sat 17/08/2019

2011: Reality 1, Art 0 | reviews, news & interviews

2011: Reality 1, Art 0

2011: Reality 1, Art 0

The year when current affairs and the real world trounced anything that could be imagined

The funeral of Kim Jong-Il: Marina Abramovic, eat your heart out.

We laughed. We cried. We cursed. We gulped. Not at fiction. But at fact. At the real world. The year's best theatre? Murdoch vs Watson. Thriller? The hunt for Osama. Horror? The Japan tsunami. Finest comedy? The Beeb's year long genuflection. Best opera/installation? The funeral of Kim Jong-Il. This was the year that reality trounced art.

News channels thrived as their bulletins played out these teeth-janglers. Some were short explosive little numbers; others seemed determined to become five acters. Narratives were complex, characters unforgettable, visuals motley. The world mostly huddled around the lovely grainy images of the camera phone.

Unvarnished fact has been giving tarted up fiction a run for its money for over a decade. And the man who re-acquainted the nation with reality, Sir Peter Bazalgette, has fittingly now been honoured. 

What's left for the traditional art forms? Just enough. Godard continues to snout around in unexplored territory. His latest, Film Socialisme, is full of experimental vigour. Mark Cousins said it looked like the sort of thing a 14-year-old might have thrown together in his bedroom. 81 going on 14. What a compliment. 

The ENO did their best. Some of their best was more than a decade old (Parsifal). A little of it was new (The Return of Ulysses). The Royal Opera had a lazy year. La Traviata and Anna Nicole saw them playing to the crowds. Holocaust porn made a popular return on the opera stage. The Passenger and The Emperor of Atlantis were so poor they had me cheering on the Fascists. Terry Gilliam's chorus of Holocausted bodies had me rushing for the door. 

The best concerts were those that broke the mould: the Budapest Festival Orchestra's playing posh bingo with the late night Prommers in the Audience Choice concert, the Peckham Rite of Spring and Charlemagne Palestine howling in the belly of Anish Kapoor's Leviathan in the Grand Palais.

2011 Highlight: Music: Ivan Fischer's Mahler One. Opera: Parsifal. Film: Film Socialisme. Art: the great North Korean sob. 

2011 Letdown: So many.

2012 Hope: That artists would stop being so reactionary and protectionist and realise that the removal of state handouts is a chance to ferret out our artistic Woolworths and reshape the cultural landscape.

The best concerts were those that broke the mould

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