I wandered around Contemporary Istanbul today, the second iteration of the art fair, which has gotten more Congress Centre massive, and drew in huge coiffured crowds on its opening night. Anyone who has been to an art fair knows how difficult it is to evaluate them outside of purely commercial criteria (surely how galleries on show are obliged to measure success). The thing is. Whatever good will you start with is quickly diminished. The more you see the less you want to see more. Art fairs are parables of the absolute power and impotence of images. Add to that – the complete demystification of art’s supposed mystique.
In the end, it may be us who are to blame for our own disappointment, disaffection and, even, digust – because we go to an art fair wanting to see ‘art,’ in its Platonic intact form, salve, salvation. The thing is (2): Either art fair art is Real Art and everything else is Pretend Art, or, it’s the other way around. Whichever. You would never go and watch a Kate Hudson movie and throw your arms up in the air when you are not served Bela Tarr. ‘Would you?’
‘Point taken, Shumon.’
Now that is clarified, I will make a terminology portrait of what I saw trope-wise today at Contemporary Istanbul. Non-pejorative. ‘Observational,’ obvs.
Interior Design Art On par with a must-have couch or fetching lamp
Purple Art The colour, not the metaphor
Anguish Art Bodies writhing, contorting, protesting, existing, very, very sadly
‘O’ Art O is for Orientalism. Like, paintings of the insides of Ottoman mosques. Not to be confused with Ataturk Art
Ataturk Art Guess
Celebrity Art Such as a painting of Angelina Jolie putting on lipstick. Celebrity Art is to art what McDonalds is to a visit to a foreign country: comforting familiarity, universally universal. Tastes like chicken
Whimsical Iconoclastic Art A Day-Glo Pharoah
Unappropriation Art Such as reprinting Warhol portraits of Basquiat or Warhol himself at a fraction of their real size and without any of the heartfelt conviction of Sturtevant. Probably a sub-set of Celebrity Art
Art History Art Ghengis Khan attacks Keith Haring. Ghengis Khan attacks Manet. Someone attacks Picasso’s Three Dancers. A subset of Unappropriation Art or its Step Father
War Art Classical statue holding an AK-47
A-Level Art Reminds me of when I was 16 or 17 and carried a copy of Kafka everywhere I went because the world is shit everyone is false I am so miserably misunderstood. Sex, Love, Death! Can I have this week’s pocket money please?
Bonbon Art Literally, bonbons blown up to the size of an NBA basketball player. In many flavours. On small plinths
Aggregate Art Faces and figures made from a single unit of something repeated. eg coins, bike chains, bottle caps. The faces in these instances are often asleep. Possibly because they’re bored of the ubiquity of this technique
Prim Porn Art An echo of what gets through Turkey’s robust internet censorship system – which allows everything except pornography. Prim Porn Art channels the libidinal thrust of pornography but refuses to money-shot you with anything hardcore. eg lots of thongs
Cheap Sapphist Art Girl-on-girl. Because? No reason!