Saturday, 16 October 2010

Modern Art Anyone?

Speaking personally (and how else can I speak) modern art is a bit of a hit and miss affair. Some of it I like and some of it just doesn’t compute.

Take Antony Gormley’s work for example, some folk hate it, but I love it, especially his Angel of the North sculpture. I think it’s awe-inspiring, it just does something to me. Okay, I acknowledge that the wings aren’t the most graceful wings an angel has ever possessed. I doubt that Mary would have been impressed if the angel Gabriel had shown up with what looks like a couple of planks strapped across his shoulders instead of a nice set of curved feather wings, she’d have probably asked for a second opinion regarding the message being delivered.

The latest piece of modern art to be causing some controversy is Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds, which is currently being exhibited at The Tate Modern. A good many folk are questioning whether a 100 million replica sunflowers seeds handcrafted from porcelain and chucked across a floor can really be construed as ‘art.’

Again speaking personally (seeing as no one is willing to speak for me) I think it is art, or at least the concept represented by the seeds is artistic. One of the obligations of art is to make us think. The seeds represent, and I quote: the ocean of humanity, the incalculable numbers of people on this earth – and their fragility underfoot. With regard to the latter, the exhibition was meant to be interactive, visitors to the hall where the seeds are exhibited were meant to walk across them, to feel them give underfoot, to pick up seeds, each of which represents the individual in the crowd.

It therefore seems ironic that something that was designed to make people think about the whole concept of humanity has been closed off from humanity by the mysterious beings who make up the health and safety executive. It seems they feared that the dust given off from the seeds as they were crushed underfoot would cause health problems. The exhibition has consequently been roped off. People are no longer allowed to walk on or even touch the seeds. They have to view them from the bridge that crosses the hall, which kind of makes its own statement…humanity distanced from itself.

It’s really rather sad. To me the decision, which was apparently made for the public good (chilling words) is a kind of censorship. It’s a bit like preventing people accessing certain kinds of books (for example that debacle a while back when Amazon attempted to cordon off glbt books and make them difficult for folk to access) Health and safety regulations are all well and good (without them we’d still no doubt have kids dodging under looms in textile factories) but how far is far enough and how far is too far?

Rumour has it that the health and safety police are planning to target the world of kink next. Tops will be forced to wear protective earplugs in case the noise made by their subs under punishment damages their hearing. Subs on the other hand will be forced NOT to wear butt plugs in case it damages their…well you get the picture.

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