Many people have suggested that Plokta is insufficiently sercon. We therefore sent our intrepid reporter off to a fine art exhibition in a vain attempt to raise the tone.

Flower Arranging

A few weeks ago I went to the Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Hayward gallery. I admire his photography (honest!) and anyway all the papers were full of the show and how Esther Rantzen had tried to have it censored without having seen any of the pictures... So I took a long lunchbreak one day and hopped on the train down to Waterloo. This was my second attempt, the first time I turned away when I encountered the end of the queue half-way down the South Bank. But that was a Saturday and this was the middle of the week.

And, indeed, there was virtually no queue at all so I paid my fiver and strode purposefully into the den of iniquity. Mind you, there weren't even any protesters, no slobbering morons from the Metropolitan Police trying to ban it, nothing. I don't know, they make all that fuss about the Internet and then they just let anybody into an exhibition of photographs just bound to deprave and corrupt you. I mean, I certainly wouldn't let my servants in to see it (assuming I had any, of course) and that was just the pictures of flowers. Froth, froth, chews carpet, takes deep breath.

In fact, according to one of the newspaper reviews there were even small children being dragged around, reacting in the usual bored way that children do to displays of High Culture ("Mummy, mummy, why's that man pissing in that other man's mouth?" "It's probably symbolic of something, dear"). Not that there were any children there when I went, not unless you count art students as children, which personally I often feel like doing. What were there were lots of people, like me, wandering around exclaiming at the beauty of the lighting on this flower and the artistry of the shadows falling on that penis and so on. Some of the pictures were stunning, some were just good, some were... strange. And that might have been that if I hadn't noticed something slightly odd.

There I was, standing against a wall looking at the opposite wall which had photographs three deep on it. And then I noticed that the pictures were not arranged by style, or period or even all the nudes together and all the flowers together. In fact, they were arranged in patterns. On the wall in front of me were nine pictures in a square, three by three. And they looked something like this:

Flower Genitalia Flower
Genitalia Flower Genitalia
Flower Genitalia Flower

I had immense difficulty in keeping a straight face. I looked around and suddenly patterns started jumping out at me. A row of five heads, followed by a row consisting of genitals, genitals, flower, genitals, genitals and then another row of five heads. Pairs of groins and guns arranged in a zig-zag. And that's not all. There were several series where each picture appeared to be reacting to its neighbours. A man with his hand up against the light next to a shot of sunlight pouring in through a blind onto a vase of flowers. A picture of a woman looking back over her shoulder at a picture of a black man in a leopardskin, waving a spear at her. Two children pointing at a picture of a man looking embarrassed.

So I spent more time looking for patterns in the hanging than I did admiring Mapplethorpe's mastery of photography and didn't get depraved or corrupted. Hummph! Just so it wasn't a complete waste, I went and looked at Anthony Gormley's installation 'Field for the British Isles'. It looked back at me. There's something about a room jam-packed full of 30,000 little pottery figures all staring at you with huge eyes that is a bit difficult to take. Especially when you've been going around staring at rooms full of naked people and flowers in suggestive poses. It makes you wonder whether you should be posing with your fist up someone's bum yourself.

So I went back to work suffering from a surfeit of culture and the vague feeling that perhaps there was something in this art nonsense after all.

-- Steve Davies

Previous Article

Next Article

Issue Contents

Plokta Index

Visit the Plokta News Network: News and comment for SF fandom