December 1, 2017

"The block was symbolic of history, the history of art, which I am trying to free myself from."

"I discovered that it is not possible to free yourself from the history of art. It is a burden which I must always carry. That is the symbolic meaning of the marble."

Said the Belgian performance artist who was chained to a block of marble and spent 19 days chipping away at the marble before calling in his helpers to saw the chain.



I don't get the symbolism, which seems to be after the fact bullshit. He chose to get chained to the marble block, so he began free of it. And his ultimate escape came in the form of sawing the chain. What did the chain symbolize? He had 19 days to think about that. It seems to me that if he had succeeded in chipping the marble down to the level where the chain was freed, he'd still have the problem of being in chains and would have needed the same help getting out of the chains. But at least he could talk after an annoying 19-day experience.

32 comments:

Henry said...

He if had been chained to bullshit, he would have been free in no time.

Henry said...

Barring the chain, of course.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

We have to change :"those who can't do teach" to read "those who can't do act like assholes"..

Quaestor said...

Performance art is to Art as decaffeinated coffee is to Coffee.

Rob said...

It seems the artist was the weakest link.

tcrosse said...

Aretha nails it

Chain of Fools

buwaya said...

What he seems to have wanted to be free of is the need to have and develop artistic skills.

The sculptors who could make art out of marble put in a lot of effort to learn how.

jaydub said...

When I saw this I assumed the guy was Waloon, but he's speaking Flemish, and the Flemish are supposed to be the well grounded ones in Belgium. Maybe they are, but the step above the Waloons must be a very short one. Henry, above, has the right idea I suppose.

Billy Oblivion said...

@Henry:

Often the chains to bullshit are the strongest chains.

rhhardin said...

Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chairs.

Rousseau on office work.

jwl said...

wiki - A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that may cause suffering or a poor ability to function in life. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode.

Assrat said...

It's like artists are daring us not to laugh.

policraticus said...

What? He'd never heard of wedges?

madAsHell said...

It's only performance art if you believe it's performance art.

I'll bet there were tax dollars squandered here. Who paid for the marble?

jwl said...

Artists should learn history of art as young person, and how to do basic paint strokes, and if artist is good enough once they've learned basics, then they can forget all about history of art and do their own thing.

If you got no talent in art, you end of chaining yourself to marble for nineteen days and hum talking heads tune " .... you may ask yourself, well how did I get here? letting the days go by .... "

Angel-Dyne said...

The idea of "freeing oneself from history" (art or otherwise) is inane. Being immeshed in history is the human condition, part of being human. To "free" oneself of having knowledge of one's place in human time would be to make oneself a cockroach. (Or to have passed out of earthly existence into timelessness, eternity. But I don't think that's what the standard hipster nihilist is getting at when he yammers about freeing us all from the chains of history.)

If he was alluding to that truth when he said, "I discovered that it is not possible to free yourself from the history of art", perhaps the little stunt was of value (to himself). From the look of him, I suspect he wasn't.

Rabel said...

Poseur. A true artist would have gnawed off the foot.

readering said...

My nominee for most boring Althouse item of 2017.

readering said...

But then I didn't study art.

buwaya said...

To be free of history all the poor fellow needed is a Bachelor of Arts from a US university. This is a very effective, if not particularly efficient, way to remove all historical knowledge and leave a brain entirely clear of every bit of information prior to last week.

readering said...

Alas, I would know and appreciate more if I had studied with this guy:

https://www.curbed.com/2017/12/1/16723876/vincent-scully-dies-yale-architecture-professor

Freeman Hunt said...

"I discovered that I did not like being chained to a marble block. It was a burden I could not carry. That was the plain meaning of the marble."

tim in vermont said...

Maybe he was trying to demonstrate how reductionist performance art is.

jwl said...

Neontaster on twitter provided link to New Yorker story of a large woman who takes naked photos of herself in various poses. It is artists and their rocks kinda day.

"Her most formally inventive series consist of nude self-portraits taken in the New Mexican desert. By curling against the rocky ground, or stretching out along the edge of a lagoon, Aguilar makes the curves and shadows of her round body echo beautifully the shapes of the landscape around her."

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/a-mexican-american-photographers-body-on-display-and-invisible

Angel-Dyne said...

jwl: Neontaster on twitter provided link to New Yorker story of a large woman who takes naked photos of herself in various poses. It is artists and their rocks kinda day.

NSFL

(Not Safe For Lunchtime)

Tank said...

Needs a fake art tag!

gerry said...

Performance art is postmodern dreck. Who pays for this purulent crap?

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

Belgians are weird. They divide a pasture into small squares with ropes, then bet on where a cow will shit. That is a major sport. Then they have huge competitions where songbird owners compete for the title of most tweets in a god-awfully-long period, like an hour or two. Then big competitions over who can keep a smoking pipe lit for the longest period of time on a single fill. Hercule Poirot was the normal one--and he got out when the getting was good.

Martin said...

Somebody gave him a lot of money to pursue his "art." It might be interesting to know whom and how much, but that is all the rationale you need.

Valentine Smith said...

Did he juggle at least? Now that's art!

tim in vermont said...

I thought my "reductionism" joke was funny. Oh well, I guess I won't become a performance artist. It seems like the only people involved who were skilled in their craft were the guys who built the block and attached the chain. Hopefully they got paid.