"The king is in the altogether, the altogether, the altogether..."
I was in London last week and decided to visit the Tate Britain gallery and take a look at the 2012 Turner Prize show. Often controversial, often interesting, but usually a good way to spend a rainy London afternoon. I took the tube to Pimlico and ignored the signs to the Tate which take you past the extension to Chelsea Art School, preferring to walk along the banks of the Thames. I walked past the old Government Office for London building, and noticed it was being refurbished or knocked down - or perhaps was just Christo's latest piece of art.
While taking the above photo I was accosted by a Big Issue sales person. I bought a copy off him, and we walked together along the banks of the Thames. He was an interesting man - clearly well-educated, about the same age as me, Irish, and friendly, we chatted about life on the streets, and he told me he was writing everything down with the intention of writing a book. I wished him luck, and we parted ways as we reached the Tate. To get into the Tate Britain nowadays, you don't enter via the Thames, because of building work going on. And in fact the side entrance makes the whole layout deeply confusing, with the "free maps" (£1 "donation" and please give your map back for recycling when you leave) completely unhelpful. I found the ticket office, where they tried to sting me for a further "donation" on top of the £10 ticket price.
Not seen the Turner Prize show this year? Take a look at this film from the Guardian website ("found footage") - everything you need to know is here and you'll save yourself £10 - but take everything Adrian Searle says with a large lump of rock salt:
And this is the problem with film. We all see film all the time on TV, at the cinema, on our computers, laptops wherever. We are all very film-litertate. A lot of the film work we see is crap (X Factor) but a lot of what we see is of very high quality - whether it be Hollywood, a TV show or even an ad or a pop video. What then does an art film have to offer that is different and interesting? That is, a film outside of the normal context we see film, placed in a gallery setting to do whatever it is art does. I don't know - and the reason I don't know is that I have never seen an art film that succeeded in doing so. I may have missed something - but the two art films in this exhibition only succeed in proving my point. By trying to be something different, they only succeed in being something that isn't visually or artistically interesting.
"Spartacus Chetwynd (born Lali Chetwynd, 1973) is a British artist known for reworkings of iconic moments from cultural history in deliberately amateurish and improvisatory performances"
Well she succeeds in her "deliberate amateurish-ness", if nothing else. I have no idea what this was all about. It was irritating, pretentious, and poorly executed. I don't understand - nor care about - what this was about. Some people dressed up in some "deliberately amateurish" costumes, mucking around with some "deliberately amateurish": puppets, doing completely obscure indecipherable things, in a poorly built, poorly conceived (deliberately amateurish I guess) "set". I took a photo with my phone of part of the "set" - it looks better in this photo than it did in real life. But still amateurish.
Speaking of money, there's £10 I'll never see again. I wish I'd given it to the guy who sold me the big issue, rather than encourage the poverty of creation I'd seen here.
So to cheer myself up, I went upstairs at the Tate Modern and looked at the Howard Hodgkin retrospective. Unfortunately a very small exhibition - but some damn nice paintings. And free to view.