Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where is the art?

Now I'm in England I watch one old film (1930s-70s) practically every two days. I find almost all of them fascinating and always wonder why 'We just can't make them like that anymore'. I'm quite convinced that traditional cinema really began to suffocate in the 1990s and died off almost completely around the year 2000. Today its trying to resuscitate itself with shock therapy - crueller violence, unsimulated sex, faster cutting and computer effects. And the trench foot isn't only in Hollywood products - how many recently promoted arty or 'independent' films are worth watching more than two times? And in thirty years time? Will the advent of RealD will give traditional cinema the swan song it deserves? Maybe.But what about Real Art - the stuff you look at in the galleries? As with cinema's last life signs (Lynch, Almodóvar, for me particularly Sokurov) there are some old-style artists amongst the sea of garbage still trying to make something worth remembering for a reason other than its shock value - the painter Paula Rego comes to mind. But who's interested in a new painting when 'cutting-edge art' can take the form of some semen-stained newspapers? I'm increasingly certain that there is great art today - we just have to find it. Its occurring unintentionally and its often the individual them self who is the art. Paris Hilton is a prime example. Doesn't she herself and her material output reflect the times we live in - with supreme accuracy? And yet despite the greatness and relevance of her life-as-art, it too is utterly forgettable.

But for timeless 21st century art, have a look at this picture below that I came across by chance on the internet yesterday. This one of three pictures showing Disney/Milne's Piglet character posed by a tourist in different places around Auschwitz death camp where over a million people were killed. All three Piglet pictures look almost superimposed but they're not. I'm quietly sure the young woman who took them isn't aware of the many layers of truth and emotion to be found in them. Doesn' t that make them all the more richer? What's more their presence among a whole load of "Piglet's Holiday Photos" makes the series into a potentially powerful work of modern 'accidental’ art... Or am I losing it?

A friend of mine has filmed tourists smiling and poising for the camera inside Auschwitz, a porn film has also been made there (secretly) but this 'Piglet's Auschwitz Walkabout' series taken with all its ghastly casualness - feels like the most devastatingly simple work of unintentional art I've chanced upon in a long time. Stare into those pictures. What do they say to you?

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