Having become a curmudgeon, it behoves me to criticise art exhibitions that get my goat. One such travesty was the Lost in Narration art exhibition at the MAC in Belfast. A slow motion film following a rhino called Sudan wandering about with its armed protectors in the wilds of Kenya is one way to feel time dragging you down. Projected with surround sound on a huge screen gave this work every opportunity to impress. Sadly it did not.
Sensational visual arts can grab the headlines. I remember seeing a film at the Tate in London in which the artist filmed his mother’s deathbed and her dying breaths. All very shocking, but is it art? There’s a question that has become a parody of what matters.
Tolstoy took a long while to formulate his thoughts on the matter and put them in writing in What is Art?. He came to the conclusion that art had a purpose and that the aim of art is to be uplifting. The relationship between art, artist and viewer should be a sincere endeavour to raise spirits and endorse high morality. Leo drifted off brief and did not so much give a definition of art, as see art for what it could do for society.
Art can be shocking, beautiful, gross, perplexing but boring? No. I do not need to be uplifted, although some aesthetic experiences have been awe inspiring in their beauty. I am not insistent that art conforms to standard ideas of beauty and craft, but I want to be engaged in sharing the conceptual space and not feel that it was a waste of time and effort on my part, or that the artist had no intention beyond self indulgence.
By the way, the wee animals in the foyer of the MAC were gorgeous. The two kids in the bucket were my favourite.