Saturday, 30 July 2016

Back in the gallery with my bullshit detector

I’ve never been quite sure about this 40 years of punk “celebration” that’s going on. All a bit too establishment for me. And I know some of the London stuff has been controversial.

I was in Bristol yesterday and it turned out they are doing a punk season at the Arnolfini arts centre. They say they are, anyway.

It didn’t look to me like it had anything to do with punk, but they’ve got a get-out clause.  It’s about “punk as an attitude that has more than one history and meaning”, they say.

So what we’ve got on at the moment is:

A “collage” in the foyer that’s nothing much to do with anything.

Some art-schooly stuff by their “young people”, based round slogans.

With room to write your own on a blackboard.

And last night, for the launch, a “performance” which made me want to run a mile going “OMG, it’s a HAPPENING”.

I don’t think anyone there gets it. I didn’t expect them to, but I always hope.

Look at the language they use: “the unstable, the volatile and the unpredictable”, “disrupt” (a VERY 21st century word), “Should we reject the future?” (the opposite of what punk was about!).

They also talk about being “angry” and “raw”. There’s no evidence of that in the gallery.

Go outside, and there’s more, but not much better: a “print installation” – ie some posters – done by local students. More pointless slogans.

I don’t remember punk being much about slogans, unless you were Malcolm McLaren. It was about doing and being, not about theorising.

But if you want better slogans – or what the museum calls “anti-authoritarian creativity” – you don’t have to go far.

A stone’s throw from the gallery, there’s a footbridge across the river and someone’s taken advantage of the banners at each end to write their own message. More punk than anything the museum could come up with!

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