Nearly half a century ago in the Sheffield film school that is now a housing estate, Chris Malone explained to me his theory of creativity: take two disparate ideas and merge them. The trick, he said, is to merge the ideas so cleverly that together, they appear as one original idea.
I thought this was a good approach for the creative process.
Today, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park you can see how someone else thought this might be a good approach. However, they failed to develop their doodles into the subtle stage and their creativity looks exactly like two disparate ideas mashed together with no subsequent evaluation of, does this work?
It made me wonder which questions the artist did ask when evaluating the mash-ups: Will this raise a smile? Will it provoke comment? My guess is they only had one crucial question guiding them: Will it secure funding?
And where did the idea come from that making familiar things large, is art? It’s as if the artist took one idea (the gherkin) and couldn’t find another disparate idea to bolt onto it other than ‘make it big.’ They clearly thought they’d hit the jackpot with that move because they could apply it to every object that had ever been manufactured until the world ran out of space. How original.
We’ve reached a stage where the fatuous ‘anything can be art’ argument has become meaningless. This felled tree is roped off. Is that because it’s a hazard or because it’s art? Who knows? Who cares?
I’m reminded of bushes that have plastic bags of dog shit hanging from them. In the YSP they would be the perfect outdoor sculpture; audience participation: check, use of natural materials: check, visually striking: check, comment on society: check. If a working-class oik actually got taxpayer funding for this concept it would make front page news in all the red-tops — public outrage: CHECK! If I had the chutzpah, I’d make an Arts Council application for that idea myself, but I don’t, so I urge some young gun (preferably not a nepo-baby) to make it instead.
If nearly all the ‘art’ in contemporary art is in the idea, then just make them NFTs. It would save a lot of space.
Contemporary art is dead. We just need to blow the brains out of the zombie corpses that still funds it.