Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I don't buy Mao, Che, Castro, Hitler and Osama kitsch/memorabilia because as far as I'm concerned, there is little difference between an Aileen Wuornos tee (if such an item exists) and a Mao one.

When an acquaintance walked into one of those faux retro shops, she burst into tears because it was Mao's regime who had tortured her grandfather.

Having said that, I wouldn't deny someone's enjoyment of satire that serves to insult such notorious figures. I used to wear a tee that said 'chink', though that's a poor comparison (I think). You're free to buy your Maoist alarm clock complete with saluting arm ticking the minutes. Never in a million years would I deny these objects - or this kitsch industry - their existence.

In most cases the satire just falls into thoughtless brand building, it goes from pot shot to money shot, and I have to admit, sometimes I can't distinguish between the two.

Speaking of satire, or a surprising lack of, I was delighted at how devoid of irony Martin Creed's work is, having seen him perform and talk here recently. He of the 'lights on lights off' fame. Very existential, I'm not sure whether painfully or joyfully so. Of course, initial reactions to his work (a blu-tac on the wall, short films of people vomiting and shitting) is probably that he is a trickster and that his winning the Turner was a sham. Had I not seen his work and performances for myself, I would've thought the same.

His Auckland show involved a roomful of pink balloons, inflated with half the amount of air in the space. I had doubts about it before I went, but it turned out to be one of those artworks you have to experience for yourself. Walking in a room with balloons above head level was really something else. It took us back to being kids, back to the joy of being and doing. Hitting balloons at each other was a great way to make friends. Too bad many of the attendees stayed outside to drink/smoke/schmooze instead of having a play. I remember Hubby murmuring things like, "This is what the world ought to be like" and "imagine if his exhibition was named 'Rebirth' how much it would suck".

By the end of opening night, most of the balloons had floated out into the street and left a pretty empty gallery. In fact, a local reviewer - who I think visited the exhibition after opening night - pretty much said that the show was rubbish and just looked like the aftermath of a party. He should've come to the preview.

At the gig, M.C. performed songs like "1 to 100" which I found rather fun and democratic, since everyone knew the lyrics and also precisely when the song would end. As an encore, he sang "100 to 200". People were dancing ecstatically.

Most striking to me was his way of thinking and speaking: more sincere than disingenuous, and always this dilemma of the art as product, art as meaning and art as collateral objects of an artful life. My husband's the only other person I know who talks and thinks like that (maybe Old Man Oscar as well) - which makes this newspaper photo supremely apt and serendipitous:

Look, there's hubby's head bobbing up in the background.

See also


Shawn Feeney said...

If you ever make it to Pittsburg in the USA, you can visit a room at the Andy Warhol museum filled with silver balloons that float like clouds - much fun:

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Thanks :)