Brushes with Culture

This is a space where I can reflect on the many fascinating things that I experience. Some of the things I brush with are Culture with a capital C. Others are just intriguing moments. Sometimes I am brushing with these moments in a hurry. This is a chance to relive those moments in tranquility. These are the stories I tell myself in those quieter moments.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Making a Statement

Pizza Express in Dulwich Village has just charged me £1.10 for extra onions on my salad. Sign of the times when customisation is just the press of a button on the till. I wonder if sun-dried tomatoes cost the same. I wonder what happened to the restaurants where the waitress gives you a shrewd look and says 'I'll see what I can do...'

We are moaning about how aspirational South London has become. And where better to do that than Dulwich, which used to be bohemian? South London ...aspirational or shabby and, in some places, both. The two of us have independently decided that it is time to move on. She's been looking at houses. I've just been looking at websites.

OK, I concede I'm not really materialistic - I'm a dreamer: I still believe in society. And, like my supper companion, I value inspiration over aspiration (for goodness sake, we both like teaching!) So can we find a place to move that reflects those values?

Maybe nowadays all we can hope for is a web that overlays the actual places we move through; a series of connections among people who see the world the same way. Friends are rather far flung.

But friends, in general, continue to be more creative than materialistic. They continue to believe in doing something, not just getting their kids in to the right school. And thank goodness for that.

I've been having an attenuated exchange with an artist about a line I sent him: "Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say". It's the name of a collection of work by Gillian Wearing that's getting a showing at Tate Liverpool at the moment. There was silence for a while and then I receive:
i have been thinking about this for weeks. It is so relevant to so many of my students' projects yet it is deceptively simple. I like it because i think it goes beyond what other people think you might be saying and suggests that people only hear what fits their ideology. There is also a suggestion of power and linguistic control which I think is implicit in everyday dialogue and communication. This has been particularly interesting recently as I have been trying to write a statement for a forthcoming exhibition. On sending it out to friends I received a range of reactions which all had layers of their interpretation that met their ideologies, their agendas, which is okay, but it wasn't so much a misinterpretation but a reminder that we only hear or read what we want to hear or read. I think this is largely true of art. I thought I might send you the statement as you might enjoy it.

And it's the kind of statement that should be published. I don't know if John writes a blog, but I am including it here. I'd also like to include a link to the man himself as a tribute - after all, I don't want you thinking that these fine words are mine. But the first three John Hammersleys I google are a mathematician born in 1920, a writer of psalms and a young lad at Durham University, also studying maths. They are there in abundance and I get bored looking, and so, with no dressing but his own words, I give you the 4th John Hammersley's statement (with permission):

STATEMENT: JUSTIFIED, 12 POINT, HELVETICA

1: THE WORK OF THE ART WORK IS DONE BY ALL PARTIES.
2: THE WORK OF THE ART WORK IS ONGOING.
3: THE ART OF THE WORK IS DIFFERENT FOR ALL PARTIES.
4: THE WORK OF ART IS DIFFERENT FOR ALL PARTIES.
5: THE ART WORK REMINDS ALL PARTIES THAT THEY ARE
HERE.
6: HERE IS DIFFERENT FOR ALL PARTIES.
7: THE TITLE IS PART OF THE WORK AND WORKS FOR THE ART.
8: THE TITLE MAY BE THE WORK.
9: UNTITLED IS A TITLE.
10: THE TITLE DOES NOT NECESSARILY COME BEFORE OR AFTER THE WORK OF THE ART.
11: THE ART WORK AS ART OR WORK CANNOT NOT COMMUNICATE.
12: ALL THINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

HAMMERSLEY. 2006.

I haven't worked out what my particular ideology or agenda makes of it yet. It says nothing of costly onions, house hunting or the aspirations of South Londoners. I think I just find it heartening.

1 Comments:

At 7:48 pm, Blogger .Ann. said...

John continues today: 'I was interested in the onions. I don't know why it came to mind but I was thinking of the word costermonger and how nice it was that the cost was upfront. I too have been caught out with hidden surcharges for sauces etc. It pays to know your onions! COSTERMONGERS also sounds like the /cost/among/us/ perhaps with a midlands accent.'

I can't get anyone to comment on my blog, but their emails are illuminating. Kind of pseudo-commenting when you add them yourself?

 

Post a Comment

<< Home