The artist did a number of things including assuming vaguely marital poses with a fake sword, having her photograph taken repeatedly, screening a video of her climbing into bed with assorted friends and comrades and nimbly dancing around the stage. At one point, she wrapped a red scarf around her head covering her eyes, toddled off stage and groped her way to the seated audience.
She held a bottle of some sort of coloured fluid in her hand, spritzed it on the hands of audience members and then (did I imagine this?) proceeded to lick it off their hands. All I could think of was … oh boy, wait till she hits Andrew Coyne’s table who, from my vantage point, at the back of the room was situated at a table slightly to my right (he acquitted himself admirably considering the circumstances). But that was not the pinnacle of the performance.
|Finley doing her thing...|
George Orwell famously said “You have to be an intellectual to believe such nonsense. No ordinary man could be such a fool.” He was speaking in a political context but it sometimes comes to mind when viewing unconventional forms of art.
I will be the first to admit that I resist what I don’t understand and am quick to dismiss it as such. I wasn’t shocked so much by the performance (okay perhaps mildly alarmed when I thought she was coming my way with that mysterious fluid). But I did feel annoyed. I guess it was the childish, mental equivalent of strutting around a gallery pointing to the modern art and saying in a huff “Huh, I could do that!” That sentiment has always disturbed me because I think it’s borne of ignorance and lack of insight.
I am not proud of my cynicism or my resistance to new ways of presenting “art” if that is what this is. But I also don’t think there can be appreciation or understanding without education of some sort – an education that I must take on myself in order to interpret what I see (and don’t see) in a work of art, annoying or otherwise.
Initially published in an altered format on March 2nd, 2007 at descant.ca/blog.