In 2010 James Elkins, Art Critic and Historian of the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, wrote a piece entitled How Long Does it Take To Look at a Painting? for The Huffington Post. In this piece the author describes an encounter with an elderly lady who he estimates, over decades of visits to the Art Institute of Chicago, spent at least 3,000 hours looking at Rembrandt’s painting Young Woman at an Open Half-Door (below).
The basic premise of the Daily Mail’s piece was to prove via observation that viewers spend an average of as little as 5 seconds looking at works by important contemporary artists such as Rachel Whiteread or Tracy Emin in the TATE Modern. Their conclusion was that viewers do not like looking at modern art.
Paint forced out by the inflation of tarnished metal beneath in paper-thin scrapings like filmy slices of whittled wood. Chunky number buttons with finger indentations on telephones that crunch in with a satisfying click. Orange and dusk-red rusts on old bicycle frames that harbour a beautiful variety of lichen in an array of sanguine tones. Windowless stone buildings with determined blades of grass growing forcibly through the gaps in the cold cobbled floor.
On a very recent trip to the north of Ireland from my home south of the border, I was asked by a friend and fellow traveller if I had encountered any culture shock after crossing into Northern Ireland. She had never visited up north before, being from further south in the country. The thought had never struck me.
When I was growing up Northern Ireland was the place that scandalised the headlines constantly with news of the bombings and beatings and various atrocities of the ongoing war in that area, and also where my parents would go to shop cheap. As a young child the troubles were an ambiguous thing at the very least, and the mention of towns I knew quite well like Omagh and Enniskillen were just mentions of places where awful things happened, but they never seemed that bad. The money was Pound Sterling, not the good old Irish Punt, the post-boxes and phone-boxes were red, not green. Continue reading “Red Phone-boxes: Ireland North and South”
After deciding on the next topic for Moon Under water, i.e. the wonderful literary style of American author Cormac McCarthy, I decided to do a little research on the ambiguous public character of and found a piece online on The New Yorker’s webpage by writer James Wood. It’s an interesting criticism and a great introductory piece for any who are unfamiliar with the author. The subtitle for the article is “The sanguinary sublime of Cormac McCarthy”. I thought this far to apt a subtitle to pass up on quoting, as in assonance, double-meaning and literary style this is the perfect starting point for a critical reading of McCarthy’s later works. All I can say is damn him for thinking of it first…
While browsing a shopping aisle in a Tesco supermarket some time back I witnessed a young child sat in the constrictive rear-facing child seat of a shopping trolley. I would have passed little notice of this regular occurrence had the child not been in some consternation as to its current predicament. The young fair-haired boy wailed repeatedly at the top of his voice, to the pained facial expression demonstrating his busy mother’s exacerbated patience “I want to get out!”
It may have been the fact that I was on the way to the Electric Picnic music festival with my girlfriend, full of anticipation for impending youthful whimsy and unsolicited feelings of freedom from the rat-race for a weekend at least, but the repetition of the phrase, and in particular the context of uttering “I want to get out!” repeatedly in the anti-labyrinthine supermarket geography made me turn and muse whimsically to my better half, “Is that not the perfect social statement?” Continue reading ““I Want to Get Out!” – Supermarkets as Non-Places”