Monday, 8 January 2007

But is it art ?

To Tate Modern this weekend.

As is often the case, watching the people is at least as enjoyable as looking at the art.

The main attraction is the installation by Carsten Holler - swirly metal and glass tubes that are also slides. Adults and kids alike seem to be queuing up for some time to take their turn to experience the ride.

All those poe-faced, middle class media-types who would shudder at the thought of a day trip to Alton Towers or Chessington World of Adventures obviously feel that their fun is legitimised by it being in an art gallery.

Looking at their faces as they go down the slides, some of the adults seem to be surrendering to the moment and are screaming and laughing as they spin down the height of the four floors of the turbine hall. Others manage to maintain the earnest and reverential look that is felt to be appropriate in a gallery.

I have seen it argued that public funding of the arts is a means by which the working class subsidises the middle class in their pleasures. I'm not sure I entirely agree with this but this is certainly some truth in it. The argument seems particularly appropriate when the middle class are given the chance to experience a 'chav day out' under the guise of supporting art.

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