online: 25 november 2004
modified: 23, 24, 25, 26 november 9 december 2004

23 november 2004 thinking of art and of everything

a chance play of two voices for radio, version 2

12:54 ...thinking of art,


i recall the realism of ancient Greek art and the sentimentality of 19th century art... (in both of which my father [born in 1880] believed - but in which he failed to interest me),

'WOE IS ME ...'

... and i recall the abstractions of Pablo Picasso [also born in 1880] and of so many other modern artists (which my father disliked but which I eventually learnt to perceive and to value)...


and now i think of post-modern art (no longer concerned with abstract shape but once more with meaning) which i still reject as being tied to self-interest and as being closed to 'human mind'* - but to my surprise i sometimes like things labelled post-modern (for instance the works of John Cage and Joseph Beuys) and 'chance plays' (such as this) have occasionally been thus labelled...

AUTHOR OF MY LIFE ... i contemplate these categories of art i wonder what i am doing, inside or outside the range of these immobilising labels...


...and now (as i try in this brief note to rethink and to rename the art of today) i feel that my own path,


and perhaps the paths of everyone,


are widening from the idea of 'path' to that of 'field'


...not an agricultural field, fenced in by its owner, but unbounded like the electro-magnetic fields** that pervade if not comprise the universe,


the first indication, perhaps, that the human mind (of both scientists and artists) is steadily outgrowing the distinctions of narrow self-interest


for the unbounded freedoms, dangers and excesses of 'the whole' of this existence, undivided. That is the excitement of our time (when not quenched by self-interest).


Having written this intoxicating thought I am going to insert, piece by piece, some brief phrases written on silver champagne straws that I saw at a the 'private view' of a remarkable 'show' of what i am reluctant to call 'art' - for those quoted words seem to limit, not reveal, the wider world we now inhabit, thanks to art, thanks to science, and thanks to mind before everything...

These are the longer champagne straw lines, said Tracey

...these particular works of art (by Gordon McHarg*** and Tracey Moberly) seem to not quite fit these old categories, thank goodness... and there are now some makers of art who are refusing the gallery world altogether!

The press release for the show appears below****.

*I'm thinking of Gertrude Stein's distinction between unbounded 'human mind' and bounded 'human nature' (or God and Mammon as she also calls these two sides of human existence).

**Field theory, beginning in the electro-magnetic experiments of Michael Faraday and in the integrative mathematics of James Clark Maxwell, upon which the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics are based... and which i now see as the basis of modern thought.

***Gordon McHarg organised the Art-Tube 01, artworks exhibited in place of advertisements in an undergound train moving below London. "I like the idea of putting the show where it wasn't meant to be - a moving gallery travelling 45 miles through London" says Gordon.

****PRESS RELEASE: Star,Spangled Sinners . . .

An exhibition by Gordon McHarg* and Tracey Moberly (nee Sanders-Wood) at the Nancy Victor Gallery Basement, 36, Charlotte Street, London... November 19th 2004 to January 6th 2005. Private view Thursday November 18th 6-8pm

Star, Spangled Sinners the ultimate in decadence or addiction takes an extreme look into the arts, music, performance and media worlds of decadent partying excess. . .

The artist Tracey Moberly heightens awareness of the "silent epidemic" of hepatitis C (HCV) as it is officially estimated to have infected 200,000 people in the UK (four times as many as HIV) and 100 people per week are being infected. This in-conjunction with the rise in the use of the social 'party' drug cocaine is seeing hepatitis C (which as yet has no cure) increasingly being spread by social drug use.

Contamination happens by blood from the nasal epithelium, caused by the corrosive alkaline nature of the drug when people share a rolled up note or cut down straw to ingest the white lines of powder through the nose.

Tracey has designed and cast a series of short straws complete with their own line to convey concern over the "silent epidemic". Each straw is engraved with an individual line of a poem along the length of the short straw and when exhibited together the twist in this section of the exhibition becomes apparent as the poem warns of the risks in the social aspects of contracting hepatitis C through nasal drug ingestion.

She also exhibits long silver champagne straws with quirky upbeat slogans engraved into them such as "AUTHOR OF MY LIFE..."

Gordon's exhibits include sculptures of the ultimate non-smoking smoking accessory - a pure silver "spliff" with over an ounce (of silver) in every joint.

He also exhibits "HIM" a life size wax work of Charles Saatchi.

Also on show is the Nautilus the previously unseen million dollar toilet, a porcelain replica of the Kings throne upon which Elvis Presley died.

More works are exhibited and most are for sale. Star, Spangled Sinners the ultimate in decadence or addiction. . . . .

Nancy Victor is a non-commercial space providing an opportunity for unknown and up and coming artists to show their work in a central London location. The space and its funding is provided by the design group Navig8.

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