What in creation is so important about art?
WARNING, philistine alert! Narrator and interviewer Andrew Frost uses this first episode of his second series about art to ask important and ever so arty questions about what art is and what artists do.
If you think art is about beautiful objects and interesting ideas created by people who express themselves through their durable creations, well, what a duffer you are, because art is about challenging the orthodox and exploring alternative identities, and so forth and so on.
Like the woman who flies to Paris so she can walk around the city with a sign announcing she is an artist as a comment on the pretension of the artistic life.
And the bloke who spends eight hours on a tennis court where he serves a ball, shouts: ‘‘ Come on!’’, Lleyton Hewitt-like, then walks around the net and does it again. One of his other performances consisted of him slapping his face for 45 minutes. Apparently there is a strong political edge to his art.
Then there is the multimedia creator who was inspired by the realisation that ‘‘ Jesus died at 33, but so did Bon Scott’’. Her work ‘‘ is about being bigger than who you are,’’ she says. Everybody clear on the artistic endeavour in that?
The show also features people who conform to more old-fashioned ideas of art.
There is a painter who produces hundreds of self-portraits using his experiences for inspiration. There is also an art academic who talks about Albert Tucker.
But mostly it focuses on people who are artists because they say they
Knows what he likes: Art critic and presenter Andrew Frost are and because other people believe them. Fair enough, too; there are no state-specified competencies artists must have.
But old-fashioned ideas that art can be seen and appreciated through time, that it has enduring interest and is meant to appeal to more people than the creator have no place in this program.
It all sounds plausible when presented by Frost, but it is hard to imagine many people wanting to view the works featured in this program. And sorry but, bore that I am, I can’t help wondering who is paying the man who expresses himself in a serve-a-thon.
Of course there is always the possibility this program itself is a work of art, an ironic yet playful comment on the multiple meanings of art commentary and the power we invest in anybody who can talk about theory and practice with a straight face.
Then again, perhaps we are supposed to pay attention to what Frost says because, well, he’s a critic.
After all, not only does he know a lot about art, he knows what he likes.