Thursday, March 23, 2006

Achy Breaky Art

What ho, chums. I am really spoiling you with this thick, steady flow of updates that I be dropping on your eager upturned faces, yes?

In times gone by I would probably have worked in an unwholesome reference to bukkake just there, but no more. I am a better, deeper man these days. You are probably wondering what is the cause of this new puritanism.

Your Colonel has been getting a spot of culture, that's a why.

You see, having a spare day this monday after a rather fraught weekend (wedding update: chicken legs excellent, dancefloor/boot-knocking opportunities less so) I moseyed on into Newcastle for some haute couture and modern art.

The first part of this trip need not concern us here. Suffice to say that I love jackets, me. I eat, sleep, breathe them and the collection was added to this week.

Instead, let me tell you uncivilised heathens about the things I did see at the Baltic Mill Gallery on Gateshead's busy Quayside. You may have heard of this place, the local authority having spent about a billion and five quid renovating an old flour mill into a modish art gallery in an ill-fated attempt to win some City of Culture competition. This now attracts thousands of visitors who ignore the unorthodox art installations in favour of wandering about on the top floor, snapping pictures of the River Tyne and it's many bridges while going "Eeh, isn't the view marvellous up here".

Money well spent, then.

However, there is some art to be found and it's free, so I had a look around. The top floor had an exhibition by some dutch lad that featured little roofless house made of breezeblocks with some ropy "sculptures" and stuff in the rooms. One room contained two halves of a dead cat, dyed black. Another had some pegs hanging from a metal wire. Fearing this may have been part of an "hilarious" Dom Joly or Balls of Steel prank, I moved on, tutting to myself.

The next floor down had a whole bunch of paintings, cartoons, sketches and posters by American artist Kerry James Marshall, mainly based around the theme that America is racist and black people have it tough over there.

Right on, Kerry, keep telling it like it is. This installation gets the coveted "two thumbs up from the Colonel" award, which is roughly equivalent to three and a half Turner Prizes.

However, the main attraction is Spencer Tunick's collection of photos of crowds of naked Tynesiders. This work, it is said, challenges traditionally held views on nudity and privacy as well as social and political issues surrounding art in the public sphere.

It's great. There's tits, bum, fanny, the lot.

However, while I'm no Brian Sewells my main criticism would be that he should have put all the smart lasses at the front and the blokes and hoonds near the back or right at the sides so he could crop them out of the finished photos. Just a thought.

Also, while Mr Tunick is lauded by all and sundry for managing to get so many people on the streets, all naked and juxtaposing form with content like nobody's business I would like to point out that his work is not without precedent.

Throughout the nineteen eighties and nineties the british art magazine "Razzle" produced a series of photographic collections entitled Razzle Romps. Featuring between eight and ten female life models, these installations included raunchy trips to the seaside, saucy antics around the farmyard and a load of lasses holding their vaginas open while draped over a Ford Granada in a multi-storey car park.

These powerful images spoke volumes about the objectification of the female form, concepts of sisterhood and the relationship between producer and consumer of erotica.

Yes, old Spencer Tunicks may have had a larger number of subjects but a lot of them were all flabby, saggy and tatty, with spaniels ears,fried eggs and gammon hangers everywhere you look. The girls featured in Razzle Romps were all tidy boilers, the best that money could buy.

And they would lezz up.

Still, you pay your money and you take your choice. The art world is a broad church and there is something for everyone out there.

However, too much culture can be a bad thing for those of a weaker disposition. As I made my way back to the Haymarket I passed a theatre advertising a forthcoming series of performances of the Broadway and West End success "The Vagina Monologues" featuring, among others, Lisa Riley. I'm afraid that as the image of Lisa Riley, onstage, talking about her bodily treasures swept through my mind, the sky turned black and the world seemed, for a moment, a dark and unfriendly place. My mouth ran dry, my knees weakened and my lower lip trembled. Shuddering, I turned and fled in search of a restoring brandy.

It ain't easy being cheesy. Take care, my bohemian comrades.

3 comments:

Gentleman-hobbs said...

Good Lord Bukkake. You must have blue blood running through your veins. My name is lord Golden-showers, peer of the realm, and I suggest you flash the pink to tony or gordon and come and join us at the upper chamber.

Gentleman-hobbs said...

Noticed you hadn't posted - is that due to your failure to maintain a stiff upper lip in the last paragragh. I suggest you get yourself down to Madame Tendergrion at the dungeon on the park for a serious thrashing and a bloody good bottle of Krug with a G & T chaser and a damn good drain down

Colonel Knowledge said...

Hello there.

Forgive my rudeness in not replying sooner, I was busy being objectionable elsewhere.

Your writing style is somewhat unorthodox, yes?