Mick Hartley, in fine form, on the latest addition to the Tate Modern:
The concerns with racism, postcolonialism, difference, whatever, are all contrived and arbitrary impositions seeking to impart a spurious relevance to a self-indulgent piece of banality. If meanings have to be assigned, why these? Why not say it’s about the shortcomings of a two-party system, or global warming, or the Risorgimento, or, more pertinently, the need to get a proper structural survey done before you buy a house? We know why not, of course: these aren’t the kind of issues that resonate with the type of people who run art galleries.
But why on earth do we have to put up with this verbiage? Why do they insist on telling us how we should react, what we should be feeling? I’ve posted about this before, about what a joyless place Tate Modern is, how they encourage a mindless subservience to their – if I could borrow some of their terminology – hegemonic discourse. In this case – though not of course in the case of many of the works in their permanent collection – the answer’s clear: because the piece itself is worthless, and needs pumping up with distracting nonsense so that we don’t see how dreary it truly is. But it’s part of a more general concern that, when it comes to art, we should never be left alone to make up our own minds.
A phrase picked almost at random: Her work encourages us to confront uncomfortable truths about our history and about ourselves with absolute candidness, and without self-deception. There’s nothing I don’t hate about that sentence: the self-righteousness, the pomposity, the utter witlessness of it. It means nothing. It relates to nothing. What’s that absolute candidness doing there? Without self-deception? It’s complete nonsense smugly preening itself on its importance. I hate it. I’d like to take whoever wrote it, stuff them inside the bloody crack, and jump up and down on them. That’s how much I hate it.