Wednesday, September 22, 2004

After reading Oliver Kamm's review of this revival of Mozart's Don Giovanni, I got to thinking about something Hal said to me regarding a number of works we saw at an exhibition of local artists, in Provincetown, MA. So many of the artists had incorporated various body fluids/excretions into their works that he declared that the new 'subversive' media would eventually be acrylics, oils, watercolors, etc.

I've always been annoyed by two things here: First the use of shock to compensate for a lack of technic, creativity, originality. Secondly, the defense (which range from clueless to downright insulting) or excuses made for this sort of work by the groups that support it.

I have always considered art as not just to challenge the mind but elevate the spirit. Would I have made the decision to go to college rather than business/secretarial school without my La Musique to contemplate at the Albright Knox? Probably, but I do know that what I knew of Matisse and the Fauves had considerable impact on my tastes and the disciplines I did manage to get some formation in. I'd like to think, too, that that minx in blue holding the guitar is a model for my personality and comportment to a certain extent. Heaven help me if they'd ever decided to replace this work with something like Serrano's Piss Christ.

When groups claim (like the ENO) that they are trying to move away from the 'stuffy, middle class, boring' image of certain artforms (in this case opera), that they are trying to make these forms 'more accessible' to people, I wonder first, who has the image of opera of being stuffy and boring? Perhaps the people in the organisation making these statements? I also find it incredibly insulting, this notion that the art needs to be dumbed down with sex, scatology, drugs, whatever to the level of the philistines that they are trying to get to fill the concert hall. I wonder if they have any idea as to how detrimental all of this is to their cause.

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