March 20, 2004

Dada in Canada. What do they give high artistic awards for in Canada these days? Well, according to the NYT, Istvan Kantor got $12,000 for doing things like this:
a video showing two performers slashing the throats of two cats and wearing their bleeding bodies as hats (to express his rage at pet lovers who are hardened to their fellow man) and staging the burning of a car filled with white rats.

Good thing he's concerned about humanity. As one prof puts it, he "files a grievance for underdogs, people who are homeless and displaced." Let's kill dogs for the underdogs!
Born in Hungary in 1949, Mr. Kantor is recognized as the founder of Neoism, an international anarchist art movement that some critics liken to an updating of the Dadaism of Marcel Duchamp, who once declared that anything you called art was art.

"What are the limits?" Mr. Kantor asks matter-of-factly. "There are probably no limits. Art is very dangerous."

It should be seen as inherently impossible to "update" Duchamp, whose original insights already implied all the permutations of dadaism and made actually doing them unnecessary. He withdrew from producing more of his own work, because he perceived that, so people who are claiming to build on his work are frauds. Worse, they are boring. They resort to doing shocking things to cover up this boringness. The crimes they commit to attempt to be interesting as artists may be interesting crimes, but we need to realize that our fascination with crime and violence is independent of art. Those who claim credit for themselves as artists because they are producing shock and outrage are engaging in a very old scam.

Kantor has a new video:
[H]e says it exposes "the post-Orwellian technological society in which everyone is under surveillance and everyone is using transmission systems like computers to send information out to everybody."

Well, I'm about to transmit this message out to everybody: that insight of his is too trite to be expressed in casual conversation, let alone to be the subject of a long, pretentious video.

He's some typical artist-blather:
"You have to be an anti-Neoist to be a Neoist," he said in his typically satirical, dialectical sort of way. "It was very important for Neoism to get rid of all the artistic language of space and time and introduce a different language that was more using state and military and religious expressive terms that had been alien to art before, to subvert, to provoke, to ridicule, to make fun of that very used and abused language of art."

Pressed to explain, he added, "There's not just a bit of destructiveness in this. There's a lot."

All right, enough of that. That reminds me of that horrible and idiotic comment someone made after 9/11, calling the attack a great work of art.

Ah, wait, this is familiar: "He started his artistic career in Budapest in the late 1960's, founding a band of musicians who played only instruments they had not been trained to play." Isn't that Throbbing Gristle? No, I guess a lot of people came up with that idea.

Hmm... Googling "Throbbing Gristle" got me to a reference to a Village Voice article from 1988 called "The Triumph of Neoism: The Last of the Old-Fashioned Avant Garde Makes Its Stand"! Yet still it survives and is rewarded in Canada!

No comments: