Burned, bombed and banned books

Published by: SecretSpi on 31st Aug 2017 | View all blogs by SecretSpi

I had an attack of arty-fartyness last weekend and visited documenta14 in Kassel. It's an exhibition of contemporary art, and the 14 is not to confuse, or be arty, or be behind the times: it's the 14th time that the exhibition has been held.

 

I was a bit disappointed this time, having visited in 2012 and 2007. I can't put my finger on it, but everything seemed so depressing, predicatable and worthy. I wasn't shocked or surprised. Nothing made me laugh. There was nothing I'd label as outrageous. The closest I got was that an old 1970s Post Office Building in a rather grim part of town is being used as one of the galleries, and the invasion of hipsters and intellectuals wondering whether the Turkish hairdressing salons and Syrian bakeries in the area were real or merely arty installations was priceless.

 

One work that you can't avoid at documenta14 is from the Argentinian artist Marta Minujin. It's called 'The Parthenon of Books' and is a life-size replica of the original,  built from banned books. A bit different from matchsticks, anyway.

 

Ms Minujin is no stranger to creating Parthenons Parthena Parthenae - dammit! Where's my Latin O Level when I need it (or is it all Greek anyway ... ?) in that she created something similar in Buenos Aires in 1983 at the time the military junta were on their way out, using confiscated books that were languishing in cellars.

 

The documenta14-commissioned Parthenon has been erected on the Friedrichsplatz, where two thousand books were burned by the Nazis in the 1930s. In the nearby Friedricarium, which was being used as a library at the time, 350,000 books were lost as a result of an Allied bombing attack in 1941.

 

A few thousand books destroyed deliberately, or hundreds of thousands as collateral damage: which is worse? A philosophical (or is it ethical?) question to which there is no answer, only opinions.

 

There is still time, if you like, to supply a book for the Parthenon. It is undeniably an impressive work of art, in its concept and from a distance. Close-up, it's slightly disappointing. If you follow the link at the beginning of this para, you'll see that the books included are based on a shortlist of 170, and there is also a more comprehensive list, currently standing at 120,000, being developed by the University of Kassel. Maybe it is inevitable, but the same books appear again and again in the columns, almost like a product placement or sponsorship from the publisher. The main suspects:

 

The Germany version of 'Guantanamo Diary' by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. OK - fair dos - I haven't read it but it sounds like something controversial.

 

'Twilight' and others in the series by Stephenie Meyer. Now ... funnily enough, this doesn't seem to appear on the short or long list although maybe it has been banned as being an affront to literature, somewhere.

 

In fact, there were a few books that many would think were banned for good reason and should stay so. I expect my son would like to see 'The Sorrows of Young Werther' by Goethe banned once more and no longer forced on German teenagers at school.

 

I'm still not sure what will happen to the books when documenta14 is over, but I won't be queuing up for a copy of 'Twilight' even if it has been part of a work of art.

Comments

54 Comments

  • David
    by David 2 months ago
    Anselm Kiefer has a pretty dark approach to Germany's response to World War II; his work expresses horror and grief. Parthenon, that you're talking about, seems to be more hopeful, suggesting that there is a future.

    I was surprised at the books listed in the article you linked to. It seems that a book can shape society, in ways that are almost marked, sometimes, by the places in which they've been banned. I didn't look at the short list or the longer one, but I suspect there'll be more familiar books that have caused a reaction. My own view is that there should be freedom of expression as much as possible.
  • Caducean Whisks
    by Caducean Whisks 2 months ago
    I wonder why the Parthenon, though. What's the connection between it and banned books?
    I never really 'got' modern art until I went to MOMA in New York, and then suddenly it all fell into place and I came away with the thought that it's anything that provokes thought or discussion or makes you look at something/anything in a new way. By that definition, your Parthenon of banned books fits - it made you think enough to write a blog and we're discussing it here :)
    Where was Twilight banned, I wonder. And why.
    Banned books always have a special allure, don't they. There's some old archive footage of a people queuing to buy Lady Chatterley's Lover when it was un-banned. They're all looking shifty, averting their gazes, and when the reporter asks them, they say they're 'buying it for a friend.' Ahh. I read my friend's mum's copy when I was about 14 and apart from half a titillating page (if that), I found it dull as anything.
  • Woolleybeans
    by Woolleybeans 2 months ago
    Some people tried to ban Twilight on the grounds it is sexually explicit, which is really odd. Because it isn't. Even less so than dead Lady C, I think.
  • Woolleybeans
    by Woolleybeans 2 months ago
    Okay...I mean 'dear' Lady C, not 'dead'. That would...that would be a VERY different book.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    Hello David - yes, I agree that sometimes the act of banning a book says more about the banner (if that's the right word) and the society they live in than the work itself. The books is the Parthenon are displayed in a 'democratic' fashion with no groupings or explanation as to where or when or why they were banned, which leaves it open for the visitor to wonder.

    Whisks - two things on the Parthenon - first of all, it is a symbol of democracy which I guess is what led the artist to use it for her first work in Buenos Aires - and then the current documenta has a theme of 'Learning from Athens' so of course that fits. I never read Lady Chatterley's Lover but I do remember something on TV involving Sean Bean - better have a cold shower ...

    WB - now, that would probably have been better grounds for banning ;) I couldn't find Twilight on the long list, but I have also heard that it was banned maybe in school libraries in some parts of the US for that reason, which seems absurd.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    Dear Secfetspi,
    We had to read 'The Sorrows of Werther too.
    I removed the blog on Dean Swift being proscribed. I was curious as to the response.
    Incidentally You were right. Arab night's Entertainments are described in a separate book. which recounts the Arab tradition of story telling. The journals were re-written ten years later and the descriptions are smiler to Dickens describing the London poor,
  • David
    by David 2 months ago
    Yes, I think that banning a book is acknowledging that it has 'hit a nerve' within society and that once it is re-instated, so to speak, it occasionally becomes influential, as that brief list shows.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    P.S After the proms - last night radio 3 BBC - there was a talk in which Judy Blume discussed the impact of her books which dealt with teenage sexuality. I wonder if she could have written these if the Lawrence trial had not occurred? Some years ago, stickers were put on books that had been proscribed and which books were proscribed varied from country to country.
  • Snowflake
    by Snowflake 2 months ago
    I would imagine the Parthenon was chosen for it's form. Perhaps it was simpler to build that shape. Anything else would require more books and more engineering.
  • Mashie Niblick
    by Mashie Niblick 2 months ago
    V moving installation in Bebelplatz, Berlin where there is an underground 'Library' (name of the piece) which can accommodate 20,000 books, the approximate number of books burnt there, but the shelves are all empty. You can look down into it through plate glass. One of the burnt books was by Heinrich Heine who wrote (in the 1800s) what became the inscription you can read next to the glass square - 'That was only a prelude, there where they burn books, they burn in the end people'.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    I haven't seen that one, Mashie, but will have a look next time I'm up there. The Heine quote inspired my story many moons ago for AlanP's 'Job Centre' challenge.

    Snowflake: its a bit of a cheat, Snowflake, as it isn't literally built of books, but of metal girders, and the books are kind of just 'decoration' - the concept and the view from a distance is more impressive than close up.

    Those stickers only really exist in the realm of music these days: 'Parental Advisory', Mike - but even that seems irrelevant nowadays as I can't imagine many teenagers buy CDs (even if vinyl is supposedly making a comeback.)

    Yup, David - I am sure that getting a book banned somewhere must be one of the best marketing tricks available to publishers. Has anyone here written a banned book, I wonder?
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    Dear Secretspi,
    The stickers were a library promotion. I recall Catch 22, and 'Animal Farm' both had stickers. It worked very well. Animal Farm featured in a play I saw about Sonia Orwell,and the problems involved in its publication were included in the plot. At the time, there had been a consensus in not wishing to annoy Stalin.
    When the book was published it became a best seller, as did 1984 but, sadly, Orwell did not live to enjoy his financial success,
    The book about Egypt and Mohammed Ali was written by a'noted' historian at a time when historians were not noted.' It is politically correct and very positive about Arab culture but political correctness is a product of the enlightenment. I've spent the week seeing if it is possible to cut the book down. The journals were re-written as a history book ten years later and this book came close to being considered a classic of travel writing. Over the past week I've been looking into the possibility of a very much reduced version but you can see the problem from what I posted about Jonathan Swift. It would be banned.
  • Hilly
    by Hilly 2 months ago
    Very interesting blog and the accompanying comments.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    Thanks, Hilly!

    I think some of the Animal Farm publication problems were recently reflected in the film about North Korea - the name has escaped me for the moment. But in the end, it is refreshing that the pen (or camera) does seem to be mightier than the sword.
  • L.
    by L. 2 months ago
    Hi SecretSpi, I believe the film you are thinking about is The Interview with James Franco and Seth Rogan when North Korea pressured to have the film pulled out from general release because it was offensive to their dictator. In the end, it actually created massive publicity for the film.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    Yep - that's it! Thanks, L. Have you seen it?
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 2 months ago
    When Jude the Obscure was published, a prominent cleric burned a copy and railed to anyone who would listen about its immorality. This led many people to go out and buy the book, only to throw it away in disgust at the lack of smut. These days it can seem surprising what has been banned in the past. A sign that we are considerably more open minded than even a half century ago. During my time at university it was possible to get a feel for how things had been in the 50s and before, as the Church of England owned much of the town including the land the cinema was on, so it could veto certain films, usually with the support of the MP. Several films were given this treatment when I was there. I remember the David Kronenberg film Crash, based on a JG Ballard novel, was one of them, but am sure there were others. They tended to be screened at the university instead, as it was out of the clutches of the archbishop.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    Too true, Daedalus - consider the fuss surrounding 'Life of Brian' which seems strange now to most people - even a few decades make a big difference. On the other hand, the developments such as 'trigger warnings' and guidance as to potentially sensitive or offensive content suggest that although society may be becoming more open-minded in some ways, there are still taboos when it comes to films and books.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    Is the Rushdie affair still on people's minds? Some moderate muslems object to censorship. but political correctness - ;though I wish the therm would disappear - is now enshrined in English law and there is a separation of religion from the state.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    The drama 'Jeremy Springer' was taken to court by a Christian church on the grounds that the play was blasphemous.rather than embarrassing which was more to the point. The church did not pursue the issue to a higher court as the caee went against them. I tried to check up the law relating to blasphemy as my grandfather's book dealt with the Second Coming. Immediately afterwards he wrote a book which looked at the Second Coming from Mary's point of view. This is the sort of book that could be banned in some countries.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    This is from an 1846 re-write of the 1832 book on Egypt and refers to the library of Alexandria, “On the same spot also stood the famous library burned at the command or with the permission of Omar by Amrou-Ben-Alas.* Gibbon,to mitigate the pungency of our sorrow for this catastrophe, insinuates that the greater number of the books must have been on theology, if in reality the conflagration ever took place.
    I tried to check this up and the view is still held in some quarters that the library was burnt down because the Sultan - a different spelling on the internet - felt there was only the need for the Koran.
    I think ‘To mitigate he pungency of out sorrow for this catastrophe, Gibbon insinuates that the greater number of books were on theology’ makes the author’s point more succinctly.
    It is difficult to research on google as the information given can be misleading. If you type in Mohammed Ali, you are directed to the life of an American boxer. The founder of Modern Egypt comes somewhat low on the list.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    Sometimes it is worth trying a different search engine other than the ubiquitous Google - I am using DuckDuckGo at the moment.
  • sirtanicmills
    by sirtanicmills 2 months ago
    Excellent discussion, guys. There were also some lively debates about popular music and movies in the sixties and seventies. The Beeb seemed to proscribe stuff every other day, and I recall the fuss as I queued to see The Exorcist in the early 70s. There were protest placards and people urging the cinema goers to boycott the film and, in so doing, to save their souls. And various religious groups tried very hard to have the film banned outright.

    IIRC the film remained prohibited on video in the UK for decades after that. It was argued by the censors that some of the scenes might prove seriously disturbing for young teenage girls, and I have to say that could then and do still now see their point.

    I'm still amused by some of the stuff the Beeb missed through a complete unawareness of life and cultures outside of Broadcasting House. The wonderful "Round the Horne" is an excellent example. Primetime Sunday Lunchtime radio and outrageous on occasions. Try it if it's new to you. There are some editions on the BBC website and Youtube, of course.
  • Raine
    by Raine 2 months ago
    Daeds - I didn't know that about Jude the Obscure! How very bizarre, and yes to read it expecting titillation is not quite the right frame of mind in which to appreciate it, I'd guess. And that's a mess of a sentence if ever there was one.

    I always thought it was odd how Satanic Verses got singled out, as most of Rushdie's books carry much the same perspective. One wonders if the jihad-crazy guys who objected based it on anything other than the title!
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 2 months ago
    Yes, I remember 'Round the Horne' and it was pretty near the knuckle, especially with the in-jokes based on gay culture - a totally taboo subject at the time, it still being illegal. Such as:

    (Loud declamatory voice): I need good men behind me!
    (Voice of Kenneth Williams): Oooh, nice...

    And in the late sixties the Beeb banned any record they thought had a whiff of drugs in, while letting through other stuff such as the Small Faces' 'Itchycoo Park', which is as steeped in acid as anything I've heard.
  • L.
    by L. 2 months ago
    No I haven't seen it - not really my kind of film or comedy.
  • sirtanicmills
    by sirtanicmills 2 months ago
    L, it was a radio programme, before many people had TVs.

    Quite Richard. Many druggy examples. But it was the political bannings that generated most ire - protest songs and stuff. Eve of Destruction, for example, was seen as seditious and banned by many radio stations - I think the Beeb had it on some sort of restricted list.

    Eve of Destruction still resonates today, unfortunately.

    "But you tell me
    Over and over and over again my friend
    Ah, you don't believe
    We're on the eve of destruction"
  • sirtanicmills
    by sirtanicmills 2 months ago
    A quick Google reveals some hilarious examples of songs banned by Auntie Beeb.

    I can't vouch for the accuracy of this (it's from Wiki) but this gives a flavour of the delights in store.

    "The BBC has banned songs from the following artists; Cliff Richard, Frank Sinatra, Noël Coward, The Beatles, Ken Dodd, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, the BBC Dance Orchestra, Glenn Miller, and George Formby. In addition, 67 songs were banned from BBC airplay as the first Gulf War began, including ABBA's "Waterloo", Queen's "Killer Queen" and The Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays"."

    Hard to believe some of them.
  • Monica Handle
    by Monica Handle 2 months ago
    And yet the BBC allowed Kenny Everett to create a character called Cupid Stunt. Who was introduced as such, during a kind of spoof interview, by none other than Michael Parkinson.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    ... not to mention the vile things certain BBC DJs and presenters were up to in the 70s.
    Talk about double standards!
  • Monica Handle
    by Monica Handle 2 months ago
    RichardB - I occasionally listen to episodes of Round the Horne, just to reacquaint myself with the outrageous puns and filthy Polari word play. "We've got a criminal practice that takes up most of our time" springs to mind. And 'The Bona World of Julian and Sandy' is another rich seam of seedy innuendo. Fantabulosa!
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 2 months ago
    I think I've heard that one MH - wasn't Julian and Sandy's legal practice called 'Bona Law'?

    One of the first lines of the Polari Bible is fantastic - 'And Gloria said, let there be sparkle'
  • John Taylor
    by John Taylor 2 months ago
    People have played that game with the Beeb since Dylan Thomas wrote a 'play for voices' about a backward little town called Llareggub in 'Under Milk Wood' - 1954.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    Tnellecxe!
  • Monica Handle
    by Monica Handle 2 months ago
    Daedalus - I believe it was. I wish I could remember the line, delivered by Kenneth Williams, which goes 'Something - something - something, and INNUENDO!', thus brilliantly making a self-referential joke about the word itself. You have to imagine the high pitched, nasal emphasis. Sorry if I'm leading us off topic....
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 2 months ago
    And what about Rambling Sid Rumpo?

    'Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night when the coppers aren't about.' (The Song of the Lincolnshire Bogle Clencher)
  • Barny
    by Barny 2 months ago
    @MH - Possibly the line is "I can't stand innuendo. If I see one in a script I whip it out immediately"
  • sirtanicmills
    by sirtanicmills 2 months ago
    Polari!!! Yes Richard, thats the language I tried to recall but failed.

    Wasn't aware of the "Gloria" line Daeds but that has made my day :-D

    Here's one for you, me Dearios.

    Joe, he was a young cordwangler,
    Munging greebles he did go,
    And he loved a bogler's daughter
    By the name of Chiswick Flo.

    Vain she was and like a grusset
    Though her gander parts were fine,
    But she sneered at his cordwangle
    As it hung upon the line.

    So he stole a woggler's mooly
    For to make a wedding ring,
    But the Bow Street Runners caught him
    And the judge said "He will swing."

    Oh, they hung him by the postern,
    Nailed his mooly to the fence
    For to warn all young cordwanglers
    That it was a grave offence.

    There's a moral to this story,
    Though your cordwangle be poor,
    Keep your hands off other's moolies,
    For it is against the law.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 2 months ago
    And the earth was nanti form, and void; and munge was upon the eke of the deep. And the Fairy of Gloria trolled upon the eke of the aquas.
  • Athelstone
    by Athelstone 2 months ago
    I barely remember 'Round the Horne' but I remember its predecessor 'Beyond Our Ken' very well. I think the difference was that my staunchly Methodist parents didn't quite see the smut and innuendo in 'Beyond our Ken' even though Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams rehearsed the characters of Julian and Sandy with Rodney and Charles. I remember being ill with flu aged about 6 or 7. The wireless was solemnly brought up next to my bed and plugged in so that I wouldn't miss an episode of 'Beyond'. All that ended with 'Round the Horne'. I think the change to Barry Took and Marty Feldman inspired a bit of censorship in my household.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    There is a play about 'round the Horne' but I cannot remember whether I saw it o the stage or on TV. One of Noel Coward's songs 'Mad about the Boy' had usually been sung by women!
    Nobody (in the job I had) cared about people's sexual orientation and there was nothing in anybody's behaviour to indicate their sexual preferences.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    Yesterday morning, I strolled aimlessly around the West End and landed up at the BFI where there was a free screening for those who have freedom passes. A lecturer gave an introduction to the film and he was of the opinion that the director, Basil Deardon, should be given the same recognition as David Lean and drew out attention to 'The Victim' which he said was the first film to deal openly with homosexuality with the theme of blackmail. The film that was shown is 'All Night Long'
    This is a re-imagining of Othello and is set in a jazz club. Dankworth, Brubeck and many other jazz musicians of the time have acting and playing roles. Patrick Maguin - of Danger Man and The Prisoner played Iago character and he also played the drums.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    That looks excellent, Mike. I have had a look on YouTube. From this description, who could resist?

    "A fascinating psychodrama that combines Shakespeare with the beatnik beat of the 1960s London club scene – this is Othello accompanied by cool jazz. The movie takes place over the course of several hours during a surprise anniversary party thrown by Rodney Hamilton (Richard Attenborough) in honor of happily married bandleader Aurelius Rex (Paul Harris) and his wife Delia (Marti Stevens), a now-retired chanteuse. Their Iago is the band’s drummer, Johnny Cousin (brilliantly played by Patrick McGoohan), whose jealousy and ambition drives him to play others as blithely as he would chessboard pawns. Planting seeds of doubt and suspicion over the course of the evening using innuendo, a pilfered cigarette case and an altered recording of a private conversation, Johnny finally convinces Rex that Delia has been unfaithful to him; goading Rex into a jealous rage.

    Along with adding appeal for jazz aficionados, music legends Dave Brubeck, Johnny Dankworth, Paul Mingus, Tubby Hayes, Charles Mingus, and Kenny Napper accentuate the film’s vibe as party guests and band members who perform periodically throughout, and there is also a cameo by former dance star Geoffrey Holder. One of the films selected for release by the prestigious Criterion Collection, “All Night Long” is an entertaining and evocative watch, richly laced with strains of classic jazz, passion, and clouds of cigarette smoke. Highly recommended."
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 2 months ago
    I haven't see All Night Long but I do know Victim. I think it was re-released recently to mark the anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act? I was aware of its mould-breaking subject matter but not that it was the first English language film to even use the word homosexual. A very powerful film and one of Dirk Bogarde's best performances IMO. Interestingly, another fine performance and a very different one came a couple of years later in The Servant, which takes a much darker view of the erosion of established social structures and norms.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    ... and the last book is being added by the artist in half an hour. As from tomorrow, the redistribution starts to members of the public:
    http://www.documenta14.de/en/news/25206/the-parthenon-of-books-celebration-of-the-accomplishment-of-the-collection-of-forbidden-books
  • Monica Handle
    by Monica Handle 2 months ago
    Weirdly, re: documenta, from this week's 'Funny Old World' column in Private Eye:

    "The concept for this exhibition was born when I began visiting galleries," art critic Jessica Dawson told a press conference in Brookfield Place, Lower Manhattan, "accompanied by my rescue dog Rocky. It was clear that Rocky saw art differently than humans, and I realised he had something to teach humans about contemporary art. Here is the result: dOCGMENTA, the world's first art show specifically designed to appeal to canines.

    "Our exhibition takes its name from Documenta, the contemporary art survey that takes place every five years in Kassel. Unlike most exhibitions, dogs are invited to climb onto each piece and interact with the works in whatever way they desire, whether that means eating, drinking, or even peeing on the art. When Rocky first saw the Carl Andre exhibit, for example, he just went and sat on it, vibrating with pleasure. He doesn't have the inhibitions we do. I admire the way he went straight up to the work, his fearlessness. We can all learn about looking from Rocky, learn that art and life are one. I recall Proust, who said 'the real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.'" (Art Forum, 15/8/17), and artnet News 11/8/17.

    I offer no comment.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 2 months ago
    Bork bork you are doing me a confuse
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    :) Haven't seen Private Eye for ages. Is there still a Pseuds' Corner?
  • Monica Handle
    by Monica Handle 2 months ago
    There is, and I found earlier a candidate for it. Howard Jacobson, writing in his Saturday Guardian column, comments on briefcases and satchels he has owned, thus: "... my professor's Leonhard Heyden Salisbury, capacious enough to carry the complete works of Kafka and Kundera; my battered cognac Bridge bag for literary festivals; my svelte Jasper Blue Fabriano folio case that holds a single Point of View for Radio 4. Bags denoting confidence and authority."

    If only I had something suitable to hold my manuscript for Radio 4's 'Point of View'. I'm sure they are just about to ask me to contribute. It's a worry.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    Priceless! Think I'll stick to being a bag lady
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    Dear SecretSpi,
    I notice you have a slight understanding of modern art. I suggest you visit the new six story extension to the Tate Modern. All the walls are white - pure matt white - and there are no pictures exhibited; and neither is the floor space used. I suspect the curators had no wish to mar wooden planks. There is a splendid staircase. As you ascend, this marvel assumes the shape of a fire escape. There is, however, a lift of a conventional nature. As the lift rises, a voice from above indicates a members room, a conference room, a restaurant and a staff only floor. There are glass rectangular boxes placed on the floors thought the extension. These boxes have colourful interior displays which consist of a random display of banknotes and coins. iI is suggested, that their number be increased. You might be approached by one of the Tate Modern staff but do not be alarmed. The wish is that you fill in a questionnaire and it soon become clear what is required. Do you know the name of the sponsor of the exhibition?
    But there is one room - rather hidden, In this room, tables and chairs are displayed and paper and pencils placed on the surfaces. Washing lines are strung across the room and pretty women with posh badges ask you to fill in a page of paper accounting your experience of visiting Tate Modern - then hang your production on the washing line.
    I do find the place stimulating. The Globe is next door. My contribution to the washing line was called ‘After Magritte’ and it was an interpretation of a Shakespeare play which included variations on the interpretations of plays staged over the past year.
    I suspect there is an incinerator somewhere in the building - a remnant of the building’s previous use as a power station - still producing gas, some might say. I suspect my contribution to Tate Modern has been burnt.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    One day, although my visits to London are few and infrequent these days. I'd rephrase it to say I have a slight appreciation rather than understanding. I wouldn't go that far.

    At least your contribution wasn't banned or bombed, as far as you know.
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    Do you remember E.H.Gombrich? I am reading a book called 'A little history of the World' It had originally been published in Germany in 1936 and then banned. There seems to be no real reason for this, An introduction says that this was because it was too pacifist. Gombrich was of Jewish descent and left Germany for England before the second world war started. So Gombrich counts as a proscribed writer.
    He is remembered for the statement: 'There is no art, there are only artists" I don't think this applies today. I wonder if you can say 'There are no books, there are only authors.' Perhaps this lo longer applies too.
  • SecretSpi
    by SecretSpi 2 months ago
    I will have a look out and see if I can find an original German version in a second-hand book shop here.
    I suppose his point is where does the artist stop and the work of art start, or vice versa.
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