On Sunday Jasper and I called in a babysitter and spontaneously went to the ABC (art berlin contemporary) art fair About Painting. By far the coolest thing there were these huge hamster-wheel like things that kids could roll around in inside a pool. It really made the coolest sound and made us (almost) wish the kids were with us or (better yet) that they would allow adult-sized people in those balls.
Looking at those things reminded me of the time I put one of my pet rats in a hamster ball when I was a teenager. He stayed perfectly still and stared at me with his beady eyes as if to say "You've gotta be kidding me."
That's pretty much the way I felt when I walked around the art fair. Although it was called "About Painting" there were only actually two paintings there done by a woman born in 1944 who, as my brother-in-law assured me (he is a painter), is not very trendy. Everything else looked either as if you would have to read a 14 page essay to understand it or like my 4 year old daughter drew a princess castle and my 2 and a half year old daughter then threw up on it. Please, people. The emperor is wearing no clothes.
Seeing such art (or the art world in such a state) reminded me a lot of studying music at Mills College. Although I studied classical singing, what the music department at Mills is best known for is electronic and conceptual music. When I was studying there I was pretty open and went to a lot of different kinds of concerts. I remember in particular one where 25 women in tuxedo shirts played electric guitars with bottles of nail polish and another (from a famous composer from the University of Arizona) with a video installation of ants crawling over a microphone half buried in their nest.
The problem? The guitar playing sounded like hideous noise and the ant recordings like vague scratching. I understand that both art and music can be boring when they are merely beautiful, but when all you have is concept then they are worse then boring. They are simply ludicrous. These days any one artsy fartsy usually calls themselves a designer instead of an artist like they might have 10 or 15 years ago. On Sunday I could see why. If About Painting was a mirror of the contemporary art world then art, in my opinion is dead. Joseph Beuys may have said everyone is an artist, but I think it's time we got over it and something like, um, skill came back into the picture.
Still, the fair was definitely worth a visit if not for the location alone. A former U-Bahn storage house, the rooms were spacious with beautiful light coming from the skylights and lots of warm gray tones abound. People watching was also definitely good. Lots of well dressed ingenues typing madly away on their Mac books. All gallery assistants I assumed.
And I saw a lot of really great shoes. Seriously. I almost asked a few women where they had bought them they were so damn gorgeous, but you just don't do that in Berlin, especially not at an art fair. Speaking of shoes, I never could figure out if the pair above were a work of art or if someone had strangely forgotten them. If anyone knows, please drop me a line. ;)