Friday, 16 August 2013

The appeal of bad art, poetry, music


I used to be fascinated, and quite powerfully attracted, by successful fake art - art which was bad yet prestigious - especially art where I could see how it was done.

I think this may be a much more general phenomenon than just a personal idiosyncrasy, because so many people purport to value as art what is obviously bad art or not-art-at-all - I the reason is not far to seek (in my case).

It is the hope that if they can get away with it, then so might I.


So, by supporting bad art, I was supporting a situation in which I might myself become recognized as a high status artist - and get access to what seemed like a very pleasant lifestyle of doing whatever I wanted to do then other people saying it was intresting (and paying me for it) simply because it was I who had done it.


An example would be Joseph Beuys whose work I first saw in a reverential display at the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol - an almost painfully stylish setting.

When I say reverential, I should note that not only were the man's 'legendary' hat and boots on display, but also (I kid you not) his toenail clippings.

Essentially, the idea behind this exhibition (and the general idea of those who revered Beuys) was that Beuys was not so much an artist, but that art was whatever Beuys did - or, if he didn't do anything, then it was the man himself - or descriptions, photographs or movies of him.

So although Beuys never produced any art at all, let alone art of good quality, he was guaranteed status, income and goodness knows what else, merely by being.

This sounded to me like a good life!


So, to a substantial extent, I bought-into the world of conceptual/ happening/ performance art; in which the accolade of artist was bestowed apparently at random, and where (in fantasy at least) anyone could be made an artist; at which point, they would be 'made'.

For similar reasons I wasted a silly amount of time and attention on poetry and music and prose which I knew was bad, but of a kind whose manufacture I felt myself capable.

In other words, I preferred fake creativity to real creativity because - as a reasonably intelligent person - I realized that fake creativity was within the grasp of anyone of reasonable intelligence who was reasonably knowledgeable about the field in question.

Looking around, I think the same kind of thing must be going on on a large scale.