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Thursday, January 19, 2006

BULLSHIT ART? or art bullshit?

Tonight we went along to the opening night of an exhibition by our mate Dave Garner, acclaimed artist, activist and all round good geezer. Dave’s work usually has a political edge to it, and tonight was no exception.

The above piece is called ‘When The Sh*t Hits The Flag’. Basically, it is an American flag literally covered in bullsh*t, collected locally from the farm behind Dave’s house. Over the top of it is the Abraham Lincoln quote “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. To the side of the flag is fan, ensuring that it is flapping in the wind at all times. Pretty self explanatory really; simple, yet profound at the same time.

The installation above, ‘They Shoot Children Don’t they?’, is the centrepiece of the exhibition. It is not really possible to do it justice in words, but I will try to explain what it is… sort of. It is based around a steel globe frame, the bottom of which is wrapped in rope which then runs out across the floor; inside the globe, are items of children’s clothing splattered in blood; hanging from the top of the globe is a TV/video playing a loop of young Palestinian children talking about the motivation behind becoming a suicide bomber and finally, behind the TV is what could only be described as a suicide bombers vest. (Sorry if I have oversimplified this Dave).

I had a long debate with The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger about what it meant; was the rope unravelling or in the process of being wrapped? Would it have been better to have some sort of explanation of what it was or to leave it to the ‘viewer’ to make their own mind up? Personally, I think the fact that we were having the debate may have been part of the point of it, to get people thinking about it both in terms of as a piece of art and the political statement of it.

This piece above, ‘Pockets of Resistance’, is made up of, well.. pockets, lots of ‘em, all sewn together to make one big pocket. Over the top is a woman’s face and the names of various resistance groups. When I tried explaining the piece to the boys in work they said “you mean terrorists”, but that is half the point, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger seemed to think the woman depicted was a famous suicide bomber, but I have not seen her… but then is he is right she wouldn’t be on the telly much these days. Perhaps Dave can put us right when he reads this.

The exhibition will be open until 17th February in the Ty Crawshay Building (odd that anyone would want to honour Crawshay by naming a building after him) from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. I think I might pop back and have another look when there are less people about, if you are in the area it is well worth a look.

It is art (i think... but what exactly is art?) and it is definitely contemporary; but if you want art bullshit you need to go to the Tate Modern, this is something far more profound, meaningful and original than your Tracy Emmins , it is bullshit art!


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