September 21, 2004 1:02 PM   Subscribe

No Air-Kissing Please, We're British [via artsjournal]
posted by kenko (14 comments total)
Really, it's about time -- and this isn't just a British phenomenon. It's well-established in American art circles as well. I just wish there was a way to make this point without resorting to a "tongue in cheek" facade, as the article mentions.

The modern art-is-for-the-upper-crust attitude really rubs me the wrong way. I'm a frequent museum/gallery goer and small-scale art collector, and see the snobbery quite often. I can't imagine how alienating this is for someone unaccustomed to art scene pretention.

A quick story ... a few years ago I made a visit to a print and drawing show, which obviously catered to an upper class clientele. Some items were affordable (under $500), and others ranged into the several hundred thousand dollar range. I'm in my mid thirties but look considerably younger, and am a casual "blue jeans" kind of dresser. I was with 3 friends of a similar ilk. Other patrons (not to mention the dealers) would barely look at us -- we clearly didn't "belong" in that situation. It was only after we bought a few pieces (3 of us found a reasonable deal on a piece for our small collections) that we were treated like we belonged -- by the dealers anyways. I found it humorous that the curator of the show, who blatently ignored us as she greeted other entrants when we arrived, suddenly made her way over to chat after we dropped a couple of bucks.

Great post (it pushed one of my hot buttons at least)!
posted by ScottUltra at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2004

i heartily raise my can of pbr and cheer - it's about time .
posted by mishaco at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2004

Will anything short of full-palm ass-grabbing be considered acceptable? :-)
posted by clevershark at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2004

i heartily raise my can of pbr and cheer

You mix beer and laundry detergent? That's just unhealthy.
posted by jonmc at 1:41 PM on September 21, 2004

I'm not worried about the art (no one has ever tried to kiss my cheek in a gallery) - but can we stop the air/cheek-kissing altogether? My fiance's relatives try to be hoity-toity by kissing cheeks, and I hate it! They aren't mediterranean, so it's not all friendly - just horribly invasive. I hate being touched that closely by people I don't know well.
posted by jb at 2:39 PM on September 21, 2004

air-kissing is absolutely the best way to check for facelift scars. ; >
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on September 21, 2004

Now look here - I'm British and I feel obliged to tell you that not only do we not want any of this Euro cheek/air kissing skullduggery, but we could do without any of your fancy American squelchy lip on lip action too.
We have standards over here you know. I'm sure the Queen doesn't indulge in this sort of activity, and neither should you.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 4:14 PM on September 21, 2004

apocalypse miaow has nailed it. If we've met before a slight nod or a casual gesture with the hand will do. If we're being introduced and you're male then a shake of the hand, if you're female... then a shake of the hand. Anything else is perverted and against nature.
posted by squealy at 4:34 PM on September 21, 2004

attempting to have a micro-influence on the greeting habits of shallow pretentious snobs still leaves you with a bunch of shallow pretentious snobs greeting each other.

'The idea behind the unusual launch party is to "demystify the cult of the new British arts graduates - bringing the work of the next generation of artists to the public", and to keep it away from the "unscrupulous self-publicising super collectors"..'

then why put it in the westend? surely sticking that gallery in a community centre of some overpopulated pre-fab concrete council estate, amongst folk who aren't just going to jump on a train to go gallery hopping because they're, somewhat patronisingly, assured they wont see an airkiss, would be closer to achieving the objective.

ahh, i know why; the pricetags. the gallery owners still want the set they claim to be hoping to avoid swanning around the place, cept this time drawn in by the hype of a novel publicity stunt which allows them to feel wacky, ironic or somewhat 'rootsy' for a day, mixing with imaginary barbaric roughians in a waft of silent smugness.

a perfect excuse to dig out those slightly pre-grass stained £150 jeans & tales of the great-great-great grandfather who once worked in a mill, while pulps 'common people' loops around in their heads.
posted by Kino at 6:00 PM on September 21, 2004

apocalypse miaow - as it turns out, the relatives in question were British, and quite upper class - though they may not have met the Queen, they probably know someone who knows her. The British upper class seemed to have embraced cheek kissing with an unfortunate passion - and it freaked out this dour Canadian (perhaps surprising, considering the common stereotypes, the British are less reserved than Canadians, though more than Americans).

Best way to really demystify art? Art classes - nothing like playing with paint or mixing up clay to break down the barriers, and maybe instill a life long appreciation. (Two high school classes did it for me - my ability is nothing special, but museums and art galleries are always on my list when visiting a city).

I've never really noticed a posh crowd at art shows, but then I've only been to one or two, and those were in bad areas in Toronto, and were crawling with the aforementioned high school art students. Beginning artists can get very large spaces cheap in bad areas, so you see some interesting stuff in factory districts.
posted by jb at 8:13 PM on September 21, 2004

exactly. if those running this westend art gallery really had intentions of 'bringing the art to the people' they'd know it doesn't have to be 'brought' - it is self created - so long as platforms [such as this gallery] exist within 'the people's communities for them to immerse & engaged in the creation and celebration of each others art.

the idea of spewing out hype and gimmicks about airkiss bans and telling people off for looking over shoulders, while claiming to be bringing the art to the people, from a trendy posh location in londons westend, is a joke.
posted by Kino at 8:54 PM on September 21, 2004

I'm guessing the gallery would say that they've achieved their aim of getting people to talk about their exhibition, and getting way more publicity for it, than if they had plonked the usual advertisement in 'Country Life'...
Maybe we're the suckers (rather than the kissers).
posted by apocalypse miaow at 12:54 AM on September 22, 2004

I'm British and all my friends kiss each other as a greeting, most often on the lips. But then I live in London in the centre of Gay Clapham.
posted by Summer at 6:37 AM on September 22, 2004

Believe me Summer - in Berkshire such action would be deemed to be a trifle forward...
posted by apocalypse miaow at 7:31 AM on September 22, 2004

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