Posts Tagged “Art”

07w51:2 Mourning the Myth of the Cultural Elite

by timothy. 0 Comments

An ode to snobs, and a rehashing of the PR of the previous GR:

The death of the cultural elite | Stephen Moss

// Comment: Consider the demographic of people who will read and care about this peice: a self-selecting group who are interested in the High Arts to begin with. And these from the comment thread:

gingerjon Comment No. 841691 December 20 15:5 London/gbr

“Have you ever read The Good Soldier?”


It’s not as good as Seinfeld.


Alarming Comment No. 841856 December 20 17:14 Manchester/gbr

This article would have merit if those who actually created art weren’t influenced by “low” art or vice versa. There’s no barriers except in the eyes of inveterate snobs. I can only assume there’s an episode of “Grumpy Old Men take on Culture” in the offing and the writer is making his bid to be included.

Stephen Moss ends his piece with this: ‘The great majority of popular culture in the UK is worthless, moronic, meretricious, self-serving, anti-democratic, sclerotic garbage: it’s the enemy of thought and change: it should be ignored, marginalised, trashed. There I’ve said it.’

All of those epithets work for me except the ‘anti-democratic’ one. We should distinguish between ‘popular culture’ and ‘broadcast culture’, since the examples of the article come from television, and much of what’s on television (especially those abysmal reality-shows) lives up to those insults. But not ‘anti-democratic’. In fact, they are especially democratic in that they appeal to a wide audience, and the dance and song shows actually encourage people to vote with their cell phones. If anything they represent attempts at cultural democracy. If they fail aesthetically, that may just be because snobs like the author, and other self-identifying elites who are more interested in consuming the pop culture of the previous century (I mean, isn’t Beethoven the Led Zepplin of the 1810s?) have refused to participate in it and bring to it their knowledge and influence it with their taste. What you have instead is the mess of a culture being formed from scratch by people without ‘culture and taste’, making it up as they go along, and over-producing a garbage to be later sifted through an evolutionary selection; what works will survive to become the next century’s classics, while the rest will be lost as it should be.

07w51:1 Myth of a cultural elite

by timothy. 0 Comments

Myth of a cultural elite — education, social status determine what we attend, listen to and watch

There have been a number of theories put forward to explain how our tastes in cinema, theatre, music and the fine arts relate to our position in society. New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, has concluded that there is little evidence of a ‘cultural elite’ that aspires to ‘high culture’, while turning its back on popular culture.

The research, carried out at the University of Oxford, aimed to determine which theory fits most closely with reality. To ensure the findings applied internationally, survey data was studied from the UK and also from six other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Findings confirmed that a cultural-elite, linked to social class, does not exist in society.

Researchers sought to refine the differences in the hierarchical arrangement, known as social stratification, of people in society. To achieve this, their work took into account the backgrounds of the people surveyed, including education, income and social class. Previous research in this field had used such factors interchangeably, but this project sought to draw a clear distinction between social class and social status.

Doctor Tak Wing Chan, who conducted the research with his colleague Doctor John Goldthorpe. commented: “Our work has shown that it’s education and social status, not social class that predict cultural consumption in the UK, and broadly comparable results were obtained from other countries in our project too.”

Using terms more familiar to those studying the animal kingdom and, in particular, the eating habits of animals, the researchers identified several different types of groups in society that ‘consume’ culture.

These included:

  • Univores: people who have an interest in popular culture only
  • Ominvores: people who consume the full variety of different types of culture
  • Paucivores: people who consume a limited range of cultural activities
  • Inactives: people who access nothing at all.

In the UK, it turned out that the consumption of culture is very clearly patterned:

  • For theatre, dance and cinema, two types of consumer were identified – univores (62.5% of the sample) and omnivores (37.5%).
  • For music, three types were identified – univores (65.7% of the sample), omnivore listeners only (24%) and omnivores (10.3%).
  • For the visual arts for example, art galleries, festivals, video art presentations, again three types were identified – inactives (58.6% of the sample), paucivores (34.4%) and omnivores (7%).

“There’s little evidence for the existence of a cultural elite who would consume ‘high’ culture while shunning more ‘popular’ cultural forms,” said Doctor Tak Wing Chan, “Furthermore, at least a substantial minority of members of the most advantaged social groups are univores or inactives.”

07w44:5 Dave Hickey

by timothy. 2 Comments

‘Now he teaches English,’ Sheila Heti writes in her intro to the interview with David Hickey, and this instantly reminds me of Richard Rorty, who I’ve been reading lately. (His Contingency book is so fantastic). Rorty, who was sometimes called the greatest American philosopher, ended his days teaching philosophy to literature students, having walked away from the academy’s philosophy departments. It seems that the literature department is the contemporary haven for independent thinkers. – Timothy

Interview with Dave Hickey | Sheila Heti
“SH: OK, so what are the supposed art magazines interested in hearing about, if not about art?

DH: They want touting. In twenty years we’ve gone from a totally academicized art world to a totally commercialized art world, and in neither case is criticism a function. We’re all supposed to be positive about art. Nobody plays defense! I mean, my job, to a certain extent, is to be in the net. My job is to mow stuff down.
SH: I suppose the schools have something to do with the change—the craziness that you have to get an MFA to be an artist.

DH: Thirty-five thousand MFAs a semester, 90 percent of whom never make another work of art.

SH: And do you think that that kind of system produces—

DH: Almost no one. Idiots with low-grade depression. When I opened my gallery in the late ’60s, Peter Plagens—who’s now the critic for Newsweek and still shows his paintings—was the only artist I represented who had been to graduate school. The MFA thing is an invention of the ’70s. Its raison d’être is evaporating.

SH: Which is?

DH: Training sissies for teaching jobs. Well, the official raison d’être was to create an intellectual and pedagogical justification for the most frivolous activity in Western culture, so you go back and read things from the past. It’s the traditional Renaissance desire that artists should be taken seriously, and that art not be a practical but a liberal art. But I tend to think it’s a practice, like law or like medicine.

SH: Right, and nobody wants to be a clown! No artists want to be clowns. That’s a shame.”

07w42:1 Conceptual Terrorism

by timothy. 0 Comments

Conceptual Terrorism
Conceptual Terrorists Encase Sears Tower In Jell-O | The Onion
“Tentative speculation that the dessert enclosure was in fact an act of terrorism was quickly confirmed after a group known only as the Prophet’s Collective took credit for the attack in a three-hour-long video that surfaced on the Internet. ‘Your outdated ideas of what terrorism is have been challenged,’ an unidentified, disembodied voice announces following the video’s first 45 minutes of random imagery set to minimalist techno music. ‘It is not your simple bourgeois notion of destructive explosions and weaponized biochemical agents. True terror lies in the futility of human existence.’ According to a 2007 CIA executive summary, the terrorists responsible for masterminding the attack are likely hiding somewhere in Berlin’s vast labyrinth of cafés. […] ‘I’m no expert, but I know terrorism when I see it,’ said Kathy Atwood, a Hyde Park mother of four. ‘Where is the devastating loss of life and massive destruction of infrastructure? This doesn’t move me to run for my life at all.’ She added: ‘Real terrorism takes years of training and meticulous planning. My 6-year-old kid can make Jell-O.’