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Art as Fart

This weekend we went to see an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery.   The exhibition was of the photographic, musical and video outpourings of a Canadian artist called Rodney Graham, described as a "conceptual artist".  It was a real disappointment.

This exhibition displayed everything that is wrong with so much of "art", and epitomised why many people are driven away from any appreciation of modern works.  This was a collection of mediocre artifacts surrounded by a wealth of intellectual bullshit designed to make the works seem "important" or "conceptual" or "good".  Some artists can get away with this, I guess, but the majority of Graham's works are so mediocre (or worse) that the  surrounding documentation is simply ludicrous.

A fine example:  A series of a dozen or more small photographs took up one wall of a large room.  They were all of upside down trees, out of focus, boringly composed.  Reading the attached plaque, one learns that these pictures were taken by Graham using a small pinhole camera.  Fine.  So what?  One still ended up with a dozen out-of-focus static and boring shots of trees.   Another room was filled with similar shots of very similar upside down trees, though this time they were at least in focus and printed to twenty feet high.  Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- that could not be accomplished by any amateur photographer after a lesson or two.

His conceptual movies were equally mundane and essentially boring -- even intellectually.

The exhibition's signature pair of photographs, "Fishing On A Jetty, 2000", make for a magnificent piece of work;  that I cannot deny.


But that was it.  The rest was weak, forced, and uninteresting. Like a fart, it was unpleasant to be around, but the memory quickly fades in fresh air.

April 18, 2005 in Art | Permalink


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