I stopped writing about the Olympics for a few days because I was starting to find the Olympics themselves so tedious. I watch the premiere events every day, but the excitement about who wins what and which country has the most medals does not interest me at all.
Then to-day I found this article, freshly posted on Arts and Letters Daily, from the Smithsonian magazine… When the Olympics Gave Out Medals for Art.
The concept is mind-boggling.
Yes, it would be wonderful if “the Arts” had as much prominence in modern society… as much public interest and financial support as competitive sports. But competition, pitting artist against artist, nation against nation? Please!!!
Some aspects of contemporary art are corrupted and debased enough without being subjected to the crass commercialization and cut-throat competition of the Olympics. And just think of the number of categories… the rubrics for judging… the problem of pitting this judge’s taste against that judge’s preference.
Even with their utter lack of importance, the arts have been controversial in this Olympiad. Think of the controversy over the Olympic symbol (my blog on August 3 2012, Silly or Sinister), the ugly symbols on the torches, the really weird copper “blossoms” carried by the girls in long white dresses and screwed on to the tubes of that very strange torch. Don’t get me started about the mascots. Would you buy a stuffed toy that looks like this for your grand kids? There is an article from TIMEMagazine with pictures of mascots through the years at this link. And another, again from TIME, with a photo gallery of “the best, the worst, and the just plain weird” team uniforms.
I am sure that life for artists cannot be easy in the dog-eat-dog competitive market of the current global economic decline. But let’s not make the Arts, ever again, part of the Olympics.
On the other hand… maybe a paint-ball contest, or a poetry sweat-shop…?