Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Duck soup

The play Jeff Koons at Bats theatre was about ... er ... Jeff Koons, so how could we not go? As it turned out the play was a smart collage of the art world, funny, chaotic and unpredictable. The script by Rainald Goetz is a technical challenge. If you want to mount a production your starting point is simply the text – no characters, no stage directions. Overheard conversations, written criticism and commentary loosely related to Jeff Koons and the world he has created are shaped into the drama by the director and actors. La Cicciolina was there in all her many positions and so too were vaguely recognisable dealers, art world hangers-on and possibly Koons himself. One of the reasons we were diffident about going was because plays about the art world usually start with frustration at the high dollar value of art and can’t get past it. Try Art by Yasmina Reza if you really want a taste of the genre. Jeff Koons took a few swipes, but they were so brilliantly observed, what you could do but nod. The whole piece played out at demonic speed with semi-hysterics never far away and sometimes in your face.

All tyhis was a strange contrast to the One Day Sculpture event we visited the next day. Under a golden tent at the back of a small Haining Street building, Kah Bee Chow kindly served soup and bread to whoever turned up. It was all very low-key and we were told, proudly, that more non-art than art people had attended.

Locally based Relational Aesthetics or global high concept art? You pays your money (or not as the case may be) and you takes your chances.

Later: Having just written all that, we read two rave reviews of new plays about artists, The Pitman Painters by Lee Hall and Edward Albee's Occupant, a play about Louise Nevelson. Maybe Jeff Koons is part of a turning tide.