War in/is Art

What is Art, but a man made creation designed to elicit emotion?

Open with a big statement, that’s what they told me. The guys who used to run this blog were nice and all, but I never really got along with them. A little too hypocritical for my liking. They said ‘DEATH2BADART’ and they thought they were making a difference – shining a light on the terrible artists and awful art around the world.

Have a good look at the old blog posts though, don’t you find them a little strange? Neon lightsWhite Guys in GalleriesDomestic Carcasses? There’s a curious methodology of writing here and I think, through exploring these strange angles and tangents, they’ve missed the crucial issue with art.

Art is Death.

We’ve been artists, ever since the dawn of our species.

I don’t mean caveman drawings daubed on walls, or little pots baked in the heat of the earth.

What I mean is skulls cracked in the name of territory. Throats slit in the service of honour. And families destroyed for the sake of our Gods.

It just got real up in here.

So, how does this relate to Art? Are cracked skulls the oldest form of sculpture? Were the earliest bloodiest assassinations of our times the first pieces of performance art?

Who says that these Arts are really dead? Do you think as soon as we lost our neanderthal brows we stopped cracking skulls? Stopped cutting throats and slaughtering mercilessly?

Of course not. We ran with those ideas and turned them into War.

War – the ultimate maelstrom of human art forms, clashing together in dissonant harmony.

You’d think we’d be ashamed of these acts, but we’re not. We acknowledge them, exalt them and turn them into new forms of Art.

Like this:

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Isn’t it sensational? A real spin on an art classic, really makes you think doesn’t it?

Makes you think: Cool. Check out that gun, that’s pretty badass. Yeah, she’s actually pretty hot, now I think of it. Pretty damn cute, with her tank top and sweet army gear.
What about this?

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Look at this girly wuss. He’s got a sweet gun too, but all he wants to do is play that stupid guitar to that weird cat. What a creep.

How about this one?

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This one’s just dumb. It’s almost like that green machine gun looking out of the van is a mirror image of that soldier guy.

All dressed up in green, with his eyes covered by the binoculars and that crazy gas mask. He almost looks like a machine himsel- ha. That’s it. Kind of smart, I guess. Glorifying war still though…well, not really. Ok, this one can stay.

But, I mean…look at this one, if this doesn’t prove my point, I don’t know what will:

happy-soldiers

Look at these happy smiling idiots. With the grass and trees, it almost looks rea- oh wait this is a photograph. I guess we can’t vilify these men, they probably didn’t have a choice anyway. It’s almost heartwarming, these men trying to enjoy themselves in the heat of War.

The more I think about it, this Art is just a by-product of the effect that War has on us as people. Should we stop with the War then? Probably be a good idea…but then again how would we get anything done?

So, in conclusion:

War is Art, but that’s hardly our fault. It’s all the fault of the cavemen – them and their paints and skulls.

The National Portrait Gallery

The national portrait gallery houses the world most stunning extensive collection of portraits of powerful white men in all the world. The variety in the gallery is truly astonishing with every type of powerful white man fully and fairly represented. We have a wonderful range of powerful white male aristocrats, a dazzling array of powerful white male aristocratic military leaders and, to make sure that no one is left out, rooms of stunningly realised powerful white male aristocratic politicians. Also, for delightful aesthetic variety, the National Portrait Gallery is now proud to announce that it is expanding its collection of powerful white men sitting down:

David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George, by Sir William Orpen, oil on canvas, 1927

on display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery

It is a stunning and bold move forward that has shook many of the stuffier (and, dare we say, more conservative) members of the National Portrait Gallery community to its core. But they are simply scared of change. We love our portraits, sometimes we have powerful white men posing doing what they were well known for doing, like Sir Arthur George Tansley, famed botanist and academic, working away in the library…

by Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn, oil on canvas, 1940.

On display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery.

Or the ever charismatic Prime Minister Clement Atlee, writing laws like a bloody good chap:

Clement Attlee by George Harcourt, oil on canvas, 1946

On display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery

Good work Clement! Sometimes these great men are pictured in front of their possessions. Like books:

Sir (Philip) Christopher Ondaatje

by Daphne Todd, oil on board, 1995

Or paintings:

Philip Wilson Steer by Walter Richard Sickert, oil on canvas, circa 1890

on display in Room 29 at the National Portrait Gallery

Or foreign countries:

Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, by Francis Owen (‘Frank’) Salisbury, oil on canvas, 1945

on display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery

Great! It is good to know that the great and good of our history are so well remembered and celebrated FOR ONCE!…

De-constructing The Domestic Carcass

We spend so much time in houses, in our domestic setting, wallowing in these shells. I’m so bored of houses, we have no choice. This is the illusion of choice in capitalism: You can live in any type of house! There are so many innovations! So many styles in the Ikea catalogue! And so many other catalogues! The sheer variety of catalogues is so overwhelming, don’t you see how many options you have!

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Hooray

This is the array of choice you have, from a thousand different toothpastes to a long Google search for the best kitchen unit carcasses (that’s apparently what a kitchen unit with out a door is called, go ahead and click the link and check it out, it’s a carcass). What kitchen unit carcass will best express your domestic identity? Which one will tell the story you want your kitchen to tell about you and your family and your life? Which microwave best expresses the narrative you have around your families journey?

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I just feel it really gets across where we want to be in ten years…’

But you don’t have actual choice, you can only really live the one type of life the one which is forced at us from every angle, from every billboard and every magazine, from every television screen, from every bloody screen! Every tweet and every instagram account, it’s all screaming one world into your raw heart, and it’s a world that needs you but doesn’t care about you. It wants your involvement, it wants your energy, it wants your life, but it doesn’t care about your happiness, it doesn’t care about your love, it doesn’t care about the type of world that you want. It just wants you to buy in and spend, to through yourself away. That’s all it needs, are you going to give the machine what it needs?

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Will it be worth it?…

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The flash of a neon light

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

From ‘The Sound Of Silence’ By Simon and Garfunkle, covered below by James Blake and Bon Iver, with visuals from Andreij Tarkovskij’s ‘Ivan’s Childhood’

One of the wonderful things about artists who work with neon, is that they are undertaking an art form that has risk inherent with in it. Julia Bickerstaff, a veteran of working with neon:

“Essentially, there are only three risks – cutting yourself, burning yourself and electrocuting yourself,”

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Neon has a distinct appeal, it is consistently otherworldly and ethereal, raising any statement written in it to a new plane where it takes on a meaning and a reverence it did not have before. This can be somewhat misleading though, because words have a meaning in themselves as well as in their context, but there are many ways to give new or more or some meaning to words by presenting them in a certain way. Sometimes this contextualization provides a genuine contrast that does draw out a meaning that was lying dormant in the original text.

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yeah…

Just because something is written in neon does not make it deep and meaningful though. It’s similar to putting something in speech marks and attributing it to a unheard of foreign sounding name. For instance we all know that neon is a dream sequence made by the universe to chill the worries of the modern mind. And we all know that that is meaningless nothingness. But…

“Neon is a dream sequence made by the universe to chill the worries of the modern mind”

Petrioano Pretentiousalai, Italian Writer and Philosopher, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1956.

Owwwwwwwwww, all of a sudden that’s really rather interesting. Light is a dream sequence  is it? Hmmmmm, to chill the worries of the modern mind? Hmmmmmm. Perhaps though, meaning and interest already lies with in you, the viewer of the thing, all you need is enough signifiers to tempt your brain into seeking out that meaning. It’s lazy art in a way, as you’re doing all the work, but it is an interesting experiment in the relationship between the artist and the viewer, and where in that relationship meaning arises. Who makes the experience? It takes two to tango…

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Neon is also interesting because it is so modern and technological, but completely hand made every time. It is a art form that has been commercialized and become a wide part of popular culture but has retained the role of the artist. Which is good.

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Manifesto

On The Need For Blood

“The air thin and pure, danger near, and the spirit full of gay sarcasm: these go well together. I want to have goblins around me, for I am courageous. Courage that puts ghosts to fight creates goblins for itself: courage wants to laugh.” Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche

The true artist should want to be surrounded by goblins. They should not just accept the goblins, they should want them. They should cultivate them. They should strive for them. Where is the courage of an artist surrounded by friends and admirers? Surround yourself with goblins. Don’t preach to the choir, preach to the murder squad.

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From The Manifesto of ‘The Hatchet Job of The Year‘: ‘Hatchet Job of the Year is a crusade against dullness, deference and lazy thinking. It rewards critics who have the courage to overturn received opinion, and who do so with style.’

Dullness, deference and lazy thinking. Nothing could be further from what we need right now. We need excitement, we need passion, we need activity. We need blood. Hot blood. Hot blood that can overwhelm the cold and boring. That is what we need. Where will we find it?…