Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Beauty and the Busker

Not a post about books or words, but a link to a remarkable story on the Washington Post website about human priorities and how we won't accept something as art unless it has a frame around it saying "admire me" and a whopping price-tag..

(Thanks to Fuad for posting the link on the mywordup e-group.)

13 comments:

Kenny Mah said...

Yes, interesting question --- is it art if it isn't admired? What about those art shows with dismemebered cow parts trapped in glass panes -- is it art if it's reviled?

Me, I just like being entertained...

Anonymous said...

There is a great response to the Joshua Bell article by a NYC subway musician in her blog: www.SawLady.com/blog
She interprets the situation differently from the Washington Post reporters... I thought you might find it interesting.

Madcap Machinist said...

Let's put this in a line: admired or reviled, if a collection of bits of bobs is consciously arranged in a manner that provokes a reaction, it is art.

but of course that's just a simplistic way of putting it.

"dismembered cow parts trapped in glass panes" --you must mean Damien Hirst's specimens in formaldehyde (in glass cases). They were gorgeous pieces, though animal rights activists may disagree on principle.

I remember environmental artists Christo & Jeanne-Claude who were making essentially the same point as the Post article--at least that's what I am taking from their work. When they wrap ordinary objects--like the trees I linked to--they are bringing attention to the things we take often for granted.

It was shocking to see how so few people appreciated the violinist at the station. For 43 minutes 1000+ people were touched by grace and they didn't even miss a step.

That said--and someone put the link to sawlady as I was writing this so I needn't have to point out the difference of a stage and street performance--they picked a horrible time and place to put on a show. A screaming boss beats a divine violinist any day.

qaminante said...

It reminds me 1) of the time Paul McCartney went busking in London and earned only a few shillings and 2) of the Joni Mitchell song, "Playing real good for free" ("Nobody stopped to hear him/ though he played so sweet and high/ They knew he had never been on their TV / so they passed his good music by / I meant to go over and ask for a song / maybe put on a harmony / I heard his refrain as that signal changed / he was playing real good for free.")

bibliobibuli said...

kenny - i don't think art has to be necessarily about beauty and sometimes it has the power to disturb. i have a piece (modern classical music if you want to categorise it) by the kronos quartet called "dark angels", it's about the vietnam war and i find it quite frightening (one day i will use it one of my writing classes) ... ic ould respect ballard's "crash" even though that certainly wasn't about beauty ... is picasso's "guernica" - his painting depicting the spanish civil war beautiful?

it's art if it has been "created" by someone and it communicates

so i agree with machinist's definition

anonymous - thank you so much for that very interesting link. what the writer says makes perfectly good sense.

since i read the original article i've been asking myself "would i have stopped?" i'm not sure i would have wanted to have listened to t wonderful music in such a public place though. (i'd rather listen to music at home than in the concert hall even)

i'd like to think i would but sometimes we're all so bound up in our own little worlds. i often do stop to appreciate buskers i think are particularly good. in london on the underground a lot of students of classical music busk with minus one recordings and are a pleasure to listen to. if i like a musician i will always contribute a bit of money. (even at klcc lrt station!)

my ex-boyfriend partly financed himself when he was a music student by busking with his saxophone and he made quite a bit!

qaminante - didn't know about paul mccartney - that must have been humbling for him!! love joni mitchell!!!!

Chet said...

When I hear / see the word "busking", I think of Don Partridge. You must've heard of him, Sharon?

bibliobibuli said...

oh yes, he with all the instruments

Kenny Mah said...

That's right: it's Damien Hirst! And my original comment was sorta rhetorical anyway --- I don't really care if it's praised to high heavens or reviled as trash so long as I enjoy it, or as you put it, Sharon, it provokes some sort of reaction from me.

The first thing that comes to mind is the film Requiem for a Dream by Darren Aronofsky --- beautiful and disturbing so much it hurts almost to watch. Is it art? To me, yeah? Did I enjoy it? Not in the traditional sense, no, cos it was excruciating in bits, but I couldn't peel my eyes away and that's as good a review as any... ;)

Greenbottle said...

i have this one hell of a video clip taken with my crappy digital camera of this guy playing electric violin in the subway somewhere in NY sometimes last feb 07 and i've been replying it hundreds of time...it beats the hell of al de meola ...the thing is i'm too IT stupid to put it on my blog...don't know how...

Greenbottle said...

ah...got it...upload it on youtube now. ...try it here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtOt-bDDlhg

bibliobibuli said...

greenbottle - he's incredible!! and he gets an enthusiastic crowd too - what does this show vis-a-vis joshua bell? you have to know how to busk as the saw-lady says? you have to choose your time of day carefully?

Greenbottle said...

this gentleman, by the name of Lorenzo Laroc is apparently also a professional. After this smashing performance I went up to his violin case and plonked a dollar and took a flyer Titled Lorenzo laroc An evening with international recording artist.

he has a show at 'the bitter end 149 bleeker st on 24 march with $15 cover...not exactly in joshua bell league...you can get samples of his music at MySpace.com/LorenzoLzroc.

Former Regular said...

BE WARNED. I gave Lorenzo a $500 money order deposit last summer to play at my wedding in March 2007 and he never got back to me. He pocketed the money! He is unprofessional. I don't know why he would do that to someone.