5,494 Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages For Nicolas Bourriaud

As a taster for their 2009 triennial  ‘curated’ by Nicolas Bourriaud (AKA Boring Ass), Tate Britain hosted a series of talks concluding with one this weekend by the International Necronautical Society (INS). For their 17 January shindig, the INS hired actors to play General Secretary Tom “Thunderbird” McCarthy and Chief Philosopher Simon “Hip Hugger” Critchley. The event sold out well in advance because a sensation hungry public were under the entirely false impression that they would be personally addressed by this notorious pair of lobster loving nude chefs. Despite Radio 4 (Today programme, 29 December 2008) making the outrageous claim that McCarthy is widely recognised as a best-selling novelist, the majority of those present appeared blissfully unaware of the fact that the thespians pretending to be the notorious INS nude chefs were Sexton Blakes!

Before the Gilbert & George clones posing as Thunderbird and the Hip Hugger launched into the main act, the INS pulled their masterstroke by having a luvvie impersonating Nicolas Bourriaud introduce them. The actor playing Boring Ass boasted over-lovingly tousled hair and covering his back (but not his arse) was a truly shitty piece of ‘designer’ knitwear in grey marl with buttons running down the sleeve. The fake Bourriaud proceeded to camp it up outrageously in his impersonation of an inept and self-important curator, and used a thick but phony French accent to render his ‘Franglais’ incomprehensible. This had those of us who have seen the ‘English’ ‘translation’ of Bourriaud’s book Relational Aesthetics, rolling in the aisles. Indeed, my body was so racked by laughter that I failed to write down a single word of the parody Bourriaud speech. Fortuitously a brief sample from Relational Aesthetics (page 29), the text the INS piss-take was modelled upon, will convey its flavour: “Pictures and sculptures are characterised by their symbolic availability. Beyond obvious material impossibilities (museum closing times, geographical remoteness), an artwork can be see (sic) at any time. It is there before our eyes, offered to the curiosity of a theoretically universal public. Now, contemporary art is often marked by non-availability, by being viewable only at a specific time…”

Having lampooned Bourriaud so mercilessly, whatever the INS did next was bound to disappoint and it will surprise few readers of this blog that the impersonators playing Thunderbird and the Hip Hugger were deliberately saddled with a lecture that was more suited to the printed page than public performance. Despite endless ‘highbrow’ (AKA first year undergraduate) references to the likes of Plato, Joyce and Wile E. Coyote, the content of the talk can be summarised with a pair of old neoist slogans: “death is not true”, and ‘whenever someone utters the word authenticity you can be certain you’re dealing with a fake”. The content of the lecture was cannibalised from both earlier INS manifestations and the work of 1990s counterculture networks such as the Association of Autonomous Astronauts and the Luther Blissett Project. The harsh lighting and bland delivery created a post-humorous ambiance in which those members of the audience who did not know what was going on became the butt of this INS joke.

The answers for the Q and A session at the end had been pre-scripted, but this form of ‘democratic’ participation is so ritualised that few seemed to notice that the replies were read back rather than spontaneous. The first audience member to speak during the open mike session wittered on about the traditionalist imbecile Rene Guenon and denounced the INS lecture as ‘incoherent” (obviously not aware of the fact that this was its entire point). The next person to gain control of the mike that was being passed around expressed complete agreement with the INS; while a third specified the form in which he wanted his answers, and yet after getting them as scripted rather than as demanded, he still appeared unaware that these had been written in advance.

The Q and A was followed by drinks. The Boring Ass impersonator used this social as an opportunity to parade a trophy blonde who hung onto his arm before the public. While I was enjoying a tipple, a journalist from the TLS mistook me for Thunderbird. I assured her that I was not McCarthy and when she eventually persuaded someone to point him out, she apparently gave him a ticking off for the prank he’d just played. Literary types are still into nineteenth-century notions such as sincerity, and by using the INS as a vehicle to revive the merciless assault on authenticity that characterised the most interesting cultural currents of the 1980s and 1990s, Simon Critchley and Tom McCarthy are successfully distancing themselves from these bourgeois bores.

And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ – you know it makes (no) sense!

About mistertrippy

Stewart Home was born in south London in 1962. His mother Julia Callan-Thompson was a showgirl and club hostess. He has never held down a regular job for more than a few months at a time. On those rare occasions when he's been forced to work, Home has taken employment as a factory labourer, agricultural labourer, shop assistant, office clerk and art class model. Deciding he didn't like working in factories as a teenager, Home pursued cultural and political interests, writing many books and participating in even more gallery exhibitions.
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49 thoughts on “5,494 Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages For Nicolas Bourriaud

  1. Some of the worst exhibitions I’ve seen in my life, and I’ve seen plenty of stinkers, have been at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. It isn’t a proper art gallery, it is a scruffy and inadequately converted mess. And the shows put on at this barn are even worse than the venue, just a mishmash of rubbish, especially when Nicolas Bourriaud is responsible for the curation. Both Bourriaud and Jerôme Sans deserve to be pelted with rotten fruit for setting up the Palais de Tokyo in 2002. And what’s Bourriaud now doing as a curator at Tate Britain? The same old rubbish he was doing in France. I’m sick of his silly old rot, I want to hear about something new!

  2. I really wish the people that look sort of in anger at the ‘weirdos,’ at the happenings, at the psychedelic freak-out, would instead of just looking with anger– just look with nothing; with no feeling; be unbiased about it. They really don’t realize that what these people are talking about is something that they really want themselves. It’s something that everyone wants. You know, it’s personal freedom to be able to talk and be able to say things– And it’s dead straight! It’s a real sort of basic pleasure for everyone. But it looks weird from the outside.
    And so, all-in-all, what this gang of people from the ‘International Times,’ ‘Indica,’ and the whole scene is trying to do is try to see where we are now and see what we’ve got around us; see any mistakes we’ve made and straighten ’em out.You know, it’s just a straight forward ‘endeavor’ kind of scene. You know, just to do something other than what’s been done before. Because what’s been done before isn’t necessarily the answer. There could be another answer, you know.

  3. Frank O'Hara says:

    Oh if you left me and Nicolas alone in his pad for 48 hours with 5,494 Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages, then Bourriaud would emerge a changed man. He’d become a real intellectual and curate worthwhile shows!

  4. Peter Webb says:

    We don’t need the pub, you can have plenty of fun alone at home as long as you’ve got a frozen packet of Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages!

  5. Díre McCain says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Similar events should be staged out here in the capital of vapid, superficial, pretentious bores…

  6. Bourriaud is promoting kitsch.

  7. We need a new Committee of Public Safety to protect the reputation of French critics and curators from the likes of Bourriaud!

  8. In his contribution to Philosophy in France Today (edited by Alan Montefiore, 1983) Jacques Derrida convincingly defines the contemporary disposition of the university, and possibly the museum too. ‘The reproductive force of authority can get along more comfortably with declarations … whose content presents itself as revolutionary’, he writes, ‘provided that they respect the rites of legitimation, the rhetoric and the institutional symbolism which defuses and neutralizes whatever comes from outside the system. What is unacceptable is what … upsets the deeply entrenched contract, the order of these norms, and which does so in the very form of works, of teaching or of writing.’ If Derrida is correct, Bourriaud’s suggestion that artists enter institutions in order to fill them with a politically progressive content fails to recognise that it is only when institutional forms are critically contravened that any effective transformation can occur.

  9. Yesterday I got the train to London to go and see Tom McCarthy and Simon Critchley from the International Necronautical Society give a talk at the Tate Britain as part of the run-up to the fourth Tate Triennial, which kicks off in February. I reckoned that any society which has posts called Chief Philosopher and Head of Propaganda deserved a look-see. We had a hell of a time getting there as the underground was totally against us and we don’t know the London buses at all, so we ended up running around like fools for forty-five minutes, circling out-of-action tube stations and failing to find any relevant bus and refusing to pay for a cab, but we got there in the end, and the talk, which was the INS’s Joint Statement on Inauthenticity, was worth the hassle. They weren’t really saying anything more than elucidating certain principles of post-modernism and attesting that they were still relevant today, but their presentation was slick and the Q&A was really entertaining and there was free wine afterwards, which, really, is what life’s all about. I did get cornered by a nutcase who claimed to be an artist working in the areas of ‘art, philosophy and science’ and twisted round in her chair to talk at me for ages about obesity epidemics before the talk started, until I was ready to clout her over the head with my bag and do a little triumphant dance. Evasive action had to be deployed afterwards in case she caught up with us by the wine, and we had to hide behind a big pillar for a while. Stressful. On the train back I read Last Exit to Brooklyn and then came home and listened to Jenn Ashworth’s interivew on the radio and had my dinner and mourned the fact that we’ve no tea in the house, and that’s about where I am right at the moment. I want to read Jenn’s book and I want a cup of tea NOW.

  10. Hey Mister Trippy! Well, I bow to your superior knowledge, if in fact it wasn’t McCarthy and Critchley themselves – I wouldn’t have recognised them anyway so the joke is on me. I found the Q&A very funny – I recognised about half the pre-scriped quotes, and I agree with you that plenty of the audience members didn’t seem to get the joke. The second person to ask a question was the same boring nutter that sat in front of me and kept talking, and I think she, for one, didn’t get the joke… But I did think, whatever happened, it was a pretty neat take on inauthenticity and I’d love to see them do it again!

  11. The INS take the ghost of performance art and use it to haunt the mass media, and the art world, with their own bad faith…

  12. Bourriaud’s fantasies about the altermodern are a completely free floating form of cultural idealism; he has failed to even attempt addressing the issue of regional criticalism.

  13. Bourriaud may cast himself in the image of the people but if you ask me he belongs to the absolute bourgeoisie!

  14. Authenticity says:

    As members of communities, are we constantly and instinctively working to gauge authenticity of other members? Do we “kick out” the inauthentic? And, if so, does this help build the integrity of the community?
    Here’s a very low level example: I recently made an almost instantaneous decision that Paul McCartney would never be in my community as soon as I saw his album cover at a Starbucks coffee chain in New York City. There was something about the album cover that was so inauthentic, it raised my complete indifference to Paul McCartney to a higher level of active disinterest…

  15. Anything object based in the INS oevre? I want them on my books. Those chaps could sell snow to eskimos!

  16. mistertrippy says:

    Sorry Jay the INS only deal in black boxes and dirty tricks… real cloak and dagger stuff…. but they could probably get you 30 keys or even an awful lot more at wholesale discount….

  17. Liam Gillick says:

    You are all just jealous, after me Nicolas is the most penetrating thinker the world has ever seen. He makes Socrates look like a rank amateur in comparison, and as for Kant, well you can just forget all about him!

  18. Personally I don’t understand what Liam is saying but I agree with him because I know he is right, and Nicolas is right too. I’d like to see any of you make it to the short-list of an all female Turner Prize nomination. Call yourselves men!

  19. mistertrippy says:

    Ms Bollocks, I’ve always wondered if you dig The Exits as a punk rock obscurity? In case you don’t know them, they had a song chorus that went: “Glandular Angela, I’ve Got A Fever For Your Beaver”.

  20. I dunno, sometimes I get the impression that not all your commenters are authentic.

  21. We thought we’d do this Picasso number, and we started off doing it straight. Then we thought, Picasso was kind of far out in his pictures, he’d done all these different kinds of things, fragmented. Cubism and the whole bit. I thought it would be nice to get a track a bit like that, put it through different moods, cut it up, edit it, mess around with it — like he used to do with his pictures. You see the old films of him painting; he paints it once and if he doesn’t like it he paints it again, right on top of it, and by about twenty-five times he’s got his picture. So we tried to use this kind of idea. I don’t know much about it, to tell you the truth, but what we did know we tried to get in the song, sort of a Cubist thing.

  22. People like Bourriaud who speak about relational aesthetics and altermodernism as a means of skirting around the matter revolution and class struggle, who don’t understand what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.

  23. Liam Pillock says:

    Berlin suicide mistaken for art

    Dateline: Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 20:49 GMT

    Berlin passers-by were slow to respond to a woman who had committed suicide, thinking that she was taking part in a piece of performance art.

    The 24-year-old woman died jumping from a window at the Tacheles art gallery in the fashionable Mitte district.

    “It wasn’t immediately clear that the situation was for real,” said police spokeswoman Christine Rother.

    “They thought someone was playing around,” she said.

    The woman had come to the gallery the night before her death, and was filmed by artists there saying she planned to commit suicide.

    The videotape is now in the hands of the police.

    The group of artists tried to persuade the woman not to kill herself, and one of them drove her home.

    However, she returned to the arts centre and carried out her threat.

    Police are reported to have found a suicide note and are not treating her death as suspicious.

  24. That the passage between art and politics which the INS performance conjures up should feel provisional and rickety is fitting. It has become a cliche in the contemporary art world to claim that the two cannot mix well, or that their alliance breeds tyranny, or that art can be political only in the continual recitation of contradiction. How has it come about that the bridge, so robust as recently as the 1970s, is now so frail?

    The most salient reason is the decline in the belief in a universal alternative to liberal democracy and capitalism. The progressive, activist art of John Heartfield and Tina Modotti in the 1920s and 1930s, or Hans Haacke from the 1970s onwards, was founded upon a utopian attachment to the future, as well as a revulsion towards the present. While struggles based on identity issues have provided contemporary art with most of its politics since the 1980s, the rapidity with which they were adopted by the mainstream ultimately proved discouraging, and their residue consists of a few entertaining ghosts of radical engagement. Without the hope for large-scale transformation, critical art often declines into cynicism, violent lashing out, grim humour or nostalgic whimsy.

    Yet hope in the future is not confined to the past, as the rise of anti-capitalist protest movements has shown. (These movements are unthinkable in conventional postmodern theory, and it is most inconvenient that they exist.) They have well-developed forms of cultural expression, which are not much seen in art galleries. That exclusion, and the general tendency to skip over political art, is due to the involvement of big business in fine art. From the beginning of the 1980s, with greatest effect in the US and Britain, corporations moved into the art world, sponsoring exhibitions and prizes and establishing art collections, while prominent business people became trustees of major public art institutions. At the same time, state support for the arts rapidly declined.

  25. mistertrippy says:

    Are you nuts or something?

  26. Pingback: Surplus Matter : An Index to the work of Tom McCarthy

  27. Didnt Hans Haacke say that ‘The Work need not be built’?????

  28. everything is true, nothing is permitted!

  29. V funny. Yes, Stewart, we were completing your work of the last 20 years. In fact, it was you the actors were ultimately playing. Love the idea that Nicolas was fake too. Why not the audience in fact? I didn’t think that Claire Bishop and Sam Taylor Wood looked very realistic – esp STW with a trophy stud on her arm… He looked like he’d been pumping his abs by lifting copies of the Phenomenology… See you soon I hope, Paul xxx

  30. mistertrippy says:

    Oh but you weren’t completing the work – that was already achieved by the Luther Blissett Project – you were going beyond it to real inauthenticity, in comparison to which I’ve only achieved fake inauthenticity. Now you’ve got me worried, I know I’m inauthentic but how can I become inauthentic enough to satisfiy a virtual woman like Claire Bishop???? Stewart xxx

  31. I’ve been ingesting this rarely heard of weight loss pill in my diet and I thought I would show everyone my results. I heard about this product through a co-worker and I ended up ordering a trial and started seeing results instantly. I could not believe I had actually shed 25 pounds in 2.5 months simply by taking this supplement. If you are interested they offer a free trial, check it out by clicking your fingers!

  32. You lot aren’t real fakes like me, you’re just a bunch of Shoredtich flakes! You can go fuck yourselves you pathetic wankers!

  33. mistertrippy says:

    Howdy Mister Inauthenticity, where’d you get such an original name?

  34. Could you spare a Linda McCartney sausage or two for me?

  35. I’m a poet, so I write, and perform. I set my verse to music, and perform with music ensembles. I write about blues, and jazz, and related forms of African/American music, and I travel a lot, performing.

  36. mistertrippy says:

    It’s time to kick in with The Jams coz they’re Justified & Ancient Mu Mu!

  37. Mogs says:

    They should never have made her into sausages, that just makes a mockery of the whole thing!
    So it’s okay to eat meat if it’s a vegetarian, then, is it?
    That’s like those veggies who eat fish….

  38. mistertrippy says:

    Oh but if we carry on like this we’ll make it to page 2…. only been there once on this new Mister Trippy blog so far, and to think back in the old days when I was a top MySpace blogger I’d regularly make 10 pages of comments!

  39. Antisthenes says:

    Dream on brother, dream on……

  40. mistertrippy says:

    More like log on brother, log on… coz if you keep leaving messages and I keep replying….

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  44. bumpy says:

    Kensington Town Hall Vegan fair J’accuse! Your sample tasting of VegiDeli Lincolnshire sausages was succulent but nothing like the ones I subsequently bought in Holland and Barrett. You did, did you not, fraudulently present pork sausages with the implicit message “you won’t be able to tell the difference between these and pork sausages”. Was this another mischievous manifestation of inauthenticity?

  45. mistertrippy says:

    You’ll remember the rather strange set up for the tasting…. no chewing, just a suck to get the taste, and the tasters were led blindfolded into the tasting booth (I claimed at the time this was so that they could concentrate on taste and not presentation)… well, it wasn’t an ordinary sausage you were sucking, that was my pork sword!

  46. bumpy says:

    mistertrippy – thanks for explaining. I was about to add a comment about the suspiciously meaty gravy but I think you’ve cleared that one up as well. Kensington Town Hall – I withdraw everything and thanks for the experience!