Saturday, 30 November 2013

Strategy: Stop Art

Just when you think Douglas Degeneration Parsnips (having collaborated with the Department of Home Affairs to prevent free speech in communal spaces) cannot do more to screw up the quality of Manx life, this (see
Oh joy! A perfectly respectable refuge for low rent bohemians (not to mention a treasure chest of arcane knowledge you cannot find anywhere else locally) is being swept away, just so arty upper middle class dullards who are too arrogant to work in the real world (and too thick to know they have nothing to contribute to the arts) have yet another place to play.
How dumb. How utterly, utterly depressing!
If you cannot be bothered to root through the whole PR sick-bag, read this and try not to puke...
“Speaking on behalf of Douglas Corporation, Chris Pycroft said: ‘It is a really exciting prospect to work with the college in a partnership between the council and the college to breathe new life back into the Market Hall and make it a place really for the whole community, to start to be creative and think creatively.’
He added: ‘The project should allow the market operation to continue, not in the same format as it is at the moment, but at weekends and holiday times, but with additional uses happening in the building as well.’”
Oh............. piss off and get a proper job, Pie-Chart, I'm sick of us taxpayers subsidising anti-democratic clowns like you.
Has anyone actually talked to any of the island's art veterans? Has nobody noticed that internationally known Manx born sculptors, conceptual artists and painters cannot actually get employed to teach arts locally?
Has nobody asked why Manx fine arts students almost never go on to reputable British courses? Could that be because fine arts was phased out of local college courses two decades back in favour of 'practical' arts (graphic design, fashion...) taught by losers who couldn't get an industry job even when there was an industry, when just three decades back a lowly foundation diploma from the Manx FE college was almost a passport to Goldsmiths, St. Martins or even the RCA?
Even leaving aside 'career' arty types, I can remember in the mid-1980's spending free afternoons from split shift 'day jobs' browsing two incredible book stalls in that market, and amongst the usual airport novels and conspiracy theorists discovering a shelf-load of not only Michael Moorcock and other new sci-fi writers, but rarities ranging from Algernon Blackwood and H.P. Lovecraft through to Henry Treece (a mid-twentieth century New Apocalyptic chum of Dylan Thomas and Kenneth Rexroth, known to school-kids of my age for his Celtic twilight stuff, but also the author of adult versions through which Moorcock and others discovered something more imaginative could be written even in Cold War conformist Britain).
Certainly, the little community of truly knowledgeable Manx art and book-sellers which existed until around 2000 has been replaced by anal 'collectors' who know the investment value of everything and the intellectual value of nothing, but that is not the point.
I was back there, by chance, last weekend, and it was the same as ever. A bunch of wheelchair users having an animated meeting in one corner, an unpretentious caff and small shops, the book stalls.....
The source material is still there to be discovered by any chance explorer willing to risk 50p, but we are now to lose, forever, the only place on the island comparable to, say Liverpool Whitechapel in 1979 with Bill Drummond and Teardrop Explodes chatting to Pete Burns in Brian's Caff, Burnsy on a lunch break from Zoo Records, the legendary punk venue Eric's 50 yards away. And, yes, even the School of Language, Dreams and Pun with the statue of Jung (where the kind of pretentious rich thickos DDP want to attract hung out) got blitzed in the 'regeneration' of the area, and Eric's, having been shut on health and safety grounds, is now a Cavern museum for Japanese tourists while the much bigger and more important 'Mersey scene' of the late 1970's and early 1980's is wiped from 'official' Liverpool history.
But doesn't that just prove the point?
What you actually need in order for creativity to run riot is a low rent space full of odd source material which can become the stuff of new and better dreams, and for rich poseurs and bureaucrats with pebble-dash for brains to butt out.
By the way, returning to the matter of free speech in public places, you may want to take a look at , a defence of the concept in which even the National Secular Society and Christofascist loons like the Christian Institute are united.
Because as the NSS point out:
“The proposed new law is contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill . Clause 1 of the bill introduces "Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance" (IPNAs), which seek to suppress anything deemed to be potentially "annoying", however vague the justification. IPNAs will replace Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), which had been introduced under the Labour government.
Whilst in order for an ASBO to be issued, a court has to be satisfied that someone had at least caused or threatened to cause "harassment, alarm or distress" to someone else and that the order was "necessary" to protect the victim, the proposed new law would allow a court to impose sweeping curbs on people's liberty if it thinks they are "capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person", and so long as it is "just and convenient" to do so.”
Anything their colonial cousins in Westminster think a wizard wheeze, our chumps in the Wedding Cake and their (Westminster trained) 'expert advisors' are bound to swallow whole, without even a tentative “Are you sure about this?”, never mind “Has anyone actually thought this twaddle through?”
I would be willing to bet that at some point in the next year the DHA (or perhaps even their house-trained monkey, Juan Watterson) announces plans for IPNAs . So follow the UK campaign now, so that when (or perhaps if) we get a public consultation over here you can make informed comment.

P.S. The title of this rant is a pun on Reg Quayle's groundbreaking Strategy:Get Art campaign in the early 1980's, which put on (in empty shops during the worst recession the island had then seen) the work of truly inspiring Manx art experimentalists like Kevin Atherton. As folk like Reg never get credit for keeping this septic isle out of the Dark Ages during the knock-on effects of Thatcherism, and nobody in the current Manx government arts administration will even have heard of the project I thought I should mention it.

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