21 October 2011

Turner Prize nominee discusses her work

Long-time readers of TYWKIWDBI will know that although I enjoy and appreciate a variety of forms of art (see the art category of this blog), I am frequently befuddled by some of the creations, especially the most modern ones, such as those that typically become nominees for the Turner Prize.

In the video above, the artist seems to be explaining some aspects of her work.  Here's the review from The Telegraph:
Only once before in my career (the first time I saw a work by the Chapman Brothers) have I been unable to formulate any thoughts at all in front of an art work, but that’s what happened when I stepped in the gallery in which Karla Black has made a landscape out of pastel-coloured paper, powders and paints. As you wander through its undulating heights and depths, your experience is polymorphous, like an infant’s – you feel good when you are looking at her work in a fuzzy sort of way and you may want to touch it or roll in it, but what you can’t do is think about or impose any rational meaning on it.
And that, I think, is Black’s point: she takes the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein’s work with very young children as her starting point, creating for adult viewers an experience that is precognitive and pre-verbal. Black is a sort of genius whose work I find uncomfortable at the best of times and threatening when it’s conceived on this scale.
Since it's supposed to be "pre-verbal," I'll withhold commentary.


  1. That's brilliant. You could just put that clip straight into a satirical sketch show and it would work perfectly.

  2. The reviewer did not know the meaning of 'precognitive'. And being rendered speechless is not pre-verbal-ness (forgive please). The installation is what it is, whatever that is. So why do I suddenly feel so good?

  3. well, I won't be withholding my comment: I know a piece of cr*p when I see one; I know a pile of bullsh*t when I hear it...

  4. I won't withold commentary.

    I wish I was the 1% of the people who could afford thousands of dollars to own something for the name. Because "Art" baffles me.

  5. I saw this artist's work at the Venice Biennale this year - representing Scotland, I think.

    Her work does indeed leave you speechless - there is nothing you can say about it that makes any kind of sense. There is no context, at all (context is pretty much everything, in modern art), there is no symbolism, there were piles and piles of dirt and chalk and cut paper suspended in the air, some of which was smeared with colours we were told was makeup. So... it's a feminist statement? Sorry, we dont really know how to explain it, said the Biennale interns.

    It might well be art - but unrecognisable as such to all but a few. I know what I like... and this ain't it.

  6. Sadly I think the fact that it doesn't mean anything says more about Western culture than anything else.

    What do we value in art, food, media, and political discourse anymore?


    Yep, nothing....

  7. I am an art warrior to the core...I must admit that while most contemporary art (this is not modern art; modern art falls between roughly 1840 - 1940) is baffling, it is only because it is not understood. Conceptual art pretty much killed any aesthetic in art and leaves you with only the concepts. This forces the audience to dig deeper and have to educate themselves before seeing a piece. Art is no longer in the eye of the beholder. It'd be like trying to understand a chemistry equation with no prior knowledge; does this make chemistry a pile of crap because I do not understand? Of course not. It means I need to educate myself further... Art has evolved past pretty objects, it had to.

  8. Anon, I have one question to ask you, and I'm not trying to be "snarky," but I'm one of those who just don't understand.

    My question is this: Is there anything (real or not yet created) you can conceive or describe, made by humans, that could NOT be considered "art." Anything at all...

  9. I absolutely 'get' what the Art Warrior above is saying - about having to educate yourself before seeing a piece. The symbols that could once be used to 'read' art are no longer as common, and new symbols are often unique to each piece. Once you know what they mean, the beauty and emotion in the work becomes apparent - but you may need to learn a new language, as it were, for each piece. This takes a lot of time.

    For a piece such as, say, Ai Weiwei's Tate Modern installation in the Turbine Hall - the porcelain sunflower seeds - on face value, its a shit-ton of seeds spread on the floor. Wow, but why? The more I have read about the motivations of the artist, what the work symbolises, and the context it was created in, the more I like it. Layers and layers and layers of meaning, which you do need to dig to find. But it is there, it is available, it is comprehendable, understandable, and as a result, the piece is probably one of my favourites.

    The art of Karla Black? Perhaps I have not learnt the language - perhaps there isn't one. It's very hard to know what she is trying to say - and if she isn't trying to say anything, is it art?

  10. Perhaps someone needs to write "The Art Delusion".

  11. @brentusfirmus - oh yes... but like Stan said, where is that line?


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