Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Andrew Frost vents on RN's Artworks

If you want an illustration of the sneering nihilism that's de rigueur in Australia's arts world, then you can't go past a recent, hilarious gargle by trendy presenter Andrew Frost. It's on their ABC, natch.

Apparently this guy (who sounds just as pompous and smug as he looks on the ABC website photo) is supposed to be some sort of expert - a young, hip version of Robert Hughes. But after you've listened to Frost's piece, try to imagine the highly intelligent and articulate Hughes coming up with anything as infantile, incoherent and smug. The fact that this buffoon has any credibility at all shows there's something deeply and seriously awry in Australia's critical establishment (but hey, we knew that already!).

I suspect you'll find it hard to work out exactly what he's getting at, but then I don't think he really knows either. No matter - expressing silly, half-baked ideas badly is an obligatory task for arty intellectuals these days.

But from what I can tell he seems really upset about democracy and its multiplicity of voices, and thinks there's a better alternative out there somewhere. We just have to dare to imagine it ... or something. He fails to be much more specific than that. But it does sound a lot like he's hoping for a totalitarian state in which he and his ilk call the shots. Why is that not surprising?

Being broadcast on the ABC, Frost's vent ticks several politically correct boxes. Among other things he alludes to the impending catastrophe of climate change, and sneers at populism and commercial art galleries. The piece even has some vaguely indigenous-sounding background music, mercifully serving to break up the verbal sludge. (Actually it's probably the best thing about it. There was certainly some skill involved here. That's pretty much outlawed in Artsville now, so we should be thankful when it is present.)

It's unintentionally hilarious (and strangely, also a tad disturbing) because Frost is cynical to the point of nihilism, then upset about all the cynicism he sees around him. The funniest part is when he exhorts us to demand that politicians treat us as adults. That's the exact point at which he sounds more petulant and childish than ever!

So, have a listen. I suggest you do it in two sessions with at least an hour apart. If you inflict it upon yourself all in one go, it'll probably make your ears bleed.


  1. I guess if you're foolish enough to Google your own name you deserve everything you get, however, Matt, can I just say in my defence that I had nothing to do with the music, lest you think the 'skill' level there was somehow intentional. I don't suppose you're big on irony either. Thanks for listening. Cheers. AF

  2. It's kinda funny and insightful. It's hard to disagree with Frost. Matt, I think you just don't get it (or don't wanna get it).

  3. Can't say I agree with this observation of Frost, he brings a refreshing voice with a sense of fun, irony and realism to Arts media in Australia. We need a more voices like this. Rather than more of the daily feed of over-produced, careful and commercially risk adverse voices we hear today.

  4. whist i have not heard Frost, I am well aware of the idiocy of the art world. Some thoughts
    A book by a british clinical psychologist made the point that much post modern culture is schitzoid- disconnected from life- which seems very pertinent when you look at many art statements, which seem designed to not connect with anyone. Sorry I can't rcall the book, but you might be able to find it out.
    More later

  5. Yes Steve I think that's fairly accurate. Still, I wouldn't say that arty types are all mentally ill (although more than a few definitely are!).

    I think the disconnect is motivated by a kind of snobbery more than anything. They kid themselves that by being so obscure and removed from reality they must therefore have deep insights into life, the universe and everything; insights that lesser mortals (the hoi polloi) simply can't comprehend. But really they almost always have no special knowledge or understanding.

    It's amusing that they think that only they are the truly discerning and perspicacious ones, when really they're as credulous as all get out. It's almost a scam, really. And they are the dupes!