I recently went to the Art Institute of Chicago, the best museum in the world.
There I received an answer to a question that’s probably been asked at least once a day for the past 35,000 years:
“But is it art?”
For that is what Kruk said to Kruk II the moment he had finished drawing animals on the wall of his cave. Bloody hell, Kruk.
But yes, hidden in plain view within the African wing of the best museum in the world was a simple answer to a complex question:
“What is art?”
Actually, you won’t have the slightest bit of trouble believing what’s on this mysterious video I found at Glastonbury.
The problem is, nothing gets read these days that doesn’t have a shameless click-baity title. I fully acknowledge that I’m part of the problem. By way of recompense, let me take this opportunity to make you aware of a wonderful Twitter account entitled Saved You A Click. Everyday, they work tirelessly in the war against clickbait, and they deserve every ounce of your love, your support, and your fear.
I found the above three hour TDK VHS at Glastonbury.
Did I mention I went to Glastonbury? I’m not sure I did.
It was in a basket full of free stuff in the beatific depths of The Green Fields. Handwritten on the box, and repeated on the cassette itself, was the word “Babaji”. At the time, I was told that this was an affectionate Indian term for a grandfather.
I’ve finally had a chance to watch the video.
What was on it? The answer will SHOCK YOU.
Except it won’t. Why would it? You’re not so easily shocked.
Somewhat Abstract is the largest exhibition of works from the Arts Council ever assembled outside of London.
For me, this exhibit was a big deal, as it enabled me to finally see Francis Bacon’s Head VI in the flesh, so to speak.
I say “finally”, but I only became aware of this painting’s existence last summer, when the Arts Council displayed various pieces from their collection on billboards and posters on roadsides, bus stops and train stations across the country. Still, it’s the sort of image that, once seen, can never be unseen.
This was displayed on a small, out of the way poster along Liverpool’s dock road:
Terrifying. Brutal. Beautiful.
Fair to say, I’ve been somewhat haunted by that screaming pope ever since I first saw it. How fortuitous that, within the year, it should be exhibited for free at a gallery conveniently located on my walk from work to the train station!
Though Francis Bacon’s painting dominates proceedings (for me, at least), there is so much more to see at Somewhat Abstract.
Read my full review over at FCK LDN.
This, I promise, will be the last bit of writing about Whitby on this site. For a while, at least.
Honestly, I spent less than 48 hours there and I’ve been wittering on and on about the place for weeks.
But yes, my first article for FCK LDN is all about the Whitby Museum, and the curious surrealist dislocation I experienced there.
Surrealist dislocation is quite hard to explain, but Breton explained it by way of a Lautréamont quote, who once wrote about a “chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella.”
By chance, you see two things together than do not necessarily belong together. This acts as a springboard for the sort of deep thoughts, ideas and free associations that might not otherwise have been made.
“The mind is ripe for more than the benign joys it allows itself,” wrote Breton.
The mind can therefore feast at the Whitby Museum, where fossils rub shoulders with arcane charms and steampunk augury.
Read all about it at FCK LDN, complete with many, many pictures!