Friday, February 25, 2005

Artist Fartist

I’m an artist. Are you an artist? Sure you are. Everyone is, or haven’t you heard? We’re all artists. Society has artists coming out of its ying yang. You don’t have to have any talent. Just write a bad novel and poof, you’re an artist. Record a CD that no one buys, you’re an artist. Make a sculpture out of cow dung. Yep. That makes you a bonafide arteeest.

When my daughter was an infant I saw some excremental matter in her diaper that exceeded the quality of what most of today’s so-called visual artists produce. Sometimes there was a bit of flatulence. I think she’s an artist. After all, one man’s art is another man’s fart, or something like that. I’m a dummy. I should have called the CBC and told them that the gas and poop were symbols of anti-Americanism. They would have loved it. They would have made her a star. I could have coined the word fartist and made a fortune.

A little while ago, I read about a woman who made a dress out of meat. It was displayed in a gallery. The media gave it oodles of coverage and gushingly referred to the woman as an artist. In another era she would have been more accurately called an idiot.

Honestly now, isn’t anyone else tired of hearing no talent hacks call themselves artists?

Michelangelo, DaVinci, Shakespeare, McCartney, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Burns, Astair, Poe, Dickens, Nureyev, Olivier, Tennyson. No one disputes the fact that they are artists.

So, if they are artists, what is a person who makes a dress out of meat? Shouldn’t she be called a butcher or meat cutter or something?

I work in downtown Toronto. In the area where I work there is a sculpture garden where artists get to display their work. Currently there is a big boulder sitting there as a work of art. A simple, unaltered boulder. It is labelled with a metallic plaque as an “Erratic Boulder”. Oh, I get it. A regular run of the mill boulder is unimportant. But once a so called artist calls it an “Erratic Boulder’ it’s worth $50,000 in tax funded grant money. Of course, there is a written description of the boulder on display describing in big fancy words the purpose of the boulder. It apparently represents some important social issue or something. To me, it’s just a boulder. I wonder, is the boulder the art, or are the fancy words that describe it really the art? It appears to me that delusion and illusion must be an crucial part of being an artist these days. Producing real art through unique talent is secondary to making what the artist sees as a socially relevant statement.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned or something but I always thought that art was supposed to be something that requires special talent. Geez, anyone could pick out a boulder. And, when it comes to boulders, isn’t God or erosion or someone the real artist? Or maybe it's the backhoe driver or trucker who lugs it to the site. Aren't they artists too? I cannot help but wonder, why are we allowing these grant funded pretentious pretenders to call themselves artists? And who is selling us this damaged bill of goods?

Why, the government and the media, of course.

We live in an era where there are millions of tax dollars available to artists who please their government benefactors. And there are thousands of TV stations, magazines, radio stations, and newspapers that all have Arts sections and shows dedicated to the promotion and sometimes decimation of artists. And grants must be given, print space must be filled and air time must be occupied. Hundreds upon hundreds of bureaucrats must find someone to give grants to. And thousands of so called media critics and reviewers must find something to talk and write about. So the grants flow and the talking heads talk. And they call the subjects of their attention, artists. In turn, the subjects of their attention feel entitled to call themselves artists. They feed off each other. Without each other, they woudn't even exist in the minds of the public. Certainly, they have no reason to.

If any of these people had to make their living producing something of lasting value and of relevant interest to normal people, they would starve.

These days most of our music stars are dressed, made up and packaged by record company executives. The music they make is the music their corporate bosses allow them to make. They parade their plastic, record-company-invented personas and music in our faces and claim to be artists. Yet, they have as much control over what they say and do as a bank executive. They are nothing more than empty shells, answering only to their corporate masters.

Of course, most of what these so called artists produce won't last long in the public perception or memory. In fact, most of it has no reason to exist in the first place. But, unfortunately, we have all been conditioned to recognize them as artists.

Well, I don't think they're artists. I think they're self deluded frauds living on the attention their media pimps give them. Their so called works are tripe - forgettable, disposable and unimportant.

I have written previously about how our language is being dumbed down, downgraded and disrespected by people who either have no clue as to what words mean or whose interests are served by exploiting language to serve their own selfish purposes. Well, it pains me to say that the word “artist” seems to be the latest victim of these manipulative snake oil salesmen.

Tell me, if every wanna-be who manages to produce a disposable novel, song, film, poem, dance number, sculpture or painting is an artist, then what exactly is Michelangelo, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Nureyev, Dickens, Olivier or Tennyson? Are we not disrespecting the timeless work of these real artists by allowing so many corporate schills, grant funded no talent hacks, and media mouthpieces to usurp the title ‘artist’ for their own gain?


Blogger Kester said...

I agree. Hmm. What else can I say? Boulder?

11:53 AM  
Blogger Ovaltitan said...

You miss the point. The fartist's is putting on display several societal paradigms and principles. The work of a fartist shows Smithian capitalism at work when someone pays for their work - if there is a market, there will be a supplier. The work of a fartist shows Marxian socialism at work when their work is financed through a government program- the state represents the collective stupidty of the people. The work of a fartist illustrates the principle of Barnumian marketing - there is a sucker born every minute. The work of the fartist explores the principle of the emperor's new clothes to a deeper level - what did the emperor do after he was exposed as being naked in public? He kept walking while ignoring the hoots and howls of the general population. Afterall, given the choice between admitting you're naked and admitting you're stupid, the stupid always admit that they're naked.

10:14 AM  

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