Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shock Value

I begin by conceding that my taste in most things to do with the Arts is highly influenced by the likes and dislikes of my parents and therefore access and experience I had growing up in London in the '70's and '80's. I like Charles M. Schulz, Magritte, Russian ballet music (but not so much the dancing), Preston Sturges, Oscar Wilde, the Beatles, German Expressionism, Dame Judi Dench, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield, The Threepenny Opera, klezmer, Holbein, Queens Park Rangers FC, the Specials, the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and maltesers. I appreciate wit, imagination and a touch of the macabre. I am grossed out by most comedy that pushes the envelope in the area of bodily functions (think Little Britain). Pretty average tastes really. And then I come across something like this:

"Hard day at the orifice, dear?
The focus of a new production of Le Grand Macabre is a vomiting fibreglass model. No wonder they're screaming in the aisles, says Oliver Marre
The Observer, Sunday 13 September 2009

The instruments in the orchestra pit next week at the Coliseum in London, home to the English National Opera, will include brown paper bags, planks of wood, car horns and an enormous metal saucepan. The performers will be dressed in costumes ranging from body suits in primary colours to nothing very much at all. The action will involve pretty graphic sex and very graphic violence. And the music will be by Gy├Ârgy Ligeti, most famous for the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's weird movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. But it is the set which is really causing a stir.

An enormous, naked, crouching woman (she's called Claudia), made of fibreglass, with enormous hanging bosoms, forms its centrepiece. Claudia will rotate, she will have parts of her peeled away as the opera progresses, revealing anatomically correct insides, and inside her bottom is a fully stocked bar, to be used for an onstage party. When this production, by the Catalan opera company La Fura dels Baus, of Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre was performed in Rome, the audience screamed abuse from the stalls. The ENO's musical director, Edward Gardner, describes the opera as "a crazy fantasy of a piece" and the production manager, Nicholas Sperling, explains how the performance will begin with film of an actress playing Claudia in a dirty flat. She falls ill; she collapses onto her hands and knees; the screen gives way as the curtain opens and there is fibreglass Claudia, 20ft high, vomiting out the first singer. This is just the first of her orifices from which someone will emerge. Ears, nose and the rest come into play as the evening progresses."

Am I getting old? All I could think of when I read this was 'what is the point?' It annoys me. It just seems like a colossal waste of time and energy. And thence the shock value. O my goodness, I am turning into a fuddy-duddy! The cool and liberal; laid-back, open and always interested image I imagined for myself is a tissue of lies! Help!!


  1. Anonymous6:01 pm

    o god,
    sorry ravaj i have eye tense now,
    also head ache.

    can i come back and carefully
    exam it later?

    don't mad at me.
    i really love to read.

  2. Anonymous9:58 pm

    ravaj, i come back.
    i think i got flu from my
    bro's bottle, so little fever
    and feel very bad today.

    now i get some sleep, and came back. much better now. (-"-)

  3. Anonymous10:15 pm

    so the point is the claudia?
    how i understand, i think people want more attractive stuff so maybe they choose the subject and show to public the way they want.

    you don't like it or what?

    i think well, i don't know but
    i don't think anymore serious way about art. i mean, did i told you a woman who came here around thiry and doing whole her life fine art and said to me that,(she's now fifty something)

    when she was young, someone said to her art is like fashion, i thought like trend,

    so she was upsat cus she thought there could be more than that,
    but she said, now she thinks it is.

    how do think? do you agree or not?
    was the article bothers you cus
    it looks like promotion of the show? or you don't feel they're saying truth?

    i don't know but what i feel, you know sometimes, humen are very simple so art is. not that truth,
    the meaning of life, own mission thing,

    i know it's important.

    ah, and i took medicine, (-..-)
    i was sick.

  4. Now that sex has become ho-hum, we have to rely on other bodily functions to shock an audience. Ick. I liked the sex better.