If this is Die Antwoord then what was the Question? Austin Kleon Stealing Like an Artist, and Nordic Noir – three of the best things in 2012
I don’t listen to a great deal of music. It’s a fibro thing, I think. I can find it rather draining and tiring.
HOWEVER. This year has been a year of real pleasure, not just from the music of Die Antwoord but also from the richness of their videos and general cultural stance. Here is an audio visual phenomenon which is every bit as interesting as The Sex Pistols only without the external Svengali stuff Mclaren and Westwood provided – this aesthetic is all their own, and it is pretty challenging. Even fans often admit that they find one aspect or another a bit too much.
There are a whole bunch of Tumblrs devoted to Die Antwoord. And they put a whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooole lot of stuff up on Youtube. Here’s Rich Bitch and Hey Fatty Boom Boom.
It never really occurred to me that there might be a South African version of ‘white trash’ or ‘chavs’ but there is, and they are called ‘zef’. I don’t know if it is a self naming or an owning of a pejorative, but Die Antwoord celebrate the social milieu of the sofa on the front lawn, and they are massively popular for it. Their work is so freely available on the web because they lean on their live shows for money, having embraced sharing on the web and from the glimpses of live shows I have seen it’s well worth handing over the cash.
It’s been a fun year of sharing pictures, gifs and videos with my friend Grady over at Facebook. We were old blogging muckers from the days of Live Journal. I don’t remember if he introduced me to Die Antwoord, he probably did. We’ve been sharing our fandom with each other for months now, and it’s been a fabulous ride.
My friend, well, ONE of my friends…. as David Sedaris might say, has written a book.
Here I am reading it
over on another friend’s blog (that friend being our mutual friend lahikmajoe who also took the photo for the front cover). I know, well connected.
Someone I don’t know but do follow on Tumblr - Austin Kleon - published his book Steal Like an Artist. If i was still teaching art and design, this would be in with a bullet to number one on my reading list. You’d think that there would be tons of books suitable as course material for fledgling artists but you’d be wrong.
While all the picture books are great for reference, there is very little that hits the sweet spot between pontificating about art and practical handbooks where a young artist might get ideas about how to actually BE an artist. Monographs and the like are all very well, but they are usually written by art historians who are very different creatures than artists. For the entire time I taught, really the only book I recommended to all students was Ways of Seeing, which accompanied a 1972 tv series of the same name, fronted by one John Berger. I sometimes showed the whole thing, but the quality was awful, being video copied from video from a time when tv studios were actually filming in video – one of the great crimes in modern culture. I discovered recently that the series is on Youtube.
The visual quality is as good as it can be in the circumstances, but the audio has cleaned up nicely. It is extraordinary that this series and book, dated as they are are still such a go to reference for art schools. The first episode references The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin in 1936. Of course, he was writing at a boom time for the printed image, so his ideas are only more relevant as time goes on.
This year, too, has been the year of the Nordic Noir. We have become a nation of subtitle readers and none the worse for it, I say. Not only have I watched a slew of Swedish and Danish offerings, but I can now say ‘whore’ in French, thanks to Engrenages which is due to have a new season screened early in the year. My school girl French has enjoyed the boost. Engrenages, The Killing, and The Bridge all had strong female protagonists. My favourite has to be Saga Noren from The Bridge.
She is an action heroine par excellence and she has super aspie skills. Her insights are complimented by her partner Martin Rohde’s emotional skills. This is a bit of an inversion of the typical idea of women being intuitive and emotionally intelligent, and men, especially cops, being isolated and obsessed with their profession. I don’t have anything insightful to say, as such, just that I really liked her. This is my blog post about the genre Watching the Detectives from before I started using ALL THE CAPITAL LETTERS.