Monday, February 25, 2008

Still cracked

The installation at the Tate Modern (below), Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth provides an excellent example of rhetoric standing in for, or justifying, the art. This is excerpted from the publicity material, which I suggest reading in toto just to get the full effect:

Salcedo is addressing a long legacy of racism and colonialism that underlies the modern world…” The history of racism,” Salcedo writes, “runs parallel to the history of modernity, and is its untold dark side”…. Our own time, Salcedo is keen to remind us, remains defined by the existence of a huge socially excluded underclass, in Western as well as post-colonial societies…”

Hullo, it’s a crack. A crack. A break in concrete. The artist’s intention does not change the experience, which happens to be one that leads to strange parental behavior. But if you insist on metaphor, it could represent any disparity—including the one between those who are willing to shell out $50 for a Duchamp T-shirt and those who aren’t.


lauriemcleod said...

Richard Serra's words "The work comes out of the work" were a real tonic after the bombastic blablabla of the formal writing about the Crack.

Why hasn't anyone done a conceptual piece where they make work and then make up the most appallingly hoity toity explanations which in fact have absoutely nothing to do with the work, and see if anyone notices or cares or if the whole world falls for it. Or has someone in fact done this already?


Carol Diehl said...

In my art writing classes I've given students what I call the "purple prose" assignment, where I read them something flowery and O.T.T. by Donald Kuspit and ask them to write like that. It opens them up to greater flights of interpretation because they're free from being taken seriously. It's also hilarious. But, sadly, not so wildly different from the stuff the art P.R. mill churns out on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time seeing the racist symbolism in the evisceration of the left side of Tate Modern from the right side of Tate Modern. Tate Britain on the other hand.

I like it more that the museum would allow its building to be cut open. Seems to open the door to total, artistic destruction. Imagine what the guards would say if the next time you walk in there you're carrying a jackhammer and a determined look on your face.