Tag Archives: Culture

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Ass to luv iz da baby

This is how a rapper would understand “astalavista baby”, I assume, and you’ll get my drift in a minute, for I have a bum-related art question for rappers. As I don’t know any personally, I hope you can propel it to someone who knows one, so that they could answer it.

Who the hell is buying the stuff?!

Under “stuff”, I don’t mean art or contemporary art, in general. Of course, you can hear this question when a Gainsborough admirer stumbles upon Turner Prize exhibits at Tate Britain in London; a lover of Raphael takes a wrong turn and ends up in Centre Pompidou instead of Louvre, or you yourself see a yellow Hummer H2 squeezing through a side street. In the latter case, we know the answer, of course: it must be a rap performer, a Top Gear show making fun of rap performers, or Arnie on a mission.

Yet, there’s one kind of art that makes me whisper this question. It is a realistically sculpted nude female body in an erotic posture. There are a few sculptors, quite successful commercially, who make this stuff.

Something tells me that the buyers come mainly from thriving mob and rapper communities. Unlike art historians who present their evidence and then shoot their arguments, these gangsta art-lovers shoot first and try to hide all the evidence later: that’s why I have to lower my voice asking this question in public.

There are sculptors who do it in wood, which makes me think of a moment when Mr Gepetto, Pinocchio father, was feeling especially lonely.

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This is work of Richard Senoner, who claims he is “converting expressiveness, aesthetics and harmony into sculpture”

Potential customers! Remember, this art is unsafe. The wood will crack in unpredictable places just about the time the running of your hand over it becomes an integral part of your daily routine. Instead of thrills, you may start getting daily splinters.

PS. If you don’t run your hand over it, what was the point of buying it in the first place?

There are artists who do it in bronze. Galleries in seaside French towns are filled to the roof with bronze seductresses sporting polished thighs and bums. It is as if Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Miro, Signac or Marquet have never existed, let alone lived in this part of the world. But I will rest the issue of why French Rivera visitors are prone to indulge in bronze figurines with fake-looking breasts. It is probably the sun. My question is not about this artless and anatomically bizarre bronze merde that costs marginally more than the metal that went into making it in a Chinese melting shop.

My question is about this:

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This is a French sculptor. Great carving. Unparalleled polishing. His stone bums sell for 5 to 7 thousand euros. To whom?! Who is stoned enough to buy himself a stone bum?

Wood is warm to the touch at least. But what do you do with stone?

This sculptor also does ice.

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Ice I can try to understand. Get yourself an ice bum, lick it to nothingness, die from pneumonia, don’t forget to croak you die as a performance artist before your last wheeze.

But, I am sorry to repeat myself, what do you with a stone bum?

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You can treat yourself to his website if you choose to. There are a few items there that could make this blog banned in some conservative countries. Remember, it can’t be unseen.

No rapper friends? Then give me your vote, please!

Yuri Kazantzev, Vladimir Putin at his desk. 2012, oil on canvas

Russia is about to commit cultural suicide

Last year, President Putin pronounced 2014 the Year of Culture. I was fine with it, then. I was slightly more concerned about 2015. Would it going to be a year of less culture than 2014? And what about 2016: a year of zero culture?

My petty concerns aside, when Putin says something, the bureaucratic fervour with which that something is done, makes ER crews rushing patients to hospitals look like snails in deep meditation. He said, “culture”, and Russian bureaucrats darted off to locate, restrain, and put that “culture” patient on life-saving medication.

Weeks were passing by and… nothing happened. They couldn’t find the damn thing. By mid-May they realised they didn’t know what culture looked like when it was last seen.
So, the Ministry of Culture decided to produce a definition of culture that would help any law-abiding citizen to embrace it on sight.

Culture in Russia, from now on, is the cumulative deposit of differentiating characteristics, values, traditions, and beliefs that are specific to the way of life and art of the society or a social group.

The closest international definition clearly has more words in it:

International definition: Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.

I am not surprised to see fewer words in the Russian version: we, Russians, are known for our brevity. We don’t understand “small talk”; we don’t ask, “Are you OK” before helping people (yes, often against their will); we save time on pleasantries and point directly at things we want to take home. Too bad if the thing we want to take is your home (but we make sure your home runs a referendum to stop being your home). Perhaps, this is why “possessions” also don’t feature in the Russian definition. “Hierarchies” are omitted because there’s only a single hierarchy in Russia. If it is a constant, it can be abridged from the equation.

There’s no “knowledge” in the Russian definition, but it includes “art”.

At first, I was surprised to see “art” woven in, for the debate on what is art and what is not does not seem to be closed. The Ministry had the same concern, it seems, so they defined art further in the text.

The souls of warring philosophers, art historians, art makers, and art lovers may finally come to rest.

Art is one of the forms of manifestation of social consciousness, an integral part of the spiritual culture of the mankind, a method of the spiritual exploration and mastering of the world.

Yes, culture is defined via art, and art is defined via culture. This is called a recursion, a pedant’s nightmare, and a favourite of cynics, who believe “the culture of sex” and “the art of sex” are two very different things, at least in their ability to provide pleasant sensations. Google produces two very different sets of pictures, but make sure your computer is sufficiently protected before attempting to check it for yourself.

This may seem a fine definition until someone with a drop of common sense stumbles in and spoils the party. Not surprisingly, this is a very unlikely event in the Russian Ministry of Culture that’s headed by a guy who stole both of his PhD theses to get PhD’s in two different areas. He is still in possession of his PhD’s, and he’s still the Minister even though the web is bursting at the seams with court-worthy evidence. How creatively postmodernist is that?

So, the absence of logic is not a problem.

The biggest problem is that INDIVIDUALISM is totally excluded from both definitions. “Culture is blah-blah-blah society”. “Art is blah-blah-blah social blah-blah mankind”. Without an individual drive, desire, and effort both art and culture are doomed.

What if you make something that has not been an integral part of the spiritual culture of the mankind? Something totally new? Like Matisse’s cutouts? Oops. That’s won’t be art, for it had not been an integral part of the spiritual culture until the cutouts were made.

What if you make something that is not about exploring the world? No, says the Russian Ministry of Culture, that’s definitely not art that makes up culture that is made of art.

What if you make something that’s about your personal joy? No, you must produce babies each time you have sex, and don’t think about your own pleasure. Think about the value the babies you are making will bring to the society.

You know, they had a ministry of music in China in the 4th century BC. I’ve heard an opinion that this freeze-dried their music culture for a couple thousand years.

I am so sad this is happening in Russia now, and my only hope is that there will be less of the officially recognised culture next year.

Walk through this gallery of paintings and sculptures that are officially recognised as art in Russia to understand how a great culture can be destroyed.

If you hate it, drop me a line. Otherwise, I’d have to torture you with more of it, just like a producer of cheap flavoured booze, who promoted his stuff with,

“I bet you throw up after the first bottle, if not – you get another bottle free”.

If you are Kim Jong Un and would like the artists’ contact details, write me a nice letter, and promise you won’t kill the courier when he brings back my reply.

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“I want to be the best in the world”

I encountered this car in a quiet street  in Fitzrovia. Luxurious opulence. Opulent luxury. I though, who was dumb enough to demonstrate his small willie inferiority complex so openly?

Number One

A Protestant would rather die than even sit in this car. So, Swiss bankers were not even considered. A Russian oligarch? A Russian would go for a black car. A Ukrainian would go for a white one. That left me with the only viable option, really. An Arab.

It turned out I was not the first to ask this question. Google knows this car.

What came as a surprise was the sum paid for the Number “1” on the license plate by the car owner (who was 25 years old at the time).

Let me present Saeed Khouri from Abu Dhabi. Of why he paid an astounding £7,100,000 ($10.7 million) for it in 2008, Khouri commented:

“I bought it because it’s the best number… I bought it because I want to be the best in the world”.

Khouri’s cousin, Talal, has a similar passion for number plates. He paid £3,470,000 for the registration “5” in 2007 (source)

I love this Arab mentality. The best man in the world? Easy. You don’t have to be Leonardo da Vinci. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein. You don’t even have to be the first man in space, for god’s sake. You can become the best by buying the number “1” for you car.

This is why this culture can not produce geniuses and is largely useless. It can’t move the mankind forward. People don’t have to invent, work hard, be creative. The best Arab man is the one who resides at Hyde Park One and has a “1” on his license place.

I just hope that Arabic culture is NOT ALL like this. I really do. For its own sake.

I am sure that this guy is at about 5 handshakes from me now. That’s kinda theory that Facebook has proven some time ago.

Let’s try to reach this guy, somehow. Let’s tell him he’s a disgrace of the human race. Perhaps, there are still some healthy neurons in his mind that can connect into a simple thought: this Rolls Royce is not just vulgar. It is indecent.

Between Love and Hate, there’s Indifference

I once read that London was a melting pot of cultures, the multicultural capital of the world. Well, I have a real-estate kind of question. How can cultures melt if they are segregated into city blocks or areas, price differentiated, and closely guarded?

For instance, this quiet area of London is loved by white upper middle class (and higher) representatives who happen to have very liberal and tolerant views on other cultures, but pay about 30 to 50% more for their flats to stay away from the next-door area populated by Muslims. A tiny flat in a townhouse here starts from $1m.

It’s the intolerant lower classes that have to actually melt with the immigrants from Pakistan. It’s the intolerant lower classes that produce BNP stormtroopers that the higher liberal classes do not approve and even are ashamed of.

I find it somewhat hypocritical and an obvious proof that behind those walls racism is in full bloom, regardless of what the media or politicians say. Politicians also happen to favour this area, by the way. 

Impoverished people often turn to loathing other impoverished people who differ by their race, culture or religion. Frankly, I blame them less than those empowered snobs who camouflage their hatred by albums of Muslim art they “collect” and monologues about tolerance.

When I say that I don’t like certain art coming from certain cultures, my British upper-class contacts react in an indignant, almost offended way. Come on. If I don’t like something, it doesn’t mean I hate it. I just don’t like it. There’s indifference between love and hate, that famous indifference that is encapsulated in the “Live and let live” principle Britain is so proud of.

If I admit I am indifferent, I am honest about one important thing: I don’t harbor any hatred. If I start lying about loving other cultures, I start hating myself for lying and then I blame this guilt on those other cultures that made me start lying. And then I start hating them.

And, OK, that was a preface. Unlike European co-existence of religions, Mexico offers an interesting example of cultural fusion, and a Sunday market in Mexico is the place I will take you to in my next post. Goths, indians, a pagan take on Christianity, human sacrifice – you’ll see it all, and that’s where I am going to take you next!

PS Human sacrifice is symbolic nowadays.