Has an essay called The Sartorial Style of the Art Gallery Guard been written for Frieze magazine yet? If not, it should be. Surely there's much mileage in the sartorial signifiers that abound in cloth, colour, style and cut in relation to the guarding of artistic objects.
Is the quasi-militaristic uniform worn by some not a symbol of the bourgeoisie protecting their financial interests via the imposition of authoritarian imagery, which in turn represents the exclusion of the common (oppressed) person from the Art world?
Are galleries holding contemporary Art not akin to bank vaults around the world, framing millions of pounds instead of storing them deep in vaults (where Art also resides, of course)? Hence, the common person (ie, not connected in any way via administration, promotion, purchasing power or, heaven forbid, creativity) is confronted with the menace of forceful ejection or worse whilst inside the gallery. Their position as lowly viewer teased by the site of such wealth and it's guardians therefore causing increased feelings of total alienation from, and intimidation by, the Art world.
The uniform also symbolises the tightly controlled marketplace in which, like society, the few hold so much power, rendering The Market and therefore the Art World itself a fortress of privilege into which only the uniformly-behaved are granted access.
Those who behave in a disorderly fashion may actually be Artists and as long as they are also the product of a good Art school before residing in a fashionable area of London, preferably acting as a gang, getting drunk, dancing and selling their first post-modernist masterpieces in shops that were once purveyors of kebabs or such like, they may be bought and accepted into the inner sanctum, where their multi-million price tags pieces will be guarded by lowly sorts who could never dream of being Artists.
At the Royal Academy of Arts' Radical Geometry show yesterday I tore my eyes away from Waldemar Cordeiro's Visible Idea...
...only to be confronted by a sight that was diametrically opposed to the contents of this excellent exhibition...a display so ragged, crumpled, ill-fitting and ugly that the contrast quite upset me. There stood the guard, staring at his feet, perhaps in shame at the state the Royal Academy had forced him to appear in, his hands barley visible beneath the sleeves and his trousers rumpled on his shoes due to so much excess cloth as to suggest he was wearing several small tires around his ankles, which seemed unlikely. The poor soul! Not only was he being paid per hour what Tracy Emin earns in the blink of an eye, but in doing so was humiliated by a suit that looked worse than those worn at weddings by men who only dust them off for such occasions (along with funerals, of course).
I discussed with LJ the possibility of complaining to the management about the ill treatment of an employee and the effect the resulting visual abomination had on me. There, amongst the beautiful symmetry, the perfectly arranged shapes and tasteful colour palettes of these South American artists, stood an insult to humanity, namely, the employee. Was he being punished for allowing someone to take a photograph, or worse still steal a postcard from the shop last week? Would he object, I wondered, if I photographed him, even though I wished to use the photo as a symbol of how the elite Art world regards the common person? Instead of a photo, you must make do with this geometric (ahem) representation of the poor guard...
Thankfully, this sartorial horror and abuse of a human's rights to look reasonably dressed by employees could not ruin what is a truly superb show.