Monday, October 03, 2005

Art For Arts Sake

Art for Arts Sake
Monday 3 October 2005

"Art is inconcievable without risk..without freedom and boldness of imagination.Real art comes as a surprise.You cant foresee the unpredictable, or regulate the unruly" Boris Pasternak

I was reminded of this passage last Saturday when i saw a small exhibition of Pop Art at a local gallery.All the heavy weights were there Hockney,Lichtenstein and of course Warhol.
Pop Art or "popular art " began in the 1950s and 60s as a reaction to the more obscure less accesible movements. On display were not only paintings or huge canvas prints (one with Lichtensteins trademark dots was almost hypnotic ) but there were also steel sculptures,collages a refrigerator packed with metallic foodstuffs and an installation labelled Civilisation 2..an accumulation of garbage packed into a clear waist high plastic box.
The last exhibit was a reclining nude couple done in all too realistic plaster and resin which drew a lot of interest from the curious crowd.
Overall an interesting show but i felt it was somewhat dated.Maybe it was shocking in the 60s some of it seemed passe .Maybe because some of the works have become so well known and part of every day life it no longer comes as a surprise and as relevant or challenging as it was once.
The Dictators
The Pasternak quote comes from Richard Overys excellent history of Hitler and Stalin titled "The Dictators".One of the chapters deals with Cultural Revolutions in both Russia and Germany.It describes in detail the efforts of both regimes to control art, culture and its expression through political regulation and centralisation.
In Germany for example a Reich Chamber of Culture was set up which was divided into 7 subordinate chambers which were further divided into further areas of control.Thus the Chamber of Visual Arts had control of a Chamber of Landscaping.
As well as government regulation, censorship and purges were used to control what the state saw as culture.Hundreds of artists,film directors ,writers were excluded from membership of state regulated organisations in both countries.Papers were closed down,books ,music were vetted.On the other hand state patronage was given to those whose work promoted each systems cultural outlook.Each state actively used the relatively new media of film and radio to literally broadcast its view to its population.
I'll give a more detailed review of the book in the near future when ive had time to digest it.
The Broken Umbrella
This is the name of a small Japanese eatery in Tajimi where I work.Taken there one night last week.Off a sidestreet past a pachinko parlor you enter a gap in a wooden wall about half the size of a normal door.No signage. Just a broken bamboo umbrella hence the name.
Upon entering we were warmly greeted by the two women proprietors.The small interior is U shaped in configuration.Customers sit on cushions round the outside while the women serve drinks and cook inside the U shape.Dark painted pine and shelves laden with customers numbered bottles pass as interior design and decoration.Local pottery dishes are used for crockery.On the U shaped wooden counter food is set out.Fish with their glazed eyes and gaping mouths stare at you from one end while fresh clumps of mushrooms,vegetables and meat crowd and vie for your attention.In the background muted jazz plays.I settled for some kebahs of grilled pork and onions and a large bowl of mushrooms sauteed in butter and ginger.Very friendly and comfortable atmosphere despite my lack of Japanese and surprisingly cheap compared with similiar places in the big smoke of Nagoya.
Movies
Watched The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.Wes Andersons latest offering.A pisstake of Jacques Cousteau and his TV marine documentaries.On a deeper level it might be seen as a modern Moby Dick with Bill Murray as Ahab chasing his own whale in this case a Jaguar shark.Like the Royal Tenebaums its also about relationships...family,paternal and general.
One of my favorite scenes involves the antics of a killer whale performing in the background of a scene with Murray and Blanchett.Its very difficult to concentrate on the conversation as the whale performs various tricks and barrel rolls.
The soundtrack involves one of the sailors performing David Bowie standards in Portugese while some of the marine animals are animated surrealistic creations.Both these things add to the quirkiness of the movie.a strong cast including Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum hamming it up.I also liked Angelica Hustons character as Zissous ex-wife.T
The DVD has a commentary with Anderson and some other people involved with the film.Its somewhat difficult to hear at times as its done in a restaurant where they worked each day surrounded by other noisy diners.There are though some interesting insights into characters and some observations on Proust which seems somewhat highbrow in these days of "The Dukes of Hazzard" and its ilk.
Random Thoughts
My horoscope last Sunday said i should end "unproductive friendships".Got me thinking.What qualifies as an unproductive/productive friendship.Can you quantify,cost analyse a friendship?
Can you make a profit and loss account, a financial statement?
Credit or debit the drinks and presents you have showered and shouted friends.Do a cost benefit chart? Do friends gain value over time? Can I write off a failed relationship as a tax loss.Do friendships appreciate or depreciate over a tax year?
Can I write some friends off as charity cases? Are they tax deductible?Should I send a monthly statement or invoice those friends who made me wait and waste my time? Do I send out final notices that friendship services will be terminated in 30 days should payment not be forthcoming?
What amounts to a productive friendship?The reinforcement of your own biases,prejudices and conceited opinions by other like minded idiots?The knowledge that someone shares your own skewered views?
I think it Gonna Rain
Scavenging in the local used cd shop happened upon a Jools Holland and Friends cd.Amazing some of the stuff that winds up here..ive found some rare New Zealand material on the shelves.Anyway theres a nice cover by David Gray...mournful comes to mind.
Weatherwise its finally decided its autumn and abruptly dropped the temperature by 5 degrees.Its probably the most pleasant time of the year bar the early days of spring.No more cockroaches and lower humidity make for better sleeping patterns.I seem to have survived another summer here with some vestige of sanity.Another postive is the variety of food available in season the mushrooms and nashi pears are probably my favorite though the local oranges or mikans run a close third.
Mac Attack
Still looking at getting an Apple G4 IBook.Went to the Apple Shop and got another quote.Only 188,000 yen.Six months ago I was quoted 230,000 yen and that was without the new Tiger o/s.
Having only used Windows Im not sure if i can make the jump and handle the innovation.Its my own kind of cultural revolution in a sense.....

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