Rant 19: How Childish

Rant 19: How Childish Steve Hines, first a right, then a left, 2004, digital video. Credit: Steve Hines

Why do we love art? Or do we? Do you go to a gallery and simply 'love' everything you see? Or is the highlight of your art experience coffee and cake in the cafe? Our new Ranter Charlie Levine delves into the questions of loving and hating art, as Stuckist Billy Childish brings to a close his 'Art Hate Week'.

Under the modern visions of the people in charge we are all encouraged to encounter art; we should go to galleries, sit in Trafalgar Square people watching with a twist, we should want, need and experience what art has to offer. And in our drones we do; we go, we see, we have a coffee in their cafe, we leave. But do we judge? Do we collate all of our emotions and leave with a sense of pleasure, a sense of the worthwhile, or confusion? Do we respond to some works more than others? Do we even have to? Can we simply look with our eyes and not involve our emotions? Can it be that simple? Why do we have to love or loathe? Is encountering enough?

According to the staple of Brit Art controversy Billy Childish, it is not enough, we should allow ourselves to 'hate' art. Apparently I missed the memo where we had to 'love' all art, so this comes as a somewhat out of the blue thought. It became stranger still when I realised he has launched an entire week dedicated to the art of hating with his idea 'let's go visit the galleries and museums we usually do and hate everything.' But is that the joke? If you don't obey what part are you then playing? Is Childish making us want to 'love' art more than before? Like art, we too, can break rules?

At this point I should note that Childish feels the need to promote this on Tate Modern's front steps, handing out flyers and posters designed by him to the passing public (is this display a type of contemporary art performance Childish? Naughty Stuckist!), encouraging them to hate what's inside the gallery. And in case you can't make it, the flyers and posters are available to buy from the website, www.arthate.com, for costs in between £15 to £600 – and actually I quite like them.

[Art Hate Week was declared as 13-20 July 2009 - Ed]

Contributed by Charlie Levine

Charlie Levine is a curator and writer living and working predominantly in Birmingham.


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