Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Bedwyr Williams: When Artists are replaced by Clowns

"The people no longer seek consolation in art. But the refined people, the rich, the idlers seek the new, the extraordinary, the extravagant, the scandalous.... I am only a public clown, a mountebank. I have understood my time and exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession, this confession of mine, more painful than it may seem. But, at least, and at last, it does have the merit of being honest." (Pablo Picasso)

 

 This confession could apply to many artists today, but I will concentrate on one: the Welshman Bedwyr Williams. A product of the system of manufactured pseudo-artists, having been formed at St Martin's, his artwork displays a wealth of technical deficiency. The measure of an artist's talent, one remembers, is in his technique. This illustrates his technique:

 

 

Besides the oblique nod to Marcel Duchamp here, he has also similarly scrawled on a bathroom sink using different words to show his versitility. Perhaps I am being unkind. Let us look at his face masks from his Echt tour of Central Europe, which is when I first chanced upon this chancer.

 


 

Crudely made of latex and foam rubber, they represent an affront to standards of aesthetics and are symptomatic of the formative machine that teaches the fetishisation and worship of the ugly. The masks are neither shocking nor original, although Williams, in his ignorance even of recent pop culture, is probably unaware of this. The heavy metal band Gwar have been creating far more elaborate and creative costumes for their stage shows since the 1980s.

 

 

Look at the similarity between the face mask of the chap on the right and Williams' poster. Gwar was followed in the '90s by Finnish band Lordi, although Lordi's costumes in any case are more traditionalist, resembling more the Krampus masks of Austria.

 

 

Indeed, it would be interesting to know quite what the Austrians thought of Williams' endeavours when compared to their own more elaborate tradition, for Williams was welcomed to Austria by the Salzburger Kunstverein.

 

 

Unoriginality runs through Williams' work like sewage down a Chinese river. Listen to the well-worn puerile leftist clich├ęs as he explains his video installation for Echt:

 

It is for these reasons of ideology that (((Charles Saatchi))) has patronised this charlatan. Williams is lucky that he was born a Gen-Xer, for had he been born into the next generation of Millennials, he would probably have found the door to the world of pseudo-artistry firmly closed, the pseudo-intelligentsia having moved on to non-Europeans. Simply put, the likes of Saatchi would have found his face too white. The Saatchi Gallery in London offers this description of his work, particulary referring to this installation:

 

"Bedwyr Williams often draws upon the quirky banalities of his own autobiographic existence to develop his sculptures and performances. His work merges art and life with a comedic twist that is instantaneously sympathetic and relational. In Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Williams presents a display case boasting 45 pairs of used shoes. Not just any old footwear however – each bootie is Williams’s own whopping size 13.


"Inviting the audience to share in his own problematics of podiatry, viewers are encouraged to try the gear on: an act that invariably relays the humour and embarrassment of floppy footed clowns and sasquatch clumsiness. The importance that each pair of shoes was purchased second hand underlies the key themes of Williams’s piece – with the knowledge that there are at least over 40 other Hobbit-pawed souls in the world – Walk A Mile In My Shoes celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community; through the simple practicalities of footwear, Williams extols the values of tolerance and individual difference."

 

One notes the buzzwords of the Left here: "diversity", "inclusion", "community", "tolerance". For the Leftist establishment, any artwork that does not celebrate these values is to be ejected, no matter its merits in technique or originality. Pseudo-artists who adhere to these values are raised up beyond their merits. Indeed, as a rule of thumb, one can say the more puerile the better, for in this, elitism is subverted, and true artistry is innately elitist. This is why Leftist art was always on a downward spiral towards sterility and stagnation, because it was always on course to reach the lowest common denominator.

 

Then there is the sign on the "artwork" itself. Here we have yet another one of the Left's well-worn puerile slogans: "Before you judge me, walk a mile in my shoes." The saying is meant metaphorically, that one has to live the life of that person before one can judge them, to become them, to become the Other. This is the nonsense of such slogans, when one breaks them down, for one cannot become another person and one can only perceive and therefore judge the world from within the self looking outward.

 

What of the artistry of the piece itself? Well, one must ask where is the artistry? After all, the installation is merely a shoe display rack that one might readily find in any common or garden shoe shop and the slogan a mere meme that the artist has not invented. There are countless wittier memes on the internet, especially those of the Alt Right, but these are not considered art. Neither then can this.

 

Finally, we get to the purpose of this installation: the Left's obession with audience inclusion, which has derived from Roland Barthes' theories on text-audience interaction. The audience can try on the shoes on display....which they can in a shoe shop. Ah, but these are size 13 shoes. This is the essence of the Left: the Victorian freak show by another name, couched as it is behind inauthentic posturing about those outside the norms struggling against adversity - even if that adversity has to be invented. They invariably celebrate those outside of norms....except for those of extraordinary talent. In other words, they celebrate abnormality in being as a way of undermining the notion of normality itself. The difference between Right and Left is that the Left would celebrate Toulouse-Lautrec's disability, whereas the Right would celebrate his art.

 

Interestingly here though, the artwork's alleged inclusivity in the notion that everyone can try on the shoes deconstructs itself upon close analysis. What about audience members with even bigger feet? Would an artist with very small feet be excluded from creating such a personalised stunt? A stunt this is and one that mocks its audience even as the champagne socialists fawn over it, for the idea is not that the artist is the clown, like Picasso, but in flopping around in shoes too big for their feet, the pseudo-artist transforms his flighty fans into clowns themselves. The joke is on them. With postmodern pseudo-art, it always is.

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