The Role Of The Tormented Artist In The Twenty First Century
Tormented by lack of critical success? Hate how your art genius is never recognized? Want to cut off your ear but don’t have a razor/pair of scissors to hand? Do a Turner-Prize Winning Artist Douglas Gordon and hack a theatre wall with an axe in a perhaps not so intentionally ironic response to everyone hating your misunderstood postmodern Little Red Riding Hood play. Onto the hacked wall of the arts centre housing the play, HOME, Gordon then drew a wolf claw in crude marker, linking this new art as a freebie tie in with his play ‘Neck of the Woods’, making it a multi-platform artistic experience, yah?
Will Gompertz (I am not quite sure how this man is BBC arts editor other than being chums with Alan Yentob) has written a piece comparing this act to artists renowned for destroying their own work: Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeoise, Luc Tuymans. Except these figures did it for quality control: something only the super talented can and absolutely should do. Gordon is not attacking his own work for quality control, otherwise he’d just pull the whole play and save us the torpor, duh.
It’s clear from HOME’s response that they’re equally unimpressed, billing him for the damage, and coolly whupping Gordon’s efforts by describing this earth shattering and momentous act as ”causing slight damage”. Talk about swatting away an annoying fly. In inimitable legal language that actually speaks volumes, their statement reads: “We do not support or condone reckless, inappropriate or intimidating behaviour and will work with our co-commissioning partners and artistic and producing teams to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.” I.e.: please stop acting like a total tool.
Whether a display of artistic freedom/exasperation/desperation, simple impulsive vandalism, or even a method of quality control if we’re getting all philosophical about it; what can’t be denied is the column inches now garnered for this production. When critics give a thrashing, do something inane to show how much you really really don’t care and garner tons of publicity. If it’s rubbish, it doesn’t matter so long as bums are on seats. Gotta keep the wolf from the door, right? Alongside Gordon at the Manchester International Festival is another ‘artist’ turned theartemaker, albeit a solidly more successful one: Damon Albarn’s Wonder Land , another postmodern take on a fairytale, has enjoyed popularity with critics and public. Looks like this Turner winning artist (1996 was AGES ago, man!) doesn’t want to be upstaged.
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