Sunday, January 26, 2014

Art, Photography and Politics

On Friday I took some time (and myself) to visit the (two) Serpentine Galleries and then felt the need to go to Tate Modern, in the past I have learnt that my initial impressions on exhibition visits are often a little shallow and with time I can be reconsider and reassess the quality and significance of what I've seen, so it might be with the two major shows at The serpentine, particularly that of Jake and Dinos (Chapman).

Serpentine Sackler Gallery

What I found good/engaging about the Chapman's  'Come and See'  tour de force at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery was  the Ku Klux Klan mannequins and the McDonald's imagery in their three dimensional battle scene landscapes, what irritated me most was the film screening , even though it had more of   Ku Klux Klan mannequins  (is Film art different from Film? Why is it that prize winning artists like Steve McQueen and Sam Taylor-Wood are now working in the Film Industry?)
FYI the  Ku Klux Klan mannequins are amusing because of the juxtapose of their socks, sandals and Smiley Faces with the threatening nature of the rest of their garb.
As well as the down beat feel to the perhaps too many examples of what is a very productive duo in terms of numbers of works, what as a one off  'One day we will no longer be loved' (influenced by Goya I gather) tends for me to lose impact in being endlessly repeated - I think more would be less the gallery is packed to rafters with their stuff as well as (and I'm included in this group.) quite a a crowd of pseuds talking loudly (but saying little) - I will try and revisit in a few weeks and might have a different view at this time.

(I would say that looking around it appears that the Chapman brothers do elicit reactions - which is in these bland days is maybe a positive?)

So after the  Sackler Gallery the Wael Shawky exhibition  (again largely film) at the 'Old' Serpentine it felt like something of a breath of fresh air and I must agree with the Guardian reviewer - it being (I think) less up itself and slightly more upbeat, there was humour that was not only of the gallows type  and there was space as well as someone asking me questions about my visit.
I gather it's about Egypt and some of the marionettes deployed reminded me of those rather unsettling images used by East European film makers in their recounting of childhood fables.

Tate Modern


The Tate Modern extension
I've wondered what makes Photography Art, I suppose as Nick Pearson (amongst others) pointed out Art is what Artists do (so the same could go for the above with Artists who have directed films- perhaps)  well I thought I needed some Art that was not of the Serpentine variety and Tate Modern exhibition of the work of the late Harry Callahan (not the Clint Eastwood character of a similar name) was a blast of coolness that made me want to go and get some monochrome film stock and a Leica camera, some lovely compositions beautifully framed and printed - this exhibition is free and really worth looking at.
What a cool self portrait by Harry
The other thing that caught my eye on the way from looking (of course) at the Rothkos was ‘Prose Poems’, by the artist Daniel Spoerri - I suppose there's something of the George Braque collages about it and it also reminded me of some of the trick of the eye works I've seen recently but I liked it for some reason and  it leads me into..

Politics ahead of 2015


To me it's beginning to feel like the starting pistol for the 2015 UK general election has been fired or perhaps it's like that famous Jeffery Archer race with so Jeffery so quick to get off the starting blocks that he doesn't bother too much about the pistol.
Either way the challenge of securing a clear Labour victory is looking increasingly difficult, the timing for a feel good factor for the Tory led coalition is looking near perfect, it might be a hollow boom created around banker bonuses and inflated London housing costs but it is sucking more people into employment and some commentators suspect that inflationary wage rises are just around the corner (including the minimum wage we suspect).
The potential fly in Cameron's ointment is UKIP and the calculations around appealing to the latent British Xenophobia as opposed to the large number of recent migrants and their voting age offspring who will be able to vote is a difficult calculation to make.

With the present scandal fueled chaos within the Liberal part of the coalition Clegg will be given some more 'wins' to crow over but it is likely (I think) that under the prolonged spotlight of the electioneering that will start at the end of the year the schizophrenia of the party's leanings will be clear to the electorate and they will suffer (and they'll probably have a bad Euro-Election too).

Whatever your own views on the best party to rule the UK the Balls manifesto that  includes the reintroduction of a top rate of 50% income tax looks to be living up to its name this allied with Red Ed's promise to widen competition in the Banking sector has managed to make what seem like sensible measures something of a PR mess.

As the Chinese curse says  may you live in 'interesting times' and  it'll be interesting to see how things play out politically in the next year or so.    
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