Saturday, November 04, 2006
The shopping centre form of modern art, for various reasons, is basically a gloss on this experience of substitutability. You could perhaps account for it as a process of natural history, simultaneously intricate and banal, (as if art naturally sprang up where streetlife didn’t interfere, in the same way that plants reappear in disused carparks) although obviously in reality it’s all down to business and/or the council. The message of modern art is stupid and grandiose: “Citizens! Tremble!” - it’s all about the disclosure of this possibility of substitution and it’s fundamentally ambivalent toward the consequences. It hardly matters whether art is pro or con the shopping centre terror effect it inevitably piggybacks. Hans Arp once said, anticipating this ambivalence: “we had a dim premonition that power-mad gangsters would one day use art itself as a way of deadening men's minds”. Go and have a look at Peckham Library if you don’t believe me.