This piece of graffiti art is on the wall of the same museum in Tallinn, Estonia as the the painting entitled Strawberry Eaters that inspired the story I wrote. There were several quotes of this type, and they are apparently French Marxist sayings that date back to 1968. A couple of other examples are “Run comrade, the past is behind you!”, and “Culture is the inversion of life”.
I was particularly taken with this one because it brought to mind the state of popular culture in these perilous times. I’m thinking in particular of the prevalence of “reality television” shows such as Survivor (whatever) and Fear Factor, just to name two examples of that execrable genre.
In other words, when I asked myself what arts corpse might consist of, reality television leaped to mind, along with a great deal of pop music and fashion. I find it alarming that even though the corpse is gargantuan, there are no end of those more than willing to gorge themselves on its ample and constantly regenerating remains.
Which is not to say that there isn’t great art being made all the time. Art that challenges and provokes and, yes, makes one think. For surely that is what art should do. What it must do if it is to remain vital and relevant. But it seems that increasingly the masses only want bread and circuses, just as they did back in the times that led up to the fall of the Roman Empire.
Something to think about there. Could there be a correlation between the state of the world economy and the state of popular culture, which increasingly resembles something that might well pass for the corpse of art? Perhaps not. Then again, the similarity to the Roman Empire…
There was another saying on the wall that I photographed, these were all part of a single installation, that said this:
“In a society where all adventure has been abolished, the only adventure left is to abolish society.”
I don’t think any one part of the world is quite there yet, with the possible exception of North Korea, but we may well be moving in that direction. There is an old Chinese curse that goes: May you live in interesting times.
Indeed we do.