I like satire. I really do. Last week, I wrote in defence of satirical news programmes, claiming that they form a necessary bridge between the public and the issues of the day in a format that suits the audience.
But something was wrong. Something was niggling at the corner of my memory. Shortly before Presentmas, a few days before I posted that entry, I went to the Behind the Lines: The Year’s Best Political Cartoons exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House). As very few people still read newspapers, it’s a chance for the broader public to see what the very best Australian political cartoonists produce.
As I’ve written before, Australian political cartoonists are dreadful. Since writing that, I came across Simon Doonan’s article in Slate about why the art world is so loathsome. Among other things, Doonan discusses the idea of modern society being in a ‘post-skill’ environment:
“No major figure of profound influence has emerged in painting or sculpture since the waning of Pop Art and the birth of Minimalism in the early 1970s,” writes Camille P. But what about those annoying YBAs, the young British artists, the folks that noted U.K.-based art critic Brian Sewell has wickedly and accurately dubbed “The Post-Skill Movement”? Are they profound or influential? [Source]
It’s a wonderful phrase, if used carefully. Used inexactly, it’s the vehicle for the sneering and pompous attitude of previous generations of artists towards anything done by newer generations. Used precisely and surgically, it helps to describe the ugliness that results from a rejection of tradition. Art cannot exist outside the critical response to the traditions which made it possible.