Journal: February 2009 Archives

Art education for kids

8 February 2009

A fine piece of real-life Competitive Dad overheard at Tate Britain today. A father and son come into the room that contains a bunch of pieces by Walead Besht in the Altermodern * exhibition that opened last Tuesday (3 February).

Fedex is a group of glass boxes mounted on Fedex shipping boxes in various states of distress. The work has the boxes shipped around the world with little more protection than the cardboard affords. So, they gradually get more smashed up the longer they're in transit.** Eventually, they wind up in an exhibition.

Enter father and son of about 10 or 11:

"Those boxes, they're all broken," he piped up.

"They're meant to be broken. That's the point," snapped Dad curtly.

And with that, they went for a quick look at the Projection Room installation and then out of the room. I wonder what happened when they got to Millais' Ophelia on the other side of the gallery:

"That lady's lying in the water."

"She's meant to be lying in the water."

Or Rosetti's The Annunciation:

"That lady looks a bit scared."

"She's meant to be scared."

* It is, frankly, a bit rubbish in parts but not half as bad as the FT makes out. However, the worst pieces tend to be those that best fit Nicolas Bourriaud's definition of altermodern. Oops.

** I'm guessing Fedex will not be using this for a PR campaign. Mind you, at least Besht hasn't been rude about Memphis. At least, not to my knowledge.