Many criticisms have been leveled at art fairs. They’re crass trade fairs that treat art like shiny baubles. They’re social occasions for the private jet set where the art is merely a premise to party. They’re funnels for laundering money and dodging taxes. They’re glossy cultural events that help evil companies improve their brand image. These and several other critiques are articulated in British video blogger chunkymark‘s phenomenal 2011 tirade likening London’s Frieze Art Fair to a dead doughnut.
“To me, Frieze is like a doughnut,” chunkymark says from the driver’s seat of his cab — he also goes by “The Artist Taxi Driver.” “I’m ashamed to say that I did go there before, but there’s nothing good in it. There’s sugar, that terrible dough that makes you obese, it’s sickly, it’s got filling in it like jam and cream and chocolate. It’s disgusting, it’s absolutely disgusting. I’m outside a cemetery.” He then grabs his camera and points it out his car window, revealing that he is indeed outside a cemetery, though he doesn’t seem to have any doughnuts.
“To me Frieze is like a dead fucking doughnut,” he continues. “As artists, the whole of Frieze has got the most insidious, despicable people in the entire planet in one place at the same time — arms dealers, fucking rampant ravaged fucking hedge funders, the most despicable insidious companies like BP, GlaxoSmithKline. You can’t make it up … With what’s going on in the world with like the fucking starving horn of Africa, the Bahrainis, the fucking Libyans, the Syrians, the fucking Palestinians. Most of the perpetrators of these atrocities, of the despicable things that are happening around the world, will be at Frieze. What does that say about art? What does that say about culture?”
He then does a Monty Python–esque impression of a wealthy person buying art at a fair and proceeds to zone out for a few seconds, before resuming: “Artists should be out fucking exposing these people, not in fucking bed with them getting fucking shafted.” I wonder what chunkymark would make of Debtfair.
Incidentally, happy National Doughnut Day!