Thursday, 9 April 2009

Does it matter who makes art?

Does it matter who has made a piece of art? Should an artwork be judged purely on it's aesthetic merits or does it matter who the person behind the picture is? Such questions have vexed the artworld for years with vast sums of money often changing hands for art reputed to be by a famous artist which later turns out to be a forgery. This conundrum is made all the more interesting when morals are mixed with our aesthetical value judgements as has recently been highlighted by the story below.

Every time I've been into the Royal Festival Hall lately I've been showing people this amazing paper sculpture. It's an entire orchestra of 3" men and women performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony - the sheet music of which they are made. It stands on the plinth which has a small plaque explaining that the work was done by a guest of Her Majesty who committed a serious offence.

A message from the artist states: “Without this opportunity to show our art, many of us would have no incentive, we would stay locked in ourselves as much as the walls that hold us.”

It's often struck me how creativity such as this can overcome our preconceptions and influence our judgement of character. How could someone that can produce something as beautiful as this be a bad person?

But how would you feel if they were a child sex murderer who raped and killed two schoolgirls, and is using his artistic talent and achievements in an attempt to win immediate release from a life sentence he received in 1988? Not only that but he's going to profit from the sale of his work to the RFH where it is admired on public display?

Well according to The Times yesterday, that's exactly what has happened with the fittingly named Colin Pitchfork revealed as the artist. What do you think now? Apparently the RFH didn't know before they bought the work for £600. Does this change anything though? Can creative talent be a signal of rehabilitation? And what about the families of the victims?

In this instance I feel that Mr Pitchfork has every right to have his work remain on display - it has been selected on the merits of the craft alone and is a beautiful object. Whether he should be let out any earlier though is a much more complex issue.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

G20 - end of day 1

Well it's all turned out rather predictable on the G20 front. First of all everyone panicked and businesses took precautions - it's a shame that as with anything it is the small businesses that will lose out most.

Most of the day appears to have gone peacefully, barring a few idiots smashing a RBS branch while kettled in by The Bank of England (the RBS knew they had it coming).. oh and the police doing their usual tactics of pushing people around in order to maintain control, thus sparking 'scuffles' which have left injured on both sides. I can sympathise with both - it can't be a lot of fun feeling outnumbered on the police frontline, but then it's not a lot of fun to be beaten with truncheons either.

The media coverage has been interesting and varied. Comment pages in London papers have been full of people annoyed at the inconvenience caused and idiots who have a tendency to go on about 'unwashed hippies' and 'unemployed layabouts' and obviously haven't read any of the in depth coverage that has taken place. On the other side of the coin many demonstrators have voiced some articulate explanations, although I'm sure not all who are out have a complex understanding of the reasons why they have lost their jobs or homes.

Stupid comment award goes to Daniel Finkenstein in The Times today for his failure to understand what many see as the problem with consumerism and corporate culture and instead tried to simplfy the issue as 'shopping.'

The same paper also wins my coverage of the morning award, not only with an excellent essay in response to a previous similarly stupid comment but also a hilarious eye spy game for all those in the city - 10 points for a banker or protester in disguise! There have also been some hilarious photos of afore said disguises.

On the photo front, The Guardian has some great shots of the more confrontational side of things:
and also have very good coverage on the ground:

Don't forget to check Indymedia London for the latest:

I'll leave you with this quote - my thoughts are with all at the Climate Camp kettle right now...

From indymedia:
19:15 - Climate Camp: Police have attacked on the South Side of the camp, indiscriminately beating people who are holding their hands up. Police claim it is to contain the camp as many parts of the city are out of control.

From Guardian:
Rebecca Pearse, of the Legal Observer Collective, who said they worked with police to provide a witness of events, said that until the police moved in "it had been all sunshine, smiles, cake , food and drums. Then it just escalated."

Ho hum