If it makes you jump, is it art?
If it keeps you laughing, is it art? If it’s a massive cast iron construction with a sign warning: Fragile, do not touch – Is it art? If it’s heaps of concrete squeezed out onto pallets… Well, it’s definitely Anish Kapoor anyway.
The Kapoor exhibition is currently on at London’s Royal Academy of the Arts till December 11th. It’s hilarious. You should go.
It’s mainly sculpture, but not as you know it. I was laughing at it most of the time. But with delight.You have the hall of mirrors reflecting light and sound. (Vertigo & others.)What distinguishes it from a fairground attraction? The posh hall. Nothing else. Choose your mirror to see yourself stretched, squashed or inverted. I saw a couple walk through the room. He was a walking Giacometti. She was round and teeny. That was without the mirrors. I kept a straight face then. The rest of the time I was laughing.
And there’s the cannon, which every 40 minutes fires a cylinder of red wax. (Shooting into the Corner) Before each firing time a crowd squeezes close to watch. The cannon is loaded. Gas pressure builds up with a low hiss. On edge, we await the trigger. There’s a bang – the crowd jumps – the projectile leaves the barrel of the gun with a squiff, flies across the room and lands in the morass of previously fired red wax with a dull thud. Apparently it travel at 80km/h. Sometimes it hits the opposite wall. Usually it falls short. Oi! Kapoor! You’re making a mess of the place.
There’s a lot of sprinkled powder round and coating objects, black, yellow, pink and three colours red – cadmium red, alizarin crimson and blood red. Hindu Holi style. (1000 Names)
If you’re a builder, don’t miss the room of wooden pallets piled high with concrete squeezings. They look like giant sand worm castes. (Greyman cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked)
So leave the rough old twisting piles of grey concrete behind. Suddenly you’re confronted with huge orifices, glistening, shiny, red, intriguing, inviting. Don’t try to climb in, you’ll get told off. They’re combined with hidden chambers (Hive) or serpentine tubes resembling some intestinal tuba (Slug).
What does it all mean? The biggest exhibit is a forty-ton red block of wax, paint and vaseline. (Svayambh – Sanskrit for “born by itself” or “self-generated”.) It’s kind of train shaped. It travels almost too slow to perceive movement along tracks, through rooms, squeezing through archways, shedding and scraping off gloopy waxy lumps as it goes.
When shown in Berlin, it was associated with the Holocaust – cattle trucks to Auschwitz etc. In London it’s apparently associated with the network of railway tunnels under the city. And no doubt something plausible will be made up for the next place it’s shown.
So, all a load of nonsense. And the artist seems to agree. He says: “It’s not my role to be expressive. I’ve got nothing to say, I don’t have any message to give anyone.”
But I do. And the message is this. Don’t miss this life-affirming enjoyment.