Ag in Africa

1 October, 2006

No escape

Filed under: johannesburg — Ag @ 5:05 pm

Apologies: couldn’t decide whether to use apostrophes or speech marks (or whatever they’re called) so have used both randomly. Pedants, get over it.

A month or so ago, when I was still in Bristol, a friend and I went to see a shite exhibition at The Bristol Museum called ‘The British Art Show 6’. According to the press release from the Arts Council, this was my “opportunity” to “see the most ambitious survey of new and recent developments in art from the UK”. The word ‘opportunity’ was used in the same way that timeshare-hawkers offer you the ‘opportunity’ to go to a ‘showcase event’ at a hotel in town and get ripped off.

Before we went in, we both estimated how shite it would be. He went for 90% shite and I went for 65%. He won. As an example, the “art” included a “piece” that comprised three pieces of MDF joined together. Hmmmm. I stroked my chin.

The thing is, I’d never thought about it, but if I had, I would have guessed that indulgence of such nonsense was a proviso of the West. If pressed on why I thought this, I would have weighed up my assumptions-based-on-prejudices, squeezed them through an inappropriate-stereotyping-filter, and then said something only mildly patronising like, ‘Outside the West I reckon that there is less tolerance for pretentious art bollocks’.

Well, I was wrong. I went to a dance thing at the Dance Factory in Newtown, Joburg on Thursday night, and my previous performance-art-bollocks experiences were truly equalled. Having missed the first ‘piece’ through getting scarily lost driving round-and-round Newtown, I was in good time to see the second ‘piece’. This involved a guy kind of dropping-around the stage area. The audience were invited to come closer to see the action “from a different perspective”, so I did. Dropping-around from the side instead of the front, close up. Hmmmm. I stroked my chin. If it was meant to be a tragedy, it succeeded. During the applause I shouted out ‘Hoxton’. It just came out.

So anyway. There it is. Yet another assumption shattered. There is no geographical border containing art bollocks, and it’s strangely comforting-but-disturbing to know that chin stroking is an international past-time.



  1. so, shite is universal. thank god.
    I had assumed that it was just a failing of the west too.
    so thank you for confirming that it ain’t.

    hoxton! hahahahahaha. nice one.

    Comment by lucy — 1 October, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

  2. I was subjected to John Cage’s ‘4:33’ in an aesthetics class last week… Now THAT’s bollocks too… A piece of ‘music’ that equals 4:33 of watching an orchestra sit looking at its music and listening to audience members cough uncomfortably… Bloody Hell.

    I totally think the modern and post-modern art movement has its head up its butt…

    Comment by deeleea — 5 October, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

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