There is a world of difference between the ideas of ‘anything an artist spits is art’ and ‘anyone calling themselves an artist is an artist.’
Since the Dadaist practise has been appropriated into the modernist art canon and the ethos behind it celebrated and mutated to justify any kind of pseudo-artistic excess we have been more often subjected to this bogus democratisation of art.
Without wanting to disappear into the pedantry of semiotics most of us, in and out of the rarefied celebrity-fest that is the ‘art world’, have a fairly constant idea of what an artist is and what an artist does. In general we do not call somebody an athlete unless they display a certain level of prowess at an athletic skill. We all know people who take part in athletic events at a level we would consider less than Olympian – but we do not identify them primarily as athletes. Similarly not everybody who takes part in ‘artistic’ activities would be primarily identified as artists.
All the effort, desire and luck in the world will never make me an athlete – and should I choose to exercise my athletic skills in a public arena representing my country in place of somebody with far more ability, I would expect to be drummed out by the spectators (probably at gunpoint). Even in a postmodern world there is little room for ‘irony’ in sporting arenas, or many other arenas for that manner. Second rate is second rate, and unfortunately in the current art world the over used concept of ‘irony’ has become a major apologist for ‘second rate’ artistic practise. No matter what critical and semiological gloss is applied bad art is bad art – ‘you can’t polish a turd’ – is the phrase I think I’m after.
Anybody cannot become proficient at anything. It might be unfair, undemocratic and un-pc, but it’s a hard fact of life. If this was not the case we would not have a cultural history (that is still continued and added to) celebrating the abilities of those who stood above their peers in whatever fields. There is at current, a glut of deranged celebrities, who feel that they can not only shine in any environment they choose to visit, but honestly believe we live in awe at their apparent accession to the throne of new renaissance man.
In catering to the inflated ego of some rapidly diminishing celebrity their sycophantic curatorial buddies do nothing except devalue the work that others who have no drive but to create ‘artwork’ do.
Neither do four years at the right art college make an artist (and believe me its got more to do with the right college than ability, drive or obsession). How the hell do you teach a wholly subjective subject? They’ll tell you that they can’t – consequently anything goes and everything is Art. Anything goes does it? Travel around a hundred small, privately organised and generally self-funded exhibitions and you’ll find out that most of the truly inspired and individualistic artists out there were subjected to extreme humiliation to make their own work fall within the confines of the shadow of some sad, under-exhibited tutor rattling around in the cultural morass of postmodern theory.
Anything goes – except a few things, unless they’re ironic, or you’re shagging the lecturer.
BITTER AND TWISTED? You’d better bloody believe it.
Tools of the trade.