….wild is the wind…creative free speech is the seed….
Okay, so I was on the phone yesterday with a member of TR. We discussed the Kitten Defence League “mentorship” programme. This is a simple discussion we had. Don’t make a big fuss.
TR: “We have to tease out the idea of “mentoring” because old school graffiti artist work hard to disguise our identity. “
Yu 余: “With modern technology, you can use skype or email…”
TR: “Even so, even to one another we respect one another’s identity…”
Yu 余: ” Put on a mask? …Or you can pre-record a video response…there’s so much you can do…”
TR: “How about we say we “sponsor” cos we would never do that then people don’t take it too seriously and we keep it light-hearted…”
Yu 余: “Hey this is semantics. The point is Hayward Gallery spent millions to give free art classes to visitors but its all SPONSORED by Mastercard…so unless real artists with a genuine grassroot following are willing to come forward, you are going to have an entire generation of young artists GROOMED into
“Anyone can be an artist, all you need is Mastercard….“
That is way fucked up!
I don’t want to sit by and watch Arts-wash…it is like Green-wash, but with money ploughed into giving “cleaned up corporate images of art” just to make Globalisation more palatable to another Generation ! “
TR: “Look, we know. That iPhone application from Channel 4 had NOTHING to do with us. It was not under our marketing control. We think it is very funny that all these people are out using it, thinking this is how you become a real graffiti artist!
We don’t take it too seriously. “
Yu 余: ” You would get a lot more upset if people start claiming some crap done by the Marketers to spread their vanilla version of art were your original work….
I would slap them if anyone took my art work and passed it off with some inane message about: “hey watch more TV, we have cool “with it” stuff kiddies and if you use our application, you can call yourself an artist too!”
TR: “Anyone who knows what we stand for, knows that we would NEVER do something soooo Banale.”
Yu 余: ” That is not true, people don’t know if you don’t tell them! Since I released a joke image of my kitten with the word “kitten” tagged over it using that stupid iPhone application, people copied with some horrid results!
I know TR thinks the way I put things is all Toffey and saccharine.
..but seriously, I did that “kitty tag” to prove a point! I did the tag in the most stupid way possible and some still tried to copy!! Desperate!!
Unless we make an effort to “tell the truth”….you are going to have endlessly corporate sponsored Art …Artists have their hands tied behind their backs already because blah-blah European Union don’t want you to paint this or that because it might offend or Westminster’s Olympic Culture committee need the Banker’s sponsorship so you better not mess with any colors that do not conform to Corporate Identity..and while you are at it, You better start producing cleaned up reports that says BP is the most green-orientated MNE on this planet!
TR : “That is true. WE had some merchandising company producing a Team Robbo Tax Disk Holders for your car, selling it all over e-bay!”
Yu 余: ” Hahahaha. Omg! That is DISGUSTING! Did you do something? “
TR: “What? What the hell do you want us to do?!?!? Go and graffiti any car that dared to put up a Team Robbo Tax Disk holder???
We are busy!” hahaha
Yu 余: “hahahahahahhaha. NO! I would call the artists copyrights people and you know send them a letter…..???”
TR: “Er…..OUR art is on public walls. Its free …anyone can take a photo and turn it into something Banale…
there’s nothing we can do except to laugh at it.”
Yu 余: “There is something you can do. Tell people! Tell them that there are people trying to Piggy-back off your work , abusing others, “sucking out artistic essence” like horrible vampires…Do you want me to tell people?”
TR: ” You can. It’s just facts. “
Yu 余: “Fine. And you can’t see that is why some sort of ”telling the truth ” is the same as in posh-speak “mentorship”? We are just telling the truth and let people come to their own decisions. At what point does “Selling out” turn into complete prostitution where it’s not government but corporates that ask artist to Self-censor our art?”
TR: ” P read your blog. We are interested in the global humanitarian stuff. There are things in your charity work that we like, causes that we want to support .
We want to support it but also have fun and have a laugh at how banale the art world can market art.”
Yu 余: “Yes, a lot of commercial artists in China, with their very successful careers, have to donate their art work to human rights lobby groups anonymously …its very sad.”
TR: “Maybe you can do something that show their stuff in our next exhibition …”
Yu 余: ” I can try but I might have to have a chat with P to see if it is technically do-erable….”
(other chit-chats…end of phone call)
A contextual commentary about the “Big Society” Arts for 2012 Olympic :
Here Ladies and Gents, is the dilemma….those who can, are so busy, we don’t have time to breathe….those who can’t are also busy, copying those who can and somewhere in the gap, is the Marketers and Corporate Brandings, waiting to seize on anyone who can to produce something so that they can “clean it up”, reinterpret the message to how they want YOU to associate your feelings with their Brand and they are ready to pay a lot of money to make sure those who can’t and “copy”…..will follow their Visions of how art SHOULD be expressed…not from the Mind-stream of the Artists but from the pre-packaged, sanitized Logo-based Branding image of multinationals.
**YOU Decide if you keep wanting a world like this. Naomi Klein (whom I had the opportunity to meet in 2009) had written many books about Globalisation. Well, it has infringed into my art world. From 2008 Olympics where “anything was permitted” as long as it represented “Best of Modern China” and I exhibited with my fellow artists in Scotland made up of teachers who had taught at some of the TOP arts school in the country…we were still left on our own to explore the theme: “Floating . The price of prosperity.” We decided on that ourselves.
But would it shock you to find out that, under Tories Olympic 2012, the cleaning up and corporatisation process of the Arts/Culture aspects of the Olympic was so much worst than a Communist Chinese Regime who recently allowed the murder of Li Wang Yang. Furthermore they clamped down on every bit of artistic dissent by locking up Nobel Peace laureates, writers and artists.
So maybe no poet was given 7 years in Jail in Britain for writing a single line in a poem about “Jasmine” as in the “jasmine revolution”. But in some ways, the censorship are just as culpable, in the millions spent on art for the Olympics, I’ve seen nothing but Union Jacks and uncontroversial little “craft” projects. Punks were asked to “clean up”. Everyone had to mind their manners and present themselves as the “Anglo-british blighty mighty happy happy …” and we are not allowed to say:
“Hey, it is nice that Mastercard want to give free art lessons, how about letting these sponsored artists criticised the way the government cut school education budgets so in some schools, they had to use the staff room to give music lessons! How about allowing some less-than-vanilla voices of dissent..even if it does not suit the Vanilla-image of UBS or Lloyds or whoever that is sponsoring this Million-pounds building and filling it with “cleaned-up saaccherine image of 50s Union Jack nostalgia when England 2012 is made up of Babes of the BNP rubbing themselves up & down naked with Union jack flags espousing Racists comments in ridiculous EDL style: “Muslamic Ray guns!”…
That is the Reality that Art would reflect today in 2012 after the August Riot, after the global Asterity, after so many lost their homes and their lives are in tatters!
Right now, the month long “Anyone can be an artist…” at Hayward Gallery and other similar projects remind me of the installation in Paris where an artist ran around to all the dog shit on the street , putting on whipped cream and a red cherry. How much further do we have to conform?
How much more as artists do we have to let Corporate Branders dictate our Art?
How many more Bureacrats get to decide how cleaned up artists have to be before they tick the right boxes to get their fundings?
And as I write this, does this mean that my criticism of this Syndicate of Self-Censorship in the arts automatically excludes things I’d like to do from conforming to Corporatisation of my art?
Its not as serious for Team Robbo…they operate in a different world of graffiti art and have the luxury of being able to laugh at the inane infringements on their artistic vision.
Maybe that’s why I ran away from the Art Galleries and have worked hard to “do what matters to me” outside the Gallery, in hairdressors , at historic buildings, in bombed out churches….anywhere that is not of interest to the Corporate Giants (as yet…)
What I always admired about the peer-peer support of the Professional artists who could be considered the Vanguard of what would loosely resemble a Guild in each their own culture, whose support and generosity I don’t think I deserve but whose insiders knowledge I would Never want to do without…is that they hold fast the principles that “Art for Art’s sake” is not a bad thing, nor a snobby thing when it is done with the humility a genuine artist experience for his/her journey. It just means not pandering even if it means you lose the million pounds deal or the 5000 sqm2 venue for your Art. Don’t pander.
In the short term, common knowledge might think you are a fool….but history of art is made up of such torch-bearers. By refusing to “pander” to populism, artists serve the spirit of what Art, Sports, Music stand for MORE than by appearing in front of millions, dancing to someone else’s tune like an organ grinder’s monkey. Of course, if your art aligns with the core message of your sponsors anyway…go for it, afterall nobody expects any artists to starve…but I think there is a danger of compromising one’s art so far that one might as well be a paint-by-number-artist if you are not prepared to say No to certain kinds of bastardisation of your artistic journey.