In Praise of Ter­ri­ble Art

Broken Pencil - - Table Of Contents -

Art ex­ists on vast, ever-ex­pand­ing and sub­jec­tive con­tin­uum. Some might ar­gue that it's im­pos­si­ble to cat­e­go­rize art as sim­ply “good” or “bad”. Oth­ers — those who lurk the paint­ings aisle at Value Vil­lage, for ex­am­ple, or the weirdos who plumb the depths of every out­sider artist cat­a­logue out there, or ev­ery­one who works at Bro­ken Pen­cil — might ar­gue that there is in­deed such a thing as bad art, and it can be to­tally glo­ri­ous. En­ter a group of sick and ge­nius minds based in Lon­don, O.N. who work for Lon­don Fuse (the city's alt-weekly) and the an­ti­quar­ian book­store Brown & Dick­son, who col­lec­tively came up with the idea of the Bad Art Fes­ti­val, hap­pen­ing in late June in the glut of the city's fes­ti­val sea­son. “We all share a love of bad cul­ture,” says Brown & Dick­son co-owner Ja­son Dick­son. “For me, bad art is some­thing that aims to be in­cred­i­ble but just to­tally misses the mark. Bad art is as unique as great art. It is easy to make some­thing that is just all right. Truly bad work is kind of rare.” The fes­ti­val has ac­cepted sub­mis­sions of art in all medi­ums, in­clud­ing bad writ­ing, bad spo­ken word, bad mu­sic, bad po­etry and of course, bad paint­ings and pho­tog­ra­phy, most of which was dis­played and auc­tioned off in a cash-free ex­change of other bad items (ie dead tech­nol­ogy, bad recipes, etc). The fes­ti­val hosts are not ex­empt from the fes­tiv­i­ties — Dick­son, a writer, ad­mits that “99 per cent of my work is just aw­ful” and read some choice pieces of po­etry. He says the pur­pose of the fest is to pop the bal­loon of artis­tic self-im­por­tance. “Ul­ti­mately this thing is sup­posed to be a riot,” he says. “There is some­thing weirdly heart­warm­ing about shar­ing bad art with some­one. It is like shar­ing juicy gos­sip.” (Alison Lang)

Above: Bad dog art (from the pri­vate col­lec­tion of Ja­son Dick­son)

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