Namibia is not particularly close to Mount Kilimanjaro
January 15, 2019 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Artist's installation in African desert to play "Africa" forever.
posted by Chrysostom (88 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
"[I] wanted to pay the song the ultimate homage and physically exhibit 'Africa' in Africa," explains the 27-year-old artist.

But will it be assembled by one hundred, perhaps slightly more, men?

"Most parts of the installation were chosen to be as durable as possible, but I'm sure the harsh environment of the desert will devour the installation eventually."

But safe from the rains they have down there. Well played.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:13 PM on January 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


I can't imagine an iPod and a bunch of laptop speakers will last very long outside, but serious points for effort
posted by BungaDunga at 8:23 PM on January 15, 2019


this is ridiculous and I can't tell how I feel about it
posted by yueliang at 8:36 PM on January 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


There is art and there is art. This is definitely art, but I'm not sure I really regard it to be art.
posted by hippybear at 8:39 PM on January 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


And I only say this because the guy who did it is described as an artist.

In other contexts he might be regarded as a public noise nuisance, at best.
posted by hippybear at 8:40 PM on January 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


I’m willing to bet the total amount of royalties that “Africa” has ever earned that the artist set this up in a non-working state just long enough to film it for 6 minutes and 28 seconds, then loaded the rented pedestals and borrowed speakers back in his van and went home to splice “Africa” over the footage. Bonus side bet that it wasn’t even in the vast area he outlined on his website, but rather the closest desert area to his home.

This last summer my brother was using his iPhone to stream music by the pool and it shut off due to overheating in the savage Philadelphia sun. But I’m totally sure Max’s iPhone will play forever in a sub-Saharan desert.
posted by ejs at 8:42 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


I can't imagine an iPod and a bunch of laptop speakers will last very long outside

I'd call that a feature, not a bug; but to each their own...seems a shame to intrude on the natural state of that astounding natural environment.

Seriously though, that installation looks like the absolute opposite of "durable" - which for all I know might be the artist's real objective, especially since it features a song by a bunch of white guys. I mean, I've got nothing against the song itself, and I honestly know nothing about capital-A Art; but I have a tiny hunch that the stated intent might be the opposite of the real one. And if so, kudos to the artist.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:42 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Seidentopf is a self-described "creative" at an ad agency, so I'm not saying he's not an artist, but he is also professionally something else other than an artist.

Also, if I were lost in the Namib desert and I heard a distant noise thinking it would lead me to civilization and safety, and with my last steps came across this monstrosity, "what a cool ironic installation" would not be my first thought.
posted by xigxag at 8:45 PM on January 15, 2019 [31 favorites]


Not claiming I'm an artist (modesty means I'll leave that to others to say of me) but I'm suddenly inspired to create a Rolling Stones themed cloud computing project which simply returns 403 Forbidden to every request.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:00 PM on January 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


I took a flight from Windhoek to Johannesburg once and I can report that “Africa” was playing very unironically on the plane PA during boarding.
posted by theodolite at 9:03 PM on January 15, 2019 [13 favorites]


simply returns 403 Forbidden to every request

Perhaps it could occasionally return 416 Range Not Satisfiable?
posted by sysinfo at 9:28 PM on January 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


I’m willing to bet the total amount of royalties that “Africa” has ever earned that the artist set this up in a non-working state just long enough to film it for 6 minutes and 28 seconds, then loaded the rented pedestals and borrowed speakers back in his van and went home to splice “Africa” over the footage. Bonus side bet that it wasn’t even in the vast area he outlined on his website, but rather the closest desert area to his home.

Just because this guy took some time to do the things we never had doesn't mean we should be cynical about it.

Also, if I were lost in the Namib desert and I heard a distant noise thinking it would lead me to civilization and safety, and with my last steps came across this monstrosity, "what a cool ironic installation" would not be my first thought.

I bet if you are out there and find it, you'd be glad for the solitary company.

Anyways, since we're all out in the desert searching for some platonic ideal of Africa, here's a few previous threads - cover versions of Africa; Africa (pitch shifted); Africa (off key/beat); Africa played in an empty mall; Africa on the Floppotron; Africa in mime/lipsync by an OSV crew.

There's probably more out there, lost in the desert, frightened of this thing they've become.
posted by nubs at 9:33 PM on January 15, 2019 [14 favorites]


Seidentopf is a self-described "creative" at an ad agency

Ah, he's a bullshit artist.
posted by deadwax at 9:46 PM on January 15, 2019 [11 favorites]


Ugh fuck this stupid bullshit. Everything about this is indulgent western nonsense.

Human beings leave enough polluting rubbish in our few true wildernesses; Africa is not just a canvas for stupid white people jokes; the song has nothing to do with African; Africa is not a country ARGGHHH. *choking noises*
posted by smoke at 9:56 PM on January 15, 2019 [43 favorites]


More fire!
posted by ethansr at 9:57 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I run a sound system at Burning Man and I absolutely guarantee that this is no longer playing music. That iPod would overheat in about an hour.
posted by Amplify at 10:02 PM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Africa is not a country ARGGHHH.

PSA: Africa is over 3x the size of the US and contains 54 countries.

It's not a country, it's a continent.

I'm not typing this to be condescending. This is something that people in Western countries tend to forget. I had to look it all up. I try to remind myself of these things when I read about "Africa" as a thing:. 3x the size, over 50 countries.

My partner was in the Peace Corp in the 70s in the Congo. We can't even go do a "where you were then" visit to where he was then because what it is now is too dangerous. Africa is a vast, dynamic place which can never be taken in as a whole. How do you lump Egypt in with South Africa? Like, it's not possible.

This art project is stupid. There was a video making the rounds, possibly FPP'd here, of some celebrity couple honeymooning and filming themselves lip-synching to Africa all across Africa. That was also stupid.

The song is beautiful and will likely live for generations. All these other things attached to it, they need to find their own reason for existing and not hanging it on a whimsical, melodic, harmonic song from the charts 30+ years ago. If you can't stand on your own, you aren't art, you're commentary.
posted by hippybear at 10:12 PM on January 15, 2019 [11 favorites]


It'll last forever. Or at least until a strong wind rips those tiny speakers off their pedestals.
posted by el io at 10:13 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


The installation recapitulates the brazenness of thinking you can pass off "As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti" as having the same number of syllables as "As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company" so that all checks out, I guess.
posted by juv3nal at 10:14 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


This really felt to me like a white person stunt, until I found out that they're Namibian, and had to grudgingly admit that maybe the artist's relationship to the song was not defined entirely by Western culture's dismissal of Africa and African culture. Like, surely he knows about actual songs that were born in that desert and could have chosen to immortalise those, and not doing so is part of the work.

Then I found out he does advertising, and I'm right back to thinking this is crass bullshit.
posted by Merus at 10:35 PM on January 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


A true artist would have installed Toto themselves out in the desert, to play Africa on endless loop.
posted by chavenet at 10:48 PM on January 15, 2019 [14 favorites]


A true artist would have installed Africans out on the endless desert, to play Toto on endless loop.
posted by Merus at 10:52 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Am I allowed to cover Toto and the song with the sands of this endless desert
posted by solarion at 11:16 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


hipster shit
posted by philip-random at 11:25 PM on January 15, 2019


Here's the artist's website.

Since the artist was born/raised in Namibia and his German-Namibian family still lives there, this probably is actually in Namibia.

Though, as others have mentioned, the solar-powered phone is probably overheated and dead by now.
posted by eye of newt at 11:26 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks it’s strange that the installation has no footprints around it, only “pristine” ripples of wind blown sand?

Also, this now amounts to non functioning cast-off pop culture garbage from a Western European country polluting the desert, irony or not. In other words, a thought provoking artistic commentary and anyone who finds delight in this is part of the piece.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:28 PM on January 15, 2019


A small plane flies over the installation. From it falls a classic Coca Cola bottle, nearly striking a nomad, lost in contemplation.

Their concentration broken, they mutter "'Total Eclipse of the Heart' is a better song with a way weirder video" as they walk towards the remains of the bottle, broken when it struck a corner of the installation.

There is a piece of paper among the shards of glass. A note. The nomad's brow creases in awe.

"The gods are crazy. A fucking DMCA take-down notice?"
posted by maxwelton at 11:35 PM on January 15, 2019 [40 favorites]


MeFi: Ugh fuck this stupid bullshit.
posted by fairmettle at 11:41 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


This really felt to me like a white person stunt,

Did you know Namibian-German is a thing? He's white.

Then I found out he does advertising, and I'm right back to thinking this is crass bullshit.

Here's a website he has and here's his Instagram.

Am I allowed to cover Toto and the song with the sands of this endless desert

It's solar powered and there's a link to a map in the article.

I didn't link to the map because I'm making a point. Is this what we want in a FPP? I'm not arguing the topic, I'm arguing the substance gaiz. If we're gonna do biographical posts, can we link the biographical deets?
posted by saysthis at 11:42 PM on January 15, 2019


But will it be assembled by one hundred, perhaps slightly more, men?

No, common misconception. It's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do—which is to say, it's something that a hundred men or more could never manage. Only a group of men of less than a hundred could ever accomplish it.
posted by The Tensor at 11:48 PM on January 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


Poorly executed. The wiring in particular is crap. Should have used Bluetooth speakers, or failing that, at least buried the wiring. The plinths are poorly constructed and not level or accurately oriented. Not sure this gets a B.
posted by Segundus at 11:50 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Here's a website he has and here's his Instagram.

his other art is neither particularly terrible nor particularly interesting but more notably he has a poorly concealed foot fetish
posted by poffin boffin at 12:08 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


If we're gonna do biographical posts, can we link the biographical deets?

I would argue the post is not biographical, unless you consider every post that is "person has done something" to be biographical.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:30 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, fuck this guy who makes a living in one of the fields people go into when they study art. It’s not real art if a company pays for it. Also, fuck him for making an art installation in the country he grew up in.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:01 AM on January 16, 2019 [12 favorites]


Seriously, you don’t have to like this, but I don’t think it’s a great argument if your criticism centers on the fact that he works for an ad agency. Because it implies that anyone who works for an ad agency must be motivated by attention, rather than pure expression, or something. Which... I mean, I was reading about a prominent, celebrated artist and MacArthur fellow, who took a commission from Goldman Sachs. I don’t know what a person expects, if working for an ad agency is unforgivable and taints that persons work.

I don’t think it’s a staggering work of genius. It’s not because he probably once designed an ad for diapers, or something. This installation feels like it was born out of a dumb pop culture trend, and it doesn’t feel like it actually does very much beyond surprise you with “oh wow, it’s actually in Africa.” I’m mostly just not interested in it.

This is very different from someone visiting Africa and slip-syncing to Toto, though. This guy grew up in Namibia. I don’t know about social and racial politics in Namibia to comment on much, except to say that it’s not as if he just flew in to make a viral thing about some exotic place. It’s totally possible that this fits in with racial politics in that country in an unfortunate way, but honestly, I know next to nothing about him. I mean, there’s not much to go on except that he’s obviously got more than a superficial connection to the setting. Maybe he’s intending this to be commentary on colonialism in the country of his childhood, or maybe he just wants to get some notoriety. It’s unclear.

Like I said, I don’t care if you hate this, but the reaction here seems about a thousand degrees hotter than I would have expected.

This site can be extremely hostile sometimes, and this reads to me like one of those times.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:21 AM on January 16, 2019 [24 favorites]


Yeah, fuck this guy who makes a living in one of the fields people go into when they study art. It’s not real art if a company pays for it. Also, fuck him for making an art installation in the country he grew up in.

Fuck this guy for leaving a pile of trash in a national park, to make a stupid memey joke.

I reject the contention that because he's from Namibia this is any less clueless. If an American left 4 bags of garbage in Yellowstone national park with Yogi Bear's face on them, we would think that was facile and stupid - even if they were American - wouldn't we?

I am negative about littering in national parks, it's a total dick move and I always will feel that way. I think doing it for likes is especially dickish, as this very thing has provoked an explosion of shitty behaviour in national parks, and I wish people would actually, you know, think about and respect nature for what it is instead of fucking around with it and inserting themselves in it.
posted by smoke at 1:29 AM on January 16, 2019 [21 favorites]


Yeah, but that’s a different reaction than “ad agency? Fuck this guy.” I agree that leaving shit out in nature is a bad thing to do, especially a bunch of e-waste that will just sit there for thousands of years.

It’s not like I think this is above criticism. I’m just frustrated by the shape that criticism has tended to take in this thread.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:34 AM on January 16, 2019 [10 favorites]


I don't know, I honestly don't feel that making the link between "trite art based on a meme just on the point of getting washed, that will tarnish the planet" and "ad agency worker" is really so unreasonable of a thought.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:03 AM on January 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


That may be true, Ominous, but Haunts has a point: a lot of artists who cannot make a full time living with their work get their rent money working for agencies - I've worked with some great artists and incredibly creative people in agencies; we shouldn't discriminate on job alone.

Thankfully, I feel like the art speaks for itself in this case.
posted by smoke at 2:25 AM on January 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


So, like, the article makes it seem like this is a remote unfindable location in the middle of a desert, but people live in deserts. And some of those people now have a nice new sound system. Good for them, I hope they play some better music on it.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:25 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


poffin boffin: "notably he has a poorly concealed foot fetish"

Well duh. Why else would your art installation focus on Toto?
posted by chavenet at 3:40 AM on January 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


I don't hate this, but I am profoundly unimpressed by it.

The "Africa" meme is, indeed, a dead horse at this point. The internet doesn't know when to let things go.

And, honestly, that whole genre of reference-for-the-sake-of-reference meme - in which the internet collectively chooses some arbitrary pop-culture artifact, and declares "this is a punchline now" - isn't particularly clever when it's fresh. Like, yeah - "Africa" is a silly song. Whatever humor we can derive by pointing that out was exhausted a long time ago.

Sorry not sorry. I blame Seth MacFarlane.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:21 AM on January 16, 2019 [11 favorites]


Yeah, but that’s a different reaction than “ad agency? Fuck this guy.”

Maybe using 'ad agency' as a synedoche for 'immersed primarily in Western culture and willing to ride roughshod over African culture for attention' isn't particularly precise. I can't speak for anyone else, but my complaint is less that at some point they've had contact with the ad industry, and more that this seems crass to me, I acknowledge that there might be something to it that I'm not getting which would make it not crass, and that I think the probability of that is pretty low given what I now know about the artist.
posted by Merus at 5:16 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Operation Hell On Earth (Ocean In The Desert), 2019
posted by tummy_rub at 5:23 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Seriously, you don’t have to like this, but I don’t think it’s a great argument if your criticism centers on the fact that he works for an ad agency.

For the record, my criticism did not center on the fact that he works for an ad agency, as I myself work for an ad agency. My criticism centers on this being memey, trolly nonsense, which if it is even real is on a level with Casey Nocket defacing national parks, but most likely is low-level YouTube prank being credulously reported on by websites who would rather perpetuate memey, trolly nonsense than engage in critical thinking.
posted by ejs at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


My criticism is that it's a terrible song by a terrible band. Why not Tinariwen, Ali Farka Toure, Fela Kuti, etc, etc.

Also, it isn't a very clever idea.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 5:48 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


For the record, my mention of the fact that he works at an ad agency (one of the partners, actually, of KesselsKramer), was partly about his job, but more about the fact that he styles himself as a "creative," which to me is a distinct kind of ambition from artist, with differing goals and values. Consequently to merely say "he's an artist" isn't telling the whole story. If someone publishes a work of science, it's also informative to note they may have values that conflict with pure science, e.g. they work for ExxonMobil, while assessing their work.

But even standing on its own merits, the work strikes me as banal and wasteful. In that it introduces 24/7 noise pollution into a natural environment for the sake of a freaking meme that will be personally experienced by almost no-one, and will quickly degrade into literal garbage with no value to anyone. It seems so self-indulgent and colonial. Compare with another one of his pieces, Funny Money, in which he, a white man, pays a bunch of black Namibians to pose with a pittance of money, some of them topless, which may be perfectly ok to them but in the context of the male colonial gaze is highly problematic at best. I mean, your white mama is "Namibian"; take a topless picture of her holding money, asshole! So, in sum, I'm not that impressed with the overall tone of his work, however well intentioned.
posted by xigxag at 6:10 AM on January 16, 2019 [7 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks it’s strange that the installation has no footprints around it, only “pristine” ripples of wind blown sand?

It might just be you, but that's only because there clearly are footprints all around it.
posted by biffa at 6:24 AM on January 16, 2019


Metafilter: frightened of this thing that I’ve become
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:00 AM on January 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


My criticism is that it's a terrible song by a terrible band. Why not Tinariwen, Ali Farka Toure, Fela Kuti, etc, etc.

Also, it isn't a very clever idea.


Those bands wouldn't work, because they are actually African. He's contrasting the image of Africa (as portrayed by Western artists) with the reality. His "Funny Money" series is similar (which I find to be thought provoking - and still a bit unsettling, but it's meant to be). I think he's very aware that his experience, as a white African, is different from black Africans - but it's also different from white foreigners. He's African, and yet he's not (at least in our eyes) - and there is a lot of tension there.
posted by jb at 7:42 AM on January 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


And on the pedestal, these words appear:
It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:53 AM on January 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


I get the sense that MetaFilter would have really hated readymades had the site existed in the 1910s.

It is interesting, though, how by simply claiming the identity of 'artist' a creator of a work frees the audience to interpretations that would otherwise seem ridiculous or inaccessible. But we also have to choose to trust that they're being earnest.

Some of us believe it. We find the meta-narrative of the work as a commentary on colonialism, meme culture, superficiality, and an individual's relationship to a people and place compelling. For others it is equivalent to Logan Paul being an ass and playing it off as a social experiment—a bunch of pollution. And I guess for others still, it seems both believable and trite.

You do you.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 8:25 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Duchamp is one of my favorite artists. My boredom with this work has nothing to do with the "recontextualized artifact" aspect of it.

And it's not that I don't find the commentary compelling; it's that I don't see any such commentary being made in the first place. Based on the brief BBC article, the beginning and end of this piece is "yo dawg we heard you like Africa so we put 'Africa' in your Africa LOL".

If that's a commentary on colonialism or meme culture...then maybe we need higher standards for commentary. There's nothing in the content of the piece that seems to make any particular point about anything, unless we're just casting about for tangentally related topics and saying "it must be about this".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


I get the sense that MetaFilter would have really hated readymades had the site existed in the 1910s.

I didn't like readymades in the 1990s - and I was a Duchamp fan. (Or maybe just a wanna-be Dadaist).
posted by jb at 8:38 AM on January 16, 2019


Meanwhile the iPod downloads a system update, reboots, and begins playing U2’s Songs of Innocence on loop instead.
posted by ardgedee at 8:58 AM on January 16, 2019 [17 favorites]


> escape from the potato planet:
"Based on the brief BBC article, the beginning and end of this piece is "yo dawg we heard you like Africa so we put 'Africa' in your Africa LOL"."

Yes, there's not much to go on from the very brief BBC piece. The commentary is largely happening in our own heads.

We allow ourselves to ponder a piece as a work of art and explore tangents because we choose to believe (based on what little information we have) that the creator is not trying to trick us and that we have valid license to regard it as having greater than superficial depth. Once you have accepted something as art, you can set aside the artist's intent. Looking at art doesn't have to be an exercise in divination. It's just a seed.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


File under: Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should.
posted by yoga at 9:14 AM on January 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


art sucks
posted by Bwentman at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don’t get sound art sometimes.
posted by spitbull at 9:28 AM on January 16, 2019


. If an American left 4 bags of garbage in Yellowstone national park with Yogi Bear's face on them


BRB after finishing my MFA thesis before the shutdown ends.
posted by spitbull at 9:31 AM on January 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


Operation Hell On Earth (Ocean In The Desert), 2019

Yes, that was my first thought upon reading about this.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2019


Human beings leave enough polluting rubbish in our few true wildernesses; Africa is not just a canvas for stupid white people jokes; the song has nothing to do with African; Africa is not a country ARGGHHH. *choking noises*

thatsthejoke.jpg
posted by capricorn at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2019


I don’t know what I would have guessed if you’d told me one of the songs in steady rotation at the roller skating rink I frequented at the age of nine would one day become a cultural lodestar inspiring countless cover versions and art projects, but it probably wouldn’t (no disrespect, I kind of love it) have been “Africa” by Toto.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:45 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Why not Tinariwen, Ali Farka Toure, Fela Kuti, etc, etc.

Because those artists have little more to do with Namibia than Toto does. Why play a song by an artist from a country thousands of miles away, who speaks a different language, with a completely different culture? It’s like suggesting Vietnamese music be played in Mongolia because they’re both Asian.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:00 AM on January 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Sorry not sorry. I blame Seth MacFarlane.

Family Guy did an episode that leaned on "Africa" as a plot point back in 2012, but I believe one of the first seeds was planted a decade prior.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:18 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Clearly, the music played in Mongolia should be by Asia.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:21 AM on January 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


I don’t get sound art sometimes.

I believe the general consensus in the thread is that this art isn't particularly sound at all.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:43 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


IT STINKS! 👌
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:00 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ok, kwaito music then

/Still not a good piece
posted by SystematicAbuse at 11:22 AM on January 16, 2019


Once you have accepted something as art, you can set aside the artist's intent. Looking at art doesn't have to be an exercise in divination. It's just a seed.

I'm not criticizing here – just reacting:

See, this is an approach to art that I've never understood.

I mean, on the one hand, I get it: we needn't be spoon-fed an explicit "meaning", nor be particularly concerned with the author's intent, to get something worthwhile out of an artwork.

But when people argue that "any given artwork is just an excuse to riff on whatever we want to", then they've lost me. You can say "this makes me think X about colonialism" – and that's fine – but it doesn't tell me anything about the artwork. It just tells me that you want to talk about colonialism.

And if this is gonna be that kind of party, then we might as well remove the artwork from the equation. This approach erases the aesthetic content of the work – which, in my mind, is basically the entire point of art – and reduces it to a word association prompt.

It'd be one thing if the "seed" in question was something reasonably complex, or novel, or otherwise thought-provoking. But the "seed" that this work offers is basically just the concept of "Africa" (wrapped up in a nod to a tired internet meme). And there just isn't much meat on those bones, you know?

There is no single correct way to engage with art, of course. Art serves many different purposes to different people in different moments. But if you're going to argue that "the purpose of art is to serve as an excuse to talk about whatever sociopolitical issues it vaguely reminds us of" – like, I do feel like you're missing out on a lot of the value to be found in art.

(Really, though, I'm just salty because the critics panned my installation – which is a giant plate of inauthentic, Americanized frijoles refritos in the Sonoran Desert.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:05 PM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


thatsthejoke.jpg

Ironicbullshitisstillbullshit.jpeg

Ironicpollutionisstillpollution.gif
posted by smoke at 12:10 PM on January 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


P.S. Whenever I encounter this style of art criticism, it's always arguing that the artwork in question is, somehow, about colonialism. Georgia O'Keefe painting? Colonialism. The Walking Dead? Colonialism. Furry drawings on DeviantArt? Colonialism.

Colonialism is fucked up, and it's hard to make an honest survey of modern culture without frequently running into it – but it seems like an awfully narrow and limiting way to interpret art.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:20 PM on January 16, 2019


The "Africa" meme is, indeed, a dead horse at this point.

I was just starting to finally notice that it had suddenly become a whole thing in the first place and now you tell me it's over?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


thatsthejoke.jpg

Ironicbullshitisstillbullshit.jpeg

Ironicpollutionisstillpollution.gif


toughcrowd.wav
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:24 PM on January 16, 2019


I was just starting to finally notice that it had suddenly become a whole thing in the first place and now you tell me it's over?

Seems to have taken off in October 2017. Know Your Meme added it "about a year ago".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2019


If you ask me it took off on September 24, 2010 with Danny Pudi, Donald Glover, and Betty White (as so many things do).
posted by ejs at 2:40 PM on January 16, 2019


Let me rephrase. I'm not advocating treating conceptual art as a cliff, i.e. "generic topic: discuss." But it also need not be a prison. What I meant by seed is perhaps better conveyed as scaffolding. It provides a structure on top of which the viewer(s) can engage with certain ideas. I'd argue a piece is personally valuable insofar as it allows me to engage with ideas I find edifying (or, indeed, is essential to doing so).

If I'm not getting anywhere worthwhile, maybe the artist created a crappy structure or one that's played out. I should probably just set it aside and move on. To do otherwise is ultimately gratuitous self-punishment. I mean, the world is filled with creative works I dislike, which I totally ignore. What's another?

Another possibility is I'm bored of my own ideas. But that's on me. I can engage however I want. The artist did his thing. He's not moderating this thread. I doubt he's reading it. He's not policing my thoughts.

The piece is made. Do yourself a favor.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:40 PM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Fuck this shit right in the speaker.
posted by The otter lady at 5:18 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


The "Africa" meme is, indeed, a dead horse at this point. The internet doesn't know when to let things go.

I completely fail to understand this installation's egregious lack of bacon.
posted by flabdablet at 6:37 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


It also needs more cowbell.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:24 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


ALL YOUR BASSLINES ARE BELONG TOTO US
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:34 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Is this a a pigeon an Art?
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:56 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Christ, what an art soul.
posted by flabdablet at 9:21 PM on January 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Pupsi's version of Africa played on sweet potatoes and squash/pumpkin carved into okarinas (Youtube link) - takes him a bit to carve and tune the vegetables, but then... pretty good.

(And then his cover of Darude Sandstorm on a potato.. well I did lose it a bit then!
posted by AnnaRat at 1:16 AM on January 17, 2019


shapes that haunt the dusk: "I mean, I was reading about a prominent, celebrated artist and MacArthur fellow, who took a commission from Goldman Sachs."

This kind of thing can't be rare, Dali designed packaging for a candy company.

I've often pondered the idea that the whole concept of "selling out" being a bad thing is somehow a capitalist talking point similar to how practically every business owner (in Canada anyways, betting the US is similar) is ready with a list of lies and deceptions about how bad unions are for workers.
posted by Mitheral at 6:12 AM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I had a feeling this was ypipo nonsense well before clicking on the artist's profile page. Keep it, Herr Kuenstler.

Also, a brief reminder of German-Namibian history.
posted by LMGM at 6:12 AM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Seidentopf is a self-described "creative " at an ad agency, so I'm not saying he's not an artist, but he is also professionally something else other than an artist."

Advertising is kind of the antimatter to art's matter. It's probably theoretically possible for a being to make both art and advertisements, but I think being an advertiser necessarily negates the artist elements of a person.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:13 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


LMGM, thanks for the link. I had no clue.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:02 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


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