Sharks ‘n’ Sh*t… (lest we forget)

Right. Where were we?
Ah, yes: “disaffected cynicism”.
(And, in case you’re just about to have your tea, a healthy dose of the scatological.)

It’s a good while since I dusted off my All-Purpose-ArtiBollox-Detector™ (with optional Nut-Crusher) and went Damien-bashing; I began to think it was tediously easy; more to the point, post the monumental display of unbridled hubris that was the Gagosian/Hirst collaboration and then those appalling new ‘paintings’, every bugger was at it.
I hate a bandwagon. So much so, I actively sought out positive reviews. Just for the change.
“Poor Damien. He’s alright, really. I’d buy him a pint.”

Then I remembered: he’s made, like, a gazillion quid from getting other sackless sods to make shite.
He can buy me a pint.

Instrumental in returning me to my senses was a quote in last week’s Guardian from the late, great Robert Hughes (yes, him again; you can’t have too many Hughes quotes):

“The publicity over the shark created the illusion that danger had somehow been confronted by Hirst, and come swimming into the gallery, gnashing its incisors. Having caught a few large sharks myself off Sydney, Montauk and elsewhere, and seen quite a few more over a lifetime of recreational fishing, I am underwhelmed by the blither and rubbish churned out by critics, publicists and other art-world denizens about Hirst’s fish and the existential risks it allegedly symbolises.
One might as well get excited about seeing a dead halibut on a slab in Harrods food hall.”

Ya see?
Degrees of separation between Hirst and experience; between Hirst and authenticity; between Hirst and the real world. What kind of deluded, lily-livered namby-pamby wuss are you, Jonathan Jones, – “No encounter with a contemporary work of art has ever thrilled me like the day I walked into the Saatchi Gallery in 1992 and saw a tiger shark’s maw lurch towards me…” (you lurched towards it, by the way) – if you sustain ‘visceral shock’ over a pimped-up fish-bowl in the admittedly life-threatening, elemental confines of a London art gallery?
Embodied ‘primal fear’ as felt when viewing Jaws from behind a cushion, and to which the only reasonable response is “Big, innit?”

So, Hirsty, in memory of Mr Hughes, consider hostilities well and truly resumed.

On Sunday, happily, I came across this review, and delicious kick to boyo’s nethers, in Charisma Robot’s Day Trips to the Void blog, which reminded me how much fun Damien-bashing is when you put your mind to it. So moved was CR by Hirst’s oeuvre, she/he spent literally minutes creating this heartfelt homage:
Bottom Boom: A Conceptual Fart:

“Bottom Boom captures a moment frozen in time, a moment of existence, an action, that can never be experienced in that quintessential way ever again. Bottom Boom is a study on ontology and the way it delineates our existence… The wonder of the body in motion meshing with time and existence, having awareness of itself and its death, the waste of lives ever moving in a cycle of creation and destruction. The ebb and flow, the yin and yang, the immorality and the morality bla bla bla bla…”

Yes. CR farted into a glass box. Or pretends she/he did. Or, more likely, got someone else to do the farting. Either way, so very ‘Hirstian’.
(Of course, I could add that this work clearly references and engages in debate with Piero Manzoni’s Merda d’artista (1961), but that would be talking crap, and we can’t have that.)

Serendipitously, (the Blessed Robert was surely guiding my hand by now) I then stumbled upon an ancient (2008) article from The Daily Squib:
“Arse Hole, by Damien Hirst”:

“The painting is part of the Hirst ‘Arse Series’ where he depicts himself as the contemporary ‘anal bullshit’ con-artist that he is.
“‘I aim to paint myself as limitless angular momentum in constant toilet flushing flux. My anal sphincter muscles loosen and expel hydrostatic equilibrium into the anus-sphere of existence and of course stick a dead fucking cow in there too,” Hirst writes in Arthole magazine.”

Tee-hee.
I know, I know…
Puerile, facile, really not helpful. Cheap shots, for sure, with far too much ‘arse’.
But Hirst’ll do that to you.
Anyway, I’ve spent the last fortnight in a state of Olympics-induced beatific magnanimity.
It was never going to last. 😉

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Because it’s Shark Week: Ten Fun Facts About Jaws by Holditnow.

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Just calling to say…

Hi! How are you?
Long time no see!

Yes, at least half my life has been put on hold while I savour The Greatest Show On Earth and thank God I’m not Australian. I’m no sports fiend, but it’s so exhilarating, so uplifting, to see anyone doing anything to the absolute peak of her/his ability, whether it’s winning a chestful of medals or recording a PB; in a world where gratification and reward are increasingly expected to be instant and involving the least possible effort, it’s a timely reminder that the best most often comes from long, dedicated, slow-cooking.

That’s Jason Kenny on his way to a gold medal.
I’m (morbidly, not pervily) fascinated by the sprint cyclists’ thighs. Who would win a thigh-off between a cyclist and a speed-skater? Where on earth do they buy their trousers?
Important stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I also want to mark, as so many have, the fiftieth anniversary of Marilyn’s death. She remains elusive to me, and, I think, to the zillions who profess an opinion on who/what she was; suffice to say, to a gawky, angular, too-tall, un-pretty adolescent she was a vision of what a woman ‘should be’: lusciously ripe, petite, baby-faced, baby-voiced, desired and accommodating.
Then I grew up.

By our youngest T’Art Club member, Dayne Britten.
Very affective, I find.

Finally, RIP the great Robert Hughes, whom I thank for providing my favourite ever art quote. Not this one – you should know which I mean by heart by now! – but it’s pretty damn good too, not least for being applicable to all human endeavour, not just ‘art’:

“There is virtue in virtuosity, especially today, when it protects us from the tedious spectacle of ineptitude.”

Speaking of which: nearly forgot: huge congrats to NASA!
(Why did I nearly forget? Why aren’t we more thrilled at Curiosity landing on Mars? Are we indeed suffering from what William Gibson calls Future Fatigue?)
This is MARVELLOUS!!

Again, as in the Olympics, people, just people, being the best they can be, through sheer hard graft and patience, at what they do.
If you don’t take inspiration from all of them someone should check your pulse.

So, somewhat bitty and rambling, but I just wanted to check in.
Back to cogency, sense (really?) and rampant disaffected cynicism next week when, all being well, I’ll be less distracted and emotional.

Take care, and speak soon.

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Really enjoyed this by Chris at Anxiety and Biscuits: A Very British Olympics…

See more of Dayne’s work here.