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The place in front of the main building appears like a field of obelisks. Yet, from up close one recognizes an installation of sculptures shaped like bread rolls.

 

The unfettered embellishment of this ensemble demonstrates how deceptive one's perception can be from a distance. It is a strong statement about things which can only be discerned on closer inspection.

 

And this brings us to the most important exibition of contemporary art, the Budomenta 14.

During our tour we will introduce selected pieces and let experts have their say.

 

A real innovation is the philosophy of active consumption. Instead of an admission ticket each visitor is given a hula hoop.

 

Behind the entrance we are greeted by a dog made of shiny metal. It is as big as a barn door, with a collar and a leash full of holes hanging loosely to the ground.

 

This is an isotope of collateral art, whose unagitated manner is defying any analysis. The monolithic aesthetic speaks for itself.

 

A little further on, pictures and sculptures by old masters have been arranged. In between is a cesspool with a plastic vulture circling over it. The whole set is framed by premium tropical wood. Communication teams feed the willing audience arguments for the importance and beauty of the display.

 

This production is arousing kinetic nausea. "A spectacle of ignorance and collective punishment of all senses", some say; for others it provides an opportunity to forge the art market according to their own visions. On all accounts it is a harbinger of things to come.

 

I have to object. What a courageous and wonderful approach ! Of course, one can be divided on the importance of the work, but not responding to it at all reveals a tertiary  understanding of democracy. Such a presentation is able to familiarize the general public with the magic of unrestrained globalization. 

 

Passing by mimes who are throwing imaginary paint bombs, we get to one of the few poetry readings. The performer is squatting on a trash can and reciting for hours the same sentence which reads: "The path was my goal, and deception was the toll."

  

It is a majestic work. In professional literature it is revered as the first acoustic room divider.

    

One of the crowd-pullers is the pavillon with a neon sign saying "Waiting Period". Inside, multicoloured bananas are dangling from the ceiling. They can be reached for but will eventually fall off by themselves, so most visitors are just lying under them and wait.

 

This makes one think - and then again not.

  

New technologies are addressed by a neighbouring pasture. It is equipped with a huge ground-level keyboard labeled with parts of sentences. Several times a day, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens and more are running around on the area. After a grammar check by a computer with ten grams of artificial intelligence, the generated sentences are published in social networks.

 

How, if at all, and why should that be reviewed ?

 

Definitely as the future of communication. An orgy of symbols marshalled by arbitrariness.

 

Pig number 45 already has millions of followers and is actively involved in discussions about economic policies. Is that acceptable ?

 

Any objective discrimination is based on one or several asymmetric freedoms of opinion. It is a fact that the performance is effortlessly bridging the gulf between incompetence and bad taste.

 

Let's turn to the pavillon in front of which a huge funnel lined with dark fabric is exerting irresistible attraction. Inside, a narrow aisle is dividing the space into two sections.

 

On one side, the actors are pelting each other with cotton balls and juggle with feathers. The background features self-portraits of ornamental plants. Tofu with jute dressing accompanies the meditation on ingrain wallpaper. Then it is time for a soap bubble first-person shooter.

 

On the other side, the protagonists are practising with yo-yos made of dumbbells and steel chains, play dodgeball with bowling balls and trample on each other. After some anvil-biting they scream at themselves in mirrors. A pillow fight with frozen beef carcasses rounds the act off.

 

We are balancing on the continously narrowing pathway and have to avoid to take a tumble.

 

This demonstration is an extrovert statement about the real art scene. Anybody denying this, will also deny the other climate change.

 

Outside again, there is a platform with a large construction resembling the Olympic rings. It is perfectly illuminated, and the cameras mounted around it are broadcasting the show all over the world.

Professional athletes are hopping up and down or back and forth and make upside down jumping-jacks while the sparklers attached to them are burning away.

Some are dancing infatuatedly around an array of cups and medals.

Others have climbed to the top and whirl cast-iron hula hoops with forceful movements.

Meanwhile, there is the premiere of a three-dimensional chess game with bollards.

A hip-hop version of the national anthem provides the soundscape.

At the grand finale, the stage is doused with confetti, soon to be replaced by a flood of banknotes, which are blurring all contours beyond recognition. 

 

In the past, something like this was not considered possible, but nowadays completely new consumers are targeted who cannot get enough of it.

 

The official exhibition catalogue praises the extravaganza as modern sport art. Insiders, however, see it as a preemptive memorial to the duality between exploitation and decadence.

 

Here a creative niche is taken advantage of, which makes the spectator an accomplice.

 

Without doubt it is a social portrayal full of wasted potentials, open to any interpretation but with an unambiguous message.

 

This reminds one of the parallel exhibition to the Budomenta 14, which depicts how cultures can be curated into ruin by the symbiosis of capitalism and dilettantism.

 

One more time, we are looking at the front lawn, where more and more persons are sticking their heads into the bread roll sculptures.

 

On leaving the venue, every visitor is handed out a new hula hoop, this time in distinguished black.

 

What remains are vivid images of the status quo and a reflection about the Budomenta of the future. Such events do have the potential for greatness, but they can as well get stuck in a swamp of institutionalized blunders. Then the midwives of the concept will become its destroyers.

However, there are other, among them also smaller events worth attending.

 

On that note, we say goodbye until next time, and we hula hoop into the sunset, to boldly search for art where no one has searched it before.

 

 

 2017  DEA + GNM + HAW + TDI + UNE

 

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