Going to the toilet in the Museum of Modern Art on the corner of 5th Avenue and 53rd Street is an intimidating experience. Is this where you do it? How can I tell that it is not just another PoMo art installation? After all, the entire building is brilliantly designed by one of those famous European architects with big glasses and large names. One longs for the days of the Australian outhouse: a hole in the ground, some paper on the wall, and a redback spider to provide sport and excitement. No one could really feel guilty about defacing that.
I have been to Art Gallery toilets in Sydney, Melbourne, and now in New York; and each time I do, my apprehension increases that I am part of an immensely clever conceptual-surrealist-dadaist-avant-gardist-whateverist joke: the security guards will burst in on me any moment now. It's a tragic consequence of the link between form and function: I don't doubt there is a link, I just wish I knew what the form and the function were.
Wandering through the MoMA and surrounds, this uncertainty increases exponentially. One sees a sculpture where the clay has been twisted and tangled in gigantic knots, creating a gigantic, porous ball. In front of this is parked a tiny clay car. The entire model is called something like 'Design for a Family Home'. I'm not sure whether to congratulate the sculptor for his penetrating vision or chide him for his overly-optimistic view of family life.
Picasso's working ladies of Avignon are there, still naked, after all these years. In the bone-chilling New York winter, I wonder if they wouldn't like to put some clothes on.
And then, in one room, there's the famous The Lights Going On and Off, by some artist whose name escapes me*. It consists of a room with the lights going on and off at periodic intervals; presumably it was shipped straight from the Turner Prize to the MoMA. (I wonder if the lights had to be turned off while it was being shipped? The artist could sue for vandalism.)
There is also a Chirico painting of a studio full of abstract, cubist sculptures; the sculptures are grouped around a traditional landscape painting of a house. One is moved to ask the deep philosophical questions: is this a portrait of 'reality'? What is really 'real', anyway? Why do I care? Will I have white or black coffee this afternoon? Can I go now?
One sees a window. But is it really a window or part of the architects design to showcase the building? It is the function of a window to let us see the world outside: but what is the function of this window-shaped object? Come to think of it, what are windows shaped like, anyway? Basically, I have no reason to believe that this window-shaped object is a window, anymore than that window-shaped table (as opposed to a table-shaped table, obviously).
One dissolves into paroxysms of anxiety merely by approaching a doorway. It is the function of a doorway to let you through to the other side. But it is not the function of a door-shaped object** to let you through, which is much the same as saying that this is a door that won't let me through to the other side at all. Basically, it would be like walking into a brick wall, and that would hurt. Artists may be sadistic, but I am not.
On the whole, I am beginning to doubt this form/function law. It's not fair: three blocks away from the MoMA is a Damien Hirst sculpture of a gigantic naked pregnant woman tearing strips of her flesh away, right there, in broad daylight. Imagine if I stood naked in broad daylight tearing strips of my flesh away! That's right: I'd be locked up. The whole thing is fundamentally inequitable. (Not that I want to stand naked in public tearing strips of my flesh away, but it's the principle of the thing.)
In conclusion, modern art is full of crap, communism is so very, very wrong, and I think I might go and see a Broadway show tonight. Thank you.
*In the way that names have of escaping you when you didn't read them in the first place.
** Whatever door-shaped objects look like, but let's not get into that again.
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
- John Bangsund's Threepenny Planet
- Broken Biro
- Poetry 24
- Superlative scribbles
- Kirstyn McD!
- Rorrim a tsomla almost a mirror
- More Sterne
- Cam the man from the Dan.
- Too hot to Raaaaaaandallllllll!
- Erin's Excellently Everlasting Effervescements!
- Slammy Infamy
- Hail Paco!
- Baron Blandwagon, purveyor of cyberbunnies, hawker of Roger Corman, and Misruler of the Multiverse
- The Bolta. Aiyeeeeee!!!!!
- Bad Apple Audrey
- The cartoon church
- Sir Martinkus
- A Zemblanian abroad and at home
- A hodge podge of hotzeplotz
- THE SLAMMA!
- Jottlesby's nottings, or should that be Nottlesby's jottings?
- The Snarking of the Hunt
- Jazzy Hands
- David of Metal City
- David the Barista
- The Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony
- Be an Opinion Dominion Minion!
- ... and Fel
- His brilliant career - from whale sushi to crumbed prawn
- Jo Blogs
- Yet another Tim
- Was two peas, now three peas
- ... Still Life - now with extra rotating cats!
- An Amazingly Awesome Australian Ampersand!
- Blink and you'll miss 'er
- Red in the land of the tigers!
- Wire of Vibe
- Chase him, ladies, he's in the cavalry!
- The Non-palindromical Editrix in Germanium
- Old Sterne
- The briefs...
- ... and the brieflets
- The Purple Blog
- Blairville, lair of all that is wicked and perfidious
- The enticingly acronymical CSH
- EXTREEEEEEEME WYNTER!
- Mark of California
- Silent Speaking
- Lexicon the Mexican
- ► 2016 (50)
- ► 2015 (106)
- ► 2014 (135)
- ► 2013 (173)
- ► 2012 (275)
- ► 2011 (261)
- ► 2010 (288)
- ► 2009 (290)
- ► 2008 (316)
- Several Unlikely Uses For a Ballerina
- The Fable of the Metaphysically-Challenged Street
- Larry, Curly, and Gizmo
- Notes Taken After a Walk Back From Fisherman's Wha...
- Geeky Blog Reference
- Virtual Utopian Community Riven By Petty Disputes ...
- Gawd, Not More Pictures, Please, No!!!!
- From Somewhere in Brooklyn
- Being Unavoidably Detained in the northern hemisph...
- Umbrella Story
- To Staten Island, one Pretzel at a Time
- The Arts of Modern Peril
- Fun Facts About Japan!
- Eaux de New York
- Pardon Me If I Do Not Live Up To My Usual Low Stan...
- Train Stations I Have Known Number Two
- Bow Ties, Much Better Than Tai Bo
- Paradigming the Dominant Subversion
- Places You Are In When You Want To Be In Some Plac...
- Position Vacant
- An Open Letter To The Emerging Writers' Festival
- Extrapolate! Extrapolate!
- Meaningless Ramblings for a Saturday Evening
- Oh, Goyous Day
- Learning To Share
- Comment Unpolicy
- ▼ February (28)
- ► 2006 (373)
- ► 2005 (287)