Archive for June, 2011

The Glastonbury festival goon squad

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Someone at the recent Glastonbury festival brought a balloon with them which they inflated during the U2 performance. The text on the balloon criticised the band’s hypocrisy  (particularly Bono, I presume) for using tax shelters to hide their considerable wealth. There is indeed an issue with fabulously wealthy people bemoaning the state of the poor whilst simultaneously denying them help in an indirect way. I don’t know how much U2 donate to charity or how many hours they work in soup kitchens but my issue in this instance is not with U2 but with the Glastonbury festival organisers.

The balloon was similar to many other standards flying in the crowd. Some standards promoted well known, profit driven commercial enterprises. Presumably this was acceptable to the organisers because they were allowed to remain. The balloon criticising U2 however, was removed by the authorities. Read that sentence again… The balloon criticising U2 however, was removed by the authorities.

The authorities in this case were the security ‘guards’ at the festival. The ‘protest’ balloon was making a valid comment on the facts surrounding the band on stage. It was not inflammatory, it was raising a debate. Wasn’t the original motivation for having festivals, the desire to have an alternative space where freedom of thought and expression could flourish? It appears the hypocrisy of U2 has infected the festival organisers in a contagion which has spread unnoticed by the morally alert and ethically switched on intelligentsia of festival goers — or am I imagining these people still exist?

Inevitably, the wheel turns full circle and the Glastonbury festival has become the very thing it originally professed to despise.

God is a work of art

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Conceptual artwork

Conceptual artwork

God, as a work of art, is unparalleled in human creativity. The breathtaking audacity of its eternal vision, of its sweep and grandeur over the face of time and space itself and its use of concepts such as hell fire, purgatory, intercession, heaven, make it the apotheosis of sublime awe. In the masterworks gallery of conceptual genius, god sits on the finest plinth in the centre of the vaulted dome that generates the purest light.

Then along comes science and declares god a fake. Science claims that the author of the work — God himself — doesn’t exist and therefore only gifted artisans could have put the piece together. The body that declares the legitimate provenance of the work – the church, maintains its position, confident that science can’t come up with the necessary evidence. The accusation divides the viewing public. Those that believe the work to be genuine, dig in and entrench themselves with the historical ‘evidence’. Those that doubt the authenticity of the work, lose interest and leave the gallery. Very few ignore the inquisition altogether and simply enjoy the spectacle for what it is.

But the conundrum remains, nothing has really changed: the artwork remains exactly the same, it is only the perception of the artwork that is altered. Any painting, looked at rationally, is just marks of coloured shit on canvas or board. It is the belief about the construction of the artwork that fires our imagination.

Whether an artwork is fake or original or machine generated should be irrelevant, the artwork is what it is, either you like the piece or you don’t. Who created the piece is of interest only to those who benefit from that knowledge – collectors, art dealers, auctioneers, and owners…

And here is the crux of the story. Ultimately, it is the market that decides. Those with a vested interest will fight the doubt at all costs. They have empires to defend, property to maintain and income to collect. Even in the face of incontrovertible evidence, the intellectual property owners have to deny the evidence because the consequences are dire — if their authority is brought into question with this one, where does it end? What else is a fake in the gallery? And if you have invested a lifetime of prayer into these works… is that lifetime wasted then?

In the market of ideas, art is a confidence trick. The same trick is played in the currency markets, in the diamond market. The god market is no different.