Art fairs, I’ve seen a few of them. The Berliner Kunstsalon I have attended a number of times, it’s first two years and now this year. In the beginning there was much fresh and interesting work from many of the local artists who were marginalized in the Berlin art market. However since then it has transformed into the same banal copycat pap seen at all of the other art fairs.
It’s one saving grace this year was a generous soul who gave me his entrance card as he was leaving. He obviously took pity on anyone paying the eight euro entrance fee for an art fair that was totally underwhelming.
Soft gay porn seemed to make a popular showing along with the ubiquitous hastily assembled installations. While many of these mundane artworks show no hint of any thought, you of course would be derided by the art intelligentsia as ignorant and uneducated.
My friend Garth Gregory attended the opening and confirmed that the Berlin art circle spent their time discussing concepts. This is being apparent by the lack of time devoted artworks, hastily shot photos, out of focus and poorly photoshopped; offering the most inane of scene or topics, lacking any sense of composition. If you want a real challenge, try and look at the leatherman who has his todger out, and try to keep a straight face.
Technique is handwork, and therefore out, out of fashion, out of the circle of whit and intelligence of the postmodern contemporary art world. This is painfully evident in the paintings on show. No one dared raise their standards above anything mediocre lest they be labeled a craft worker. If you work with your hands too much you obviously don’t spend enough time thinking, and therefore too much time wanking.
Anja Brinkmann who attended the Berliner Salon with me made and astute observation, as we took a restive pause from trekking from floor to floor of the old power substation, warming our bones and hands on the few heating radiators to be found in that cold building. She reflected that if art reflects the zeitgeist, then what we had just viewed was indeed a mirror to our current world situation. Currently we face a crisis, (one of many) in an international finance system that is built on nothing tangible, only concepts and possibilities; the unmanifest, in short, nothing.
The populace is so anesthetised from the media assault we live in, where anything is viewable and entertainment now, shock and outrage garners little more than a whimper. Any fetish may be now labeled as art. Thus we are left with soulless banality as the pinicle of contemporary art that needs the constant assistance of concept, a blizzard of words, which like the natural phenomenon, obscures any sight and direction.
Should you be brash enough to state the obvious and name it as the emperor’s new clothes, then obviously your intellectual rigeur and wit is below par. There is a joke that is being had and snickered behind the hands of the arts intelligentsia. The joke is that clueless people looking to invest in the next big thing will buy anything, and the quest is who can exceed the others with the biggest price tag for the most pointless things sold. Banalities and whimsical curiosities are now equated with the Old Masters, because were they not also interested in profiting from their patrons who were also following fashion dictates?
All jokes repeated conceitedly, bore the audience. And this was evident as the Berliner Salon audience filed through each room barely pausing to view or engage any of the artworks. The party was over on the opening night as was evident from the dull looks in the eyes of gallerists and artists who stood listlessly by their artworks. We’d missed the party and missed the joke, by expecting so see “serious” artwork and anything of note.