29 June, 2010

A sign of our times (2)

Today we read of an 'artist', Fiona Banner, whose exhibition in Tate Britain consists of two former RAF planes, one hanging from the ceiling by its tail, the other on the floor upside down, and ... er... well, that's it. She hasn't even painted them yellow.

'It is a timely and well-placed work, which enters into a dialogue not just with the decorum of its architecture, but also with space' wrote the Guardian. The Times goes rapturous 'the two vast war machines.. occupy neo-classical spaces...even as we deplore violence and destruction we glorify and celebrate its symbols' (soon you'll have to pay to read this twaddle).

At the same time we learn that a number of creative artists have complained that galleries have accepted money from BP. It claims that sponsorship programmes of companies like BP and Shell are "means by which attention can be distracted from their impacts on human rights, the environment and the global climate".

Oh dear. Artists are, unfortunately, dependent on sponsorship, and we cannot always certify the decency of the sponsors. Some of the characters from whom Michelangelo accepted money were quite unsavoury and, a first for this blog in mentioning them in the same sentence, Fiona Banner has put her planes in the Duveen galleries. Joseph Duveen is known to have damaged the Elgin marbles while putting them in their current home and lied about the provenance of several works of art..

But of course it is not general horridness which is being talked about here. We are expected to accept without question the prevailing bigotry, even to the extent of refusing sponsorship for the arts. It is climate change liturgy, and if Joseph Duveen had bought a plastic bag at Sainsbury's we would have to reconsider his eligibility to give.

My advice is: don't accept this tosh. Art and left wing ideology are and must remain different things. Go to Tate Britain and demand to know why nothing has been financed by Exxon.

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