Scoville Units Unite

05 Jan

The Glasgow Effect Effect

Social Media has been in uproar over the Glasgow Effect.

An artist has been given a £15K grant to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic..

There are a number of issues with it, mainly that it is named the Glasgow Effect, which clashes with a phenomenon related to poverty in Glasgow, so it rankles a fair bit.

I think the biggest issue that caused the controversy though is that is labelled an art project.

If £15K was given to a sociologist to interview people in Glasgow, artists and others to see how limited travelling and income to enable travelling limits your income prospects creating a negative feedback loop that would be seen as fine. As it is a topic of sociological study.

Most people fail to recognise living in Glasgow for a year as art. So either everyone is completely ignorant of art, or those who consider this art have failed to sell their justification to the public. Given the disdain for the Turner prize winners every year and general hostility to the Tate Modern it’s fair to say there’s a segment of the art world that only appeal to artists and their general milieu.

All it appears to be though to the general public is a stunt. The equivalent of sitting in a tub of baked beans to raise some money for your local charity and then seeing someone win the Turner prize for doing the same. A general reaction of I do that every day. It’s not art doesn’t seem to register with the Luvvie echo chamber.

There’s a giant Venn diagram which has music, painting, drawing, dance, theatre and many other activities in a bucket labelled Art and then another which has Modern Art and it is only recognised as belonging in the Art bucket by a very small group.

Over the past few years from Scottish Arts Council to Creative Scotland and various other public bodies distributing public funds there have been huge changes to where funding goes. From the cutting of funds to small projects (like 7:84) to concentrate on larger ones to the massive unavailability of Lottery funds as they were siphoned off to support Olympic related projects. Ordinary people have seen projects they see daily whither whilst public funds still appear (whether factually or not) to flow towards art only appreciated by a very small privileged minority.

I remember getting into a discussion on a message board a number of years ago, and a fan of the Modern Art movement basically justified it by saying if you read the thesis around the work you’d understand its context.

I disagreed then and I disagree now. If I buy a canvas and paint a small square on it in the centre it’s shit. Not a piece of high quality art. One artist though did just that, with their essay explaining it they sold it for a six figure sum. For the general public, art is experienced as art. If you see something and don’t think it’s art, being told that you just need to read a long document about the context of it just sounds pretentious. People don’t need an essay when they see Mona Lisa to understand it is art. Or hear Mozart. Or watch a play. Or see a film. Or any number of other artistic mediums.

The public aren’t ignorant of art, or dislike it. Weekly I see people sharing pictures of what new clothing has been put on the penguins in Dundee City Centre. How many millions of people have Instagram accounts where they post photo diaries of their lives and the interesting things they see and do. How many gigs happen daily, weekly in and around you where people go to discover new bands. The Blue/Gold dress discussion on social media centred around context and lighting and everyones individual perception of an object.

The lack of posting by the artist has probably led to more negative feedback unjustifiably going their way rather than towards Creative Scotland.

The reaction to the Glasgow Effect wasn’t ignorant people complaining about public funds being wasted. It was them screaming The Emperor has no clothes.

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