Saturday, January 15, 2011

Otolith Group and the bane of being intellectual

Otolith III at Tate Britain
I wrote an article about The Otolith Group, the British artists who were nominated for the Turner Prize this year and are now showing in India. It was commissioned to me by TOI Crest in October, I actually did it in November and it is out in January - talk about gestation period.

You can listen to the entire interview here, if you have the patience for it. Despite my misgivings about my voice, I am putting it out there because I really enjoyed interviewing them. Besides, raw date is all the rage these days, you know. What with Wikileaks and all.

Interviewing The Otolith Group by chetna prakash

Guardian called their works "unabashedly erudite". Some other papers, were less charitable calling them pretentious. I could sense Eshun's blood pressure rise up a notch, when I asked him the question. And he went on a lengthy explanation about the difference between complex and incomprehensible, and why should their works be about one simple idea, in the first place. Wouldn't that be boring?

When did we turn into a society where one has to defend oneself for being erudite and intellectual.

Look at Barack Obama, throughout his presidential campaign he had to constantly play down his excellent education, his obvious intelligence, his articulateness. And in contrast, Sarah Palin was constantly playing up her gal-next-door credentials, her homilies and claims to common sense. She still does, and it seems is still very popular. While Obama is still struggling to get himself heard and understood.

Another obvious trap is to be entertaining. As Andrew said to me while we were discussing our favourite film critics, you must be funny. Being intelligent is not enough. You must be entertaining. That's the only way you can get your point across. But isn't there a joy to engaging with the difficult, figuring it out and feeling good about it. What's wrong with being sincere, anyway. Isn't that a good thing?

Obviously not. Otherwise, The Otolith Group would have won the Turner Prize.

A funny, funny world we live in.


lokulin said...

You've uploaded the wrong sound recording I think.

globalbabble said...

let me check!