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    One mistake’s / All it takes

    Ooh, this is just too perfect:

    A cleaner at London’s Tate Britain modern art gallery threw out a bag of garbage which formed part of an artwork because it was thought to be trash, British newspapers reported on Friday.

    This is aesthetics in modern life: It’s possible to be a janitor who mistakes a bag of garbage for trash.

    Like a lot of other people, I thought Peter Bagge’s cartoon about modern art was pretty accurate, entertainingly raising points that one would have hoped were self-evident but unfortunately are not.

    One of the reasons disturbing, unattractive art can be powerful is that it also seduces you with form, line, and color. It makes you weigh the degree to which you can trust sensory appeal over content, and that can be edifying in and of itself. Maybe I’m just fusty, but I find it hard to imagine looking at a bag of garbage on a table and thinking anything other than, Hey, that reminds me. Did I replace the bag in the little pail by the vanity? I always forget that one, and then I’m standing there with a tissue in my hand, and…. I mean, making art that forces us to look at everyday objects in a new way is a truly valuable undertaking, but we don’t seem to be talking about Louise Nevelson here.

    In any case, we can all rest easy. A new bag of trash garbage has been substituted:

    The newspapers said the spokesman would not reveal how much the bag had cost to replace.

    I should say not. If I recall correctly, the Tate is at least partially publicly funded.

    Added after a bracing cup of tea: I’ve corrected the reference to a “bag of trash” toward the end of the post; as the article made clear, it was a bag of garbage that was thought in error to be trash. Nothing like exposing my philistinism to the world!

    2 Responses to “One mistake’s / All it takes”

    1. Toren says:

      The janitor should claim to be a performance artist and ask for funding.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I think you’d have to incinerate a Gainsborough to be considered a performance artist.