Wednesday, March 22, 2006

But Is It Art?

I have never really understood performance art. As far as I can see, it simply involves doing something outrageous in public, which would usually get you either arrested or sectioned under the Mental Health Act, then declaring that it is 'art' and represents a protest against something - which apparently protects you from either of the aforementioned sanctions. All of a sudden, all the middle-class bystanders who were previously condemining you for being 'a bloody nuisance' are instead standing back, rubbing their chins, saying 'Ahhh, I see...', whilst nodding sagely and exchanging knowing looks.

This opinion has been reinforced by the antics of so-called performance artist Mark McGowan, who was recently back in the headlines when he was forced to shelve his plans to leave six taps running for several months as a protest against the privatisation of water, following threats from Thames Water. Some of Mr McGowan's previous pieces of performance art have included a pushing a peanut with his nose through lOndon as a protest at student debt, and walking backwards with a turkey on his head to highlight the issue of child obesity (I'm not making this up). All of which led me to wonder, if I was to publically shit in a bucket, could I claim that it was actually a piece of performance art aimed at highlighting the lack of proper sanitation in the third world? Perhaps I could get the bucket and its contents displayed at the Tate Gallery, where, with luck, someone might offer me a few thousand quid for it!

Personally, I think Mr McGowan is taking the piss. I know that his 'performance art' isn't his main occupation. Apparently, he is a builder by trade. I think his real masterpiece of performance art, is the way in which he, an ordinary working class bloke, has hoodwinked a bunch of pretentious middle-class pseudo-intellectuals into believing that these stunts constitute 'art'. In which case, I salute him!

If nothing else, Mark McGowan has provided every drunk with an instant defence for pissing against some alley wall on a Friday night - all you have to do is tell the magistrates that it was a piece of performance art protesting at the lack of public conveniences due to their sale to private developers! The middle class pillocks will swallow it hook, line and sinker - and they'll probably offer you fifty quid a bottle for your piss as a permanent record of your artistic endeavour!



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