In a remarkable volte-face, Drogheda mayor Paul Bell has lavished praise on the concept of modern art. Publicity hermit Bell, who is normally loath to court the limelight, read a prepared statement on the issue at a press conference this morning before giving a brief Q & A to assembled hacks of the Drogheda print and digital media.
“I now know, I mean, I know now how Saint Paul felt on the road to Damascus. Don’t get me wrong now, I’m not comparing myself to the late great St. Paul, it’s too early for comparisons like that, but after speaking at length to members of the town’s aaahts community, well, it seems my earlier comments were ill conceived at best, lazy claptrap at worst.
“Over the course of a lavish dinner last night in the wonderful D’Vine eatery at the back of the old town centre there, I had the pleasure to discuss the merits of modern aaaht with members of Drogheda’s thriving aaahts community. I must confess that I learntid a lot. As your mayor and father figure I have a responsibility to release any wisdom I might come across into the wider community.
“While the new sculpture there may look like a hape of rusted salvage, it is in fact an inspirein piece of aaaht. I kid ye not. Once it was explained to me it clicked, there was a moment of wonder, like the first time a childt seen Mosney. You see, at the root of the problem is that the person saying that modern aaaht is, for want of a better word – shite – is using a set of ideals that values tings while your modern aaaht here does be valuing ideas. We do all be guilty of it, even if we don’t know it.
“I’ll let youse in on a secret. It’s like riding a trike. Once you learn you never forget though I’m still using stabilisers at the moment wha?!! [Pause for laughter]
[Continue] “People say to me ‘Your Grace, my young fla coulda makin’ tha!’ Ah but could he really? I suppose it’s a possibility if he’d a model to copy. [Show slide one] Take my favourite modern artist, Jackson Pollock, the guy who spattered paint everywhere. The fact that your man here was able to create his painting isn’t as remarkable as the fact that he thought of painting it that way in the first place. Really then the question should be this: Could my young fla be the first to anticipate the full realization of Abstract Expressionism in a single style of painting? Probably not, though we do have great teachers in the town thanks to Labour.
“I’ve had lads come up to me all week with pictures of the new sculpture saying ‘That’s not art!’ If I’d a penny for every time I’d heard that I’d be on the pigs back on a gravy train!! [Pause for laughter] [Potential for off the cuff remark] No really.
[Continue] “This accusation has been around since the cavemen – and it’s no coincidence that most of the people who said this to me had Meath accents either. You see, in my opinion it’s all Duchamp’s fault. [Show slide two] This lad turnid the aaaht world in its head by showcasing an inverted urinal as a work of aaaht – Carberry’s bogs must be worth a mint!! [Pause for laughter]
[Continue] “You see he challengt perceptions of what constituted aaaht. Your modern aaaht can be self-referential. I wouldn’t be the first Drogheda Borough Councillor in thinking that techniques like foreshortening and perspective’ve been useid to create the illusion of space and to disguise that the painting is just that, a painting. And I know Cllr. Cassidy has my back on this one. Much of contemporary aaaht is about itself. Chillax guys.
“Most people have a preconceived notion of what aaaht should be, like a painting with a face or a duck and some hills. But it can be fun too. Look at the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s masterpiece is riddled with cocks, so you see, you can have a laugh. Essentially he was just drawing a cock and balls on a wall, having the craic to see if anyone noticed. You couldn’t do that in a church these days, the media would destroy you, not to mention the man upstairs. But would He be right?
“For me, modern aaaht is about rebellion. It’s an attempt to establish itself as something independent of the strictures of the common man’s and indeed woman’s mind and also an attempt to define itself as a commodity, like Carroll’s fags in Dundalk or Staa Baas here in the 1990s.
“I’m often aksed ‘Mayor Bell, why is aaaht so dear? Why did the town pay €65,000 on a bit of metal and there’s children literally dying in their droves in Yellabattor?’ Firstly, I’d like to reiterate that Drogheda Borough Council did not pay one shilling towards the new aaaht work. And secondly, I don’t know why it’s so expensive. Maybe it’s a status symbol for rich people to showcase their money and tease the proletariat. All ahtists want to make money, those who say they do it for the love of it can’t be trusted.
“So I challenge youse all here, to re-evaluate yisr opinions on what is and what is not aaaht. I challenge all the ahtists out there from the lads what do smoke in front of The Hole in the Wall to the street scroats of Ballsgrove and Rathmullen who in their own way are conceptual performance ahtists.
“I too, like Saint Paul and his horse, felt naked and cold before I embraced the warm bosom of modern aaaht thanks to a lovely dinner and high calibre conversation last night with Caoimhe and the aaahty crowd. I can assure youse it is very cuddly and safe. Join me.” [Outstretch arms, accept hugs, go for a fourth term]
Mayor Bell went on to announce a new festival for the town in 2016, The Inaugural Drogheda Modern Art Festival, which will be held on the final weekend of June, a final death knell if ever there was one to hopes of resuscitating the moribund Samba Festival.