The year of 2012 will go down in history in British sport, that was obvious the day we won the games in 2005, and a record haul in medals, of course, helped.
The arts however also had they’re memorable moments, some better than others, and in true end of the year journalistic fashion, here is my list of unforgettable occurrences in the world of art from the past 12 months. Some are good, some the art world would rather forget, but here they are, in no particular order:
Opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics
Each opening and closing ceremony was spectacular from the forging of the Olympic rings in Danny Boyle’s quirky and quintessentially British ceremony to the moving Paralympic ceremony based on ‘The Tempest’ by William Shakespeare. Each ceremony was filled with moments highlighting Britain’s cultural significance, each as affecting as the next. Since this is an art compilation however, then one particular moment must stand out. The tribute to the victims of the London 7/7 was a piece of modern dance choreographed by Akram Khan to ‘Abide With Me’ performed by Emeli Sande. This was not only a poignant tribute to the victims, but it was also a beautifully choreographed piece of dance, a well placed minimalist moment in a fast paced show.
This sadly is not one of the best cultural highlights of the year. In October this year Wlodzimierz Umaniec defaced ‘Black on Maroon’, part of the Seagram Murals in Tate’s collection. This act of vandalism was supposedly part of Umaniec’s movement ‘Yellowism’, and according to Umaniec writing his name and ‘A potential piece of Yellowism’ was meant to add value to the painting. Instead this is another in a long list of defaced artworks, questioning the security we have to look after our treasured cultural items.
The launch of the new space at Tate Modern this year was cause for much celebration especially for those interested or working in performance, installation or video art. The Tanks give art works in those media a permanent space for investigation. The Tanks is a large area that used to house oil, and is now separated into larger areas for performances and installation and smaller spaces. Unlike the rest of Tate Modern, the Tanks have retained their industrial atmosphere by resisting by traditional of white clean walls. The Tanks is the space of 2012 and the one to watch for 2013.
This of course is the valiant but mistaken attempt of restoring a 19th century fresco. The fresco, originally created by Elías Garcia Martinez was in need of repair when Cecilia Giménez took it upon herself to try and restore this work. On the positive side the original fresco is now known worldwide as a masterpiece, on a negative and slightly cynical note, however, the restorer’s works are now being sold on eBay, with one painting selling for $14,000. It is important to note however, that the money made from the sale of her painting will go towards the charity Caritas.
Jude Law at The Turner Prize
Jude Law announced the winner of this year’s Turner Prize, but it was his speech on the government’s view of the arts and education which stood out. Jude Law called the government’s plan an act of “cultural vandalism.” The coalition intends to change the GCSE’s in England to one Baccalaureate containing just English, Math’s and Science, therefore excluding drama, music, design and art. Calling the Ebacc, as it is more commonly known, an act of “cultural vandalism” in the light of recent acts of defacement mentioned earlier is strong, but it is true. Leaving my cultural pride aside for a moment and considering the economic benefits of the arts, there is no case for leaving the arts out of education. It would not only wound our culture but our economy. According to the Department for culture, media and sport’s latest statistics published December 2011, the “Creative Industries” contributed 2.9% of the UK’s Gross Value Added in 2009, an increase on 2008.
Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!