I explained to my grand daughter that I had been awake since the end of the Second World War and it was in fact very probably time I was asleep. Not dissuaded she spent half an hour explaining that I might be awake but I was not yet 'woke'. This was not entirely a waste of time as I realised that had I been 'woke' I would not have so readily dismissed the 2021 Turner Prize winning entry as a piece of third rate flim flam.
The piece is intended to reproduce, replicate, conjure the interior of a 'Sibin', a Northern Irish bar. It was produced by a Northern Irish activist group, the Array Collective. The Collective are clearly very woke. The jury admired the lightness of touch, play, conviviality and sense of carnival along with the hidden messages about sexuality and identity. The problem with having been around for so long is that one has been immersed in art for over half a century and 'woke' or not one can spot the fatuous a block away. Beyond a superficial relevance to societies ills one expects artistic rigour. I presume none of the Turner Prize jurors have ever visited the Beanery!
I 'dropped' into the Beanery on a visit to the Stedelijk some twenty years ago. Ed Keinholz created the Beanery in 1965, a scaled replica of Barney's Beanery, a bar Keinholz knew well. It is considered one of the most memorable and important works of the late twentieth century. Visiting the Beanery is a singular and challenging experience, you are instantly immersed in one man's disturbing and provoking vision of American society. It's values and politics are laid bare. Much has been written about this work, it is full of anger, satire and compassion, created over half a century ago, it is now in the world of QAnon and Trump's Republican America, more relevant than ever.
So fifty years hence where will the flimsy, whimsy that is the 'Sibin' be, Stedelijk or skip.
AGED AND AWKWARD