Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I suffer for my Art

It took a mate of mine living about 35 miles away from Bath to spot this piece of local news (below)  about the current Bath Fringe Festival - I know almost all of the organisers and committee on the Fringe, and I never heard about it until last night. They have all kept unusually quiet about it.

The whole thing has raised some interesting issues, but maybe not the sort that the Fringe committee had intended. I now have to decide whether or not I have been engaged in an artistic pursuit for all those solitary decades without ever realising it?

A few years ago, there was an art installation in the middle of London which involved two identical buildings on opposite sides of the same street. The viewers were only allowed in to the installations one at a time, and when they entered what seemed to be ordinary flats they found - having crossed the road to visit the second - that the apartments mirrored each other identically, but in reverse. Each had all the same furnishings and decorations, but in opposite positions, as if reflected in a mirror.

The viewer would be drawn to the bathroom area by the sound of running water, and when they entered that room, they would see a man in the shower, just about visible through the frosted glass of the booth. The man would appear to be masturbating with his back to the viewer.

When they crossed the road and entered the mirrored apartment, an identical man would be doing exactly the same thing in the other shower, and every member of the public to visit the installation said the same thing - that they felt as though they were inappropriately intruding into someone's privacy. I'm not bloody surprised!

There was an amusing interview with the identical twins who were hired to be parts of the artwork a little later, and they both - unsurprisingly again - complained of the same things. Their skin would become wrinkled like a prune's through standing in running water all day, and they both suffered with cramp or repetitive-stress symptoms, even though they executed their duties in a somewhat listless fashion. I think they were allowed a little break between visitors, but they had to be on call all day for the arrival of the next one.

I bet that when they took on the job at the beginning, they thought it would be a doddle, but speaking from past experience, I know how tiring the whole business can be, even for shortish periods of time with a 17 year-old girl in the audience.

The Bath Fringe Festival has apologised over an art installation which featured film of a man masturbating.
The film was shown as part of a public exhibition at The Officers Club in Stall Street.
Ian Dore, who visited the gallery at the weekend with his 17-year-old niece, said the "hardcore pornographic" film was "absolutely shocking".
Police were called to the gallery but said no offence had been committed. The festival has since removed the film.
Mr Dore said: "Anybody could have walked in and seen it and there were children there. It was absolutely shocking.
"My niece was appalled and clearly upset, I can't speak for the others in the gallery as they had walked out."


  1. That man should have taken his daughter/son to see mona in Tasmania. My 13 year old son walked out of there with his fragile eggshell mind disintegrating and rapidly reshaping into something more interesting.
    In a good way, we both agreed, later.
    It's a fine line, yes?

    1. A Game? I had a look, but didn't get involved.

  2. The first two exhibitions I took my youngest son to were of Kinetic Sculpture; he loved them. Ever after he complained about works 'not doing anything', and his interest faded. I wonder what Mr Dore's 17 year old niece will be expecting in the future?

    1. What everyone else expects, I would imagine.

  3. A teaching moment (in the current vernacular) wasted.

  4. The story about the house being mirrored by the one opposite made me smile Tom. Our farm has two identical semi detached houses belonging to it. Tje only difference being the they are the opposite way round in the interior. When we were first married twenty years ago we lived next door. Then when the farmer's parents died we moved in here and everything was the other way round - it felt very odd.

  5. There was an exhibit I saw about 5 years ago at the Tate Modern where a section was closed off with curtains and behind it were dozens of sketches of masturbation. Almost child like sketches.Lots of people were shaking their heads when they left the curtained area. I remember at the time thinking "really? is it that shocking to you?"

    1. Did anyone say, "My 8 year-old son could have done better!" ?