Monthly Archives: June 2008

"Yes, But Is It Art?" Vol. I : What Exactly is Performance Art (and who put Theo Adams in the spotlight)?

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At this point I kindly ask that you remove any thoughts of the Blue Man Group from your head a
nd place them where I can’t see.

What is performance art. I’m not sure whether I want to provide anyone with a straight answer to this. Actually, I hope that there isn’t one. But this is not an investigation of the history / contexts of live art. No. This is my investigation of one Theo Adams (The-O), whom i-D magazine has dubbed an “icon” and Radio 1 labelled “bizarre”. I was prepared to write loads, but having watched his videos on YouTube I don’t think it’s worth the effort. This boy is so up himself! He is exactly what live art isn’t and shouldn’t be. He writhes on the floor, shrieks like a banshee and pulls frightful faces, all because he thinks it displays his “passion”. Passion for what, might I ask? There was a time when I had little respect for the likes of Franko B and Ron Athey, but this has now changed, all thanks to Theo. There is a very, very fine line between art and mock art.

The-O as published in i-D

Franko B: the painter

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Hundertwasser

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If I had things my way, we would all be living in houses designed by Austria’s own Gaud√≠.
I’ve been to Kunst Haus Wien twice and it never ceases to amaze me how humble the Austrians have been. While Barcelona capitalises off a cathedral that’s been under construction for like, 100 years, Vienna remains indiffrent to Hundertwasser’s completed architechtural (and not to mention artistic) masterpieces.

Is the Economist losing its edge?

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As a regular reader, I noticed that the new ads plastered all over the Tube are completely inconsistent with with my perception of the brand. The more I thought about it, the more outraged I became. Like with any brand, readers of the Economist like to identify with it for a number of specific reasons: intelligence, worldliness, knowledge. In the past, ad campaigns have been witty, engaging, and congruent with the brand’s reputation:

Then, AMV BBDO, the agency responsible for the campaigns, tragically lost sight of the brand,
resulting in THIS:

I actually feel offended. Thankfully, I’m not alone. Gawker says it all in their most recent blog post, clevery titled New Economist Ads Target Kindergarten Demographic: What, exactly, is the message here? Is the clown-and-stuffed-animal motif too clever for me to comprehend?

The same kind of panic crossed my mind as I scrutinized the giant poster in front of me. Yeah, I know: It’s saying that the stories may come from the most distant corners of the world but they’re always real. Is that really the point? And could there not have been a better way to get this message across than with words like cloud cuckoo-land? One day I’m paying ¬£3.90 for a magazine renowned for its credible content, and the next, I’m having my own intelligence undermined! The tone of the ad is patronising; it’s almost as if they’re speaking to a child. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something crucial has been lost here and someone better get it back before it’s too late.