Finally, I toured Museum London. Many local artists have works on display and London-born artist Ron Martin has some beautiful paintings there. His huge all-black abstracts are stunning. I’m a new fan.
Part of the point of art is to provoke thought and emotion so the creators of Inertia would probably, smugly, think they’re doing just that by prompting this rant about their short film. That’s not true. Because what Inertia does is prove anyone right who thinks the arts community is a pretentious collection of government-funded fools.
Inertia is being shown on a flat-screen TV as part of an exhibit dedicated to motion and speed. It is a black and white film composed entirely of a close-up of a woman’s crotch. She is obviously a brunette, if you get my meaning, wearing flimsy white panties. She appears to be on a roller coaster or there is a very powerful fan positioned between her feet. The film, which is about 3 or so minutes in length, is a static shot of her skirt blowing up from the wind and her occasional, failed attempts to push the skirt down against the strong wind. Her full panty area is visibile, front and centre, throughout. The camera doesn’t move. We don’t see anything higher than her waist. That’s all there is to it and there’s nothing subtle about it.
When the credits rolled, five people were mentioned; four to make the film and one “performer”. The film was produced thanks to a government arts grant, although it didn’t appear to have been a Canadian production.
I wish I could tell you how angry this piece made me. What a load of bullshit tied up in a pretty bow and delivered for public consumption. The filmmakers will say they succeeded in their quest to inspire emotion but I’ll respond that a dead rat inspires emotion too and that doesn’t make it art.
This is what keeps people from making a museum their first choice for spending a free afternoon. It’s not that they don’t like to see beautiful artwork, of which there is plenty at Museum London, but it’s ridiculous decisions like this, to include exploitative footage as if it had some meaning about the world around us. It’s the exact opposite of inclusive and it says to the normal appreciater of art, “You don’t belong here because this makes no sense to you.”
Do you remember the painting Voice of Fire?
This 18-foot 1967 work by American artist Barnett Newman was purchased by our National Art Gallery in Ottawa for $1.8 million dollars. It’s three evenly-spaced stripes and two of them are the same colour! Where’s the talent? That’s what most Canadians asked, in the storm of controversy that followed.
I’m asking the same about Inertia. What does it show about a curator who would give wall space to such a thing or a government that would fund it? I wanted to know what the two groups of children thought when they saw it yesterday. None of them was over the age of 10, I’d wager. But they were still on the main floor when I was leaving my pointed comments in the guest book, so I didn’t wait to find out.