked at the crack in the ground which is also known as Shibboleth by Doris Salcedo. JJ didn't take it seriously, in fact, she laughed quite a lot. "But JJ," I asked, "don't you agree with Martin Herbert, who says in the accompanying leaflet for the Salcedo piece that 'it prompts a broader consideration of power's divisive operations as encoded in the brutal narratives of colonialism, their unhappy aftermaths in postcolonial nations, and in the stand off between rich and poor, northern and southern hemispheres'?" JJ replied: "No, it's just a crack in the ground!"
I pressed her again. "But surely, JJ, you would concur with Salcedo when she says that the crack 'reveals a colonial and imperial history that has been disregarded, marginalised or simply obliterated ... the history of racism, running parallel to the history of modernity and ... its untold dark side'." "No," JJ declared again, "it's just a crack in the ground!"
I then thrust Herbert's text in front of her and demanded that she read the final paragraph, which goes:
"Through Shibboleth, these phantasmal pressures comprise and ineradicable faul line: one that now, it appears, is causing the building to seismically sundered. Gouging open the very ground that we walk on. Salcedo reminds us that these wounds can not be simply consigned to the past. She encourages us to confront discomforting truths about our world and about ourselves with absolute candidness and without self-deception."

"Martin Herbert is a twat," JJ screams. At this point, I could only agree. What a load of wank, indeed!

* The Stranglers



Anonymous Messalina said...

As if the art wasn't alienating enough, the crap they write is enough to put you right off! Do people actually believe all that bollocks or are they just pretending, under the illusion that they appear clever ...? Never been able to work that one out.

10:46 am  
Blogger Reidski said...

They've got to be pretending.

I don't want to appear like the philistine that I am, but I think if any piece of art, book, film, etc, can only be understood by reading accompanying texts, then it's failed. The idea that I would be impressed with the contents of a book only by reading another book which explains what it was all about is preposterous.

Probably not explained myself well, here, but hope you get the gist!

11:12 am  
Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I am sometimes embarrassed to be an art historian...

PS am I the only person who hears the word 'Shibboleth' and immediately thinks "West Wing reference to the Bible!"?

1:50 pm  
Anonymous Messalina said...


Don't be embarrassed, Lisa. I think there is a lot of fascinating stuff to be said about art. What I would welcome from you art historians is more about how the art was received in its time. For example, I think very few people today realise the hoo ha that the Impressionists caused and if that could be described and explained it would lead to increased interest.

10:52 am  
Blogger Reidski said...

lisa - no problem with art history or art historians whatsoever. It's the contemporary bollocks that is the problem.

Messalina - what hoo ha did the likes of Mike Yarwood cause? Was it his Harold Wilson impression or the Edward Heath one which was the problem? I'm fascinated ;-)

6:12 pm  
Blogger J.J said...

Well mainly I think I was laughing at us and at other people there as we all earnestly stared at a crack in the floor trying and failing to appreciate it was 'art'. Most peculiar.

9:04 pm  

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