Thursday, October 12, 2006

Frieze, mothers

("Text art" at the Frieze.)

This afternoon we had the jolly good luck to go to the Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park. The Frieze is the most reknown contemporary art fair in the world, this year showcasing 150 international galleries, as well as. Interestingly enough, we saw several of the galleries we'd seen in Chelsea in Manhattan represented at the Fair. We were originally planning on attending the fair yesterday, but as it was VIP/Press Day and we are not technically press, we got turned away. Some people did, however, see Claudia Schiffer; I did not.

The reason that we tried to get in on press day is that we are producing an hour long program for Resonance FM, the first London-based art radio station. We signed up in small groups or individually to produce various audio segments for the program, ranging from vox pops, to interviews, to narratives, to reviews. I am working on the last category, reviews. Julia and I are attempting to make a 5 minute review of the Fair. I said "attempting" not because we are struggling with the production, but, on the contrary, because we had such a great time making the audio recording that we have a lot of really funny material to sift through. So now we are just editing it down.

In essence, our review introduces the Fair, then focuses in on what we have deemed "text art." TA, as we've defined it, is art that is mostly, if not entirely, made of text. We were inspired to talk about this genre after seeing "Diagonal Nude" by Fiona Banner. This piece is essentially an enormous canvas with handwriting scrawled on it. At first I wasn't too impressed by it, but after reading the text I realized that it was a description of the image that a painting or drawing could be. It describes a woman, and the position of her nude body within the frame. This was interesting because although I was simply reading text, I saw an actual image. This, however, lead us to question whether the two varieties of TA are actually art since they consist primarily of words (the first variety is just words, the second contains words and some images mixed in). I think it depends on what the piece does for you individually, and that your reaction determines whether it is art. I feel that although "Diagonal Nude" is just words, it created an image in my mind, and that, for me, was an artistic experience. Some of the other TA that we saw, however, did not inspire any images in my mind's eye, and thus I did not feel that I could classify them as art. I guess that is extremely subjective, but if I've learned anything today, it's that contemporary art is extremely subjective. I mean, obviously most people could create some of the "pieces" that appear in galleries nowadays, so it's got to be. I don't mean to sound old fashioned by saying "nowadays," but I do rather enjoy aesthetically pleasing works.

Ah, aesthetics. They raise an entirely new issue, one that I am not sure I should get into...but what the hey. Is it just me, or is art just not pretty anymore? Is it just me, or are other people somewhat disturbed by this? Or if not disturbed, at least a bit perturbed. So, contemporary art, at least as I understand it, is in large part motivated to challenge the notion of art as an aesthetically pleasing medium. Incase you're wondering where I got this theory, it's pretty much apparent after one venture into a con. gallery or musuem. As we have done a lot of this, I feel like I have a lot of examples. Anyway, while I understand and condone the idea of pushing the limits of what people consider to be "art" or "beautiful," I still don't necessarily understand how some things are considered to be art.

Today some people also saw Emma Watson at the Fest; I, however, did not. Boo hoo.


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