Iowa Art Crisis: “Bad Art Reviews” Is Not Nice

Central Iowa’s arts community is all aflutter as the rogue Bad Art Reviews website (ed.: since shut down) has violated countless Iowa Nice Statutes by mercilessly excoriating venues and artists alike for presenting half-baked, aesthetically bankrupt, or poorly executed exhibitions. As civic leaders and economic boosters wring their hands over how this most unfortunate turn of events will impact Des Moines’ standing in Forbes’ “Top Ten Cities Where Anybody Can Get A Solo Show” rankings, the State Legislature went into emergency session and appropriated $6.0 million to establish the Iowa Ministry of Artistic Compliance, modeled after the very successful Iowa Ministry of Musical Appropriateness. The Ministry is now requiring public hearings for proposed exhibitions. We go live to their headquarters to pick up on the action:

rsz_1creative_proposal_performance_5-1Jessica Festenbinchen, Art Student: So, this weekend I want to have my thesis show, please. I call it “The Dark Dark Vortex of My Shards of Selfless Fullnesses,” and I am writing haiku poems about war and stuff in blood and then using coat hangers to put them on the wall so it’s like it’s about abortion or something too. There will be some colorful lights shining on it and my friend will make some laptop music, and I will read the haiku while standing on my head naked to show how the world is upside down and how women get abused and objectified all the time. May I have a grant now, Iowa Taxpayers?

Iowa Taxpayers: Giver her two grants! Shut down some elementary schools if you have to! We want our money supporting that exhibition, for sure!

Professor Rufus Dunn Leakey, D.Phil., Voice of Wisdom: Not everyone can afford to be a patron of the arts, but most people will pay for entertainment.

Art House Action Team (swinging in through an open space on a wall, which some might choose to label as a “window”): Biff!!! Pow!!! Deconstruct!!!

Voice From the Crowd: Wow, Professor Leakey, that’s profound. What’s it mean?

Rufus Dunn Leakey:  It’s wisdom, you fool! I can’t say what it means! Damn!

Lester Klorax, Commercial Gallery Owner: Professor Leakey is correct, and artists would do well to be entertaining, if they wish to be successful. Entertaining art does not require an artist’s statement or Master’s thesis to understand what you are looking at, and why. People who can’t make it on their own with a quality, entertaining, artistic product are the ones who need patrons and grants. And there is simply no way that pretentious art school “art” can be entertaining to anyone but pretentious art school “artists,” which is why it is surplus to our society and requires such subsidy. Give the people what they want, I say. And that is certainly not gymnastic blood poetry.

Jessica Festenbinchen: I am filled with sudden shame and self-loathing, Lester, and I will scrap my misguided project, and instead I will make a movie about space ships, hamburgers, large-breasted alien women, and muscle car chases, to be shown at the Jordan Creek GooglePlex. May I have a green light for that, Iowa Film Industry?

Iowa Film Industry: Green light that project! And a sequel! That’s the cinematic golden goose!

Iowa Taxpayers: We stand corrected, Lester. Let’s buy casinos and football stadiums instead! Something to shut down all those pesky elementary schools and hospitals, anyway!

Lester Klorax: My work here is done. Fortitude!

Jacques Derrida (in a dark place that some might choose to label as “Hell”): Le Biffe!!! Le Pou!!! Le Deconstruct!!!


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