Fine Art, Freedom, and Inner Flags

London had me thinking of Democracy. Actually, it was the theme of my whole summer… outside of Independence Day, you corn ball. Instances of class assertions and inequity kept popping up whack-a-mole, despite my just trying to have a leisurely vacation. And what I was able to surmise is that art is truly the great class/category shattering pitch. First stop, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Grand.

Pieces in various mediums, and from the likes of Tracy Emin, to first year submissions and Royal Academicians.

Rarely is an art exhibition the ‘scape where class inequities unstagger themselves. Time and again those hoisted by greater means see the bright side of exposure, whereas those with shorthanded but raw talent suffer an art world eclipse.

To a certain degree of shock, the Royal Academy in London has an annual summer exhibition that laterally stretches the typical have/have-not dichotomies of gallery hangings, and provides a platform for up-and-comings to sell, sell well, and do so among big names in their field.

Not my suggested arrangement, but nevertheless impacting.

Every piece was a number and a name, not an identity, gender, age, degree, class, or race. Each work was, however, a price somewhat commensurate with fame. Money: the great co-denominator piggybacking on creative freedom. Like this piece by Keith Tyson that took my breath away. I came back five times to stand in front of it.

The piece: 3000 pounds. The artist: world renowned--a fact I dug up after the exhibit.

Enter the riots. My politics is lacking and so were those of many a Londoner I questioned, but I feel downright silly not mentioning it, especially after going on about the “great democracy of high art.” As a matter of fact, when I began writing this post in London, a women saw me in a cafe and said, “My, you look so grave!” It was because I was writing about a painting and sirens were going off at the same time. It felt schmucky. So here are some facts that I gathered and responses I solicited:

1. The prime minister increased tax cuts for those making over 150,000 quid/year from 44% to 55%, while unemployment dropped from 68 to 55 quid a week.

2. Police had been routinely stopping young black boys on bikes, under assumption of theft.

3. A young man was fatally injured by authorities. His parents waited four hours outside of headquarters to be told this.

4. In “posh” Richmond where I stayed, everyone was certain that the “… bunch of Yobs having a laugh” (look it up) wouldn’t loot. That is, except for one guy named Chris at the pub who, when hearing sirens, anxiously called his friend to ask if they were watching the news for updates. His friend replied, “No, I’m watching ‘Eastenders’.” (Look it up, Yank.)

Literally a rainbow over Richmond. This shot was typical of every walk I took, not just this particular one on the way to the Tesco. Did you know England has incredible clouds and peak-a-boo sun beams all day long?

5. This summer, world revolutions unfurled across the map, web, and  television.

6. A superpower like England can only keep up appearances and niceties for so long before Jack the Ripper and class chasms come waltzing out of closets with pile-of-bones brides.

By the end of two weeks the riots descended into gay pride. That isn’t a commentary on the latent homo-eroticism of looting. I mean I actually stuck around long enough for the only and bestest pride I’ve attended. It was in Brighton Beach, a fairly progressive and scenic beach town about an hour outside of the city. Like Provincetown, but wilder and with a beach you can’t use.

My Grandmother. Bad influence, awesome wingman.

Even though my grandmother and I started drinking at 9 am on the bus to Brighton Pride, I kept my moxie and resolve to capture the fashions of a UK pride in a photo group I like to call, “Uk Pride Fashions: the Ultimate Freedom.” Pure vision was the only qualifier of the day.

I learned that a backdrop can turn neat into killer, and I don't just mean this wooden door. Is it me or is this cuter because it's UK and not US? Maybe it's just cute.

Gender play was only the beginning.

An Icarus on earth is an Icarus preened and preserved... and pink.

When I was there I told Londoners that New York is the world's city, but really, London is closer to the world.

GEMINI

I'm usually down on floral prints, but I think the whole English Rose thing creates certain seasonal allowances.

True story: I was sitting on this green next to a ferris wheel trying to stay put because I’d lost my grandma. I so badly wanted a picture of these kids for like half an hour but refused to get up and ask. Then they just plopped down next to me. Solved. Oh, my grandma was in the reggae dance tent the whole time. No joke.

We need to round up more robots and put them on shirts, put ducks outta business. Blue liquid anyone?

I told him not to dare budge. Afterward I explained why.

He borrowed the brooch from a friend who was there and angry he wasn't asked for a picture. Shoes in Europe rein.

This is one of 7 takes she demanded. Work it.

Then there was this retro lady with her collection of Russian doll like purses within purses. Something like the British Kate Spade but the print is illegible. Any guesses?

?

???!!!

They said not to call them Waldo. I said, Why the hell not?!

The hair is what drew me, a green plume.

The Pride of Sailor Moon.

And her cheekier counterpart.

Moo...purrr...woof! Adorable, and with an accent to boot.

Any return to the Thames is stunning.

The trip was a success, because it held up to me the limits and constructs of category, and personal freedoms in creativity that we take for granted. If status limitations mean something slightly different in every location, then maybe they’re all just contingent on culture, so basically nonexistent–or at least malleable. I’m not in Boston any longer; I said, “Till next time” to England, and now I’m in New York City at the New School in a program called, Riggio: Writer and Democracy. What will I do with it? If my art is a pure representation of self, then not an ounce of it has gone to waste.

About Ricky Tucker

Fashionably set above and below the mason Dixon for cocktail hour. I once owned a black sweat shirt with a singular gash of black puff paint across the front. I called it my nihilist sweater. Like it, my hope is to negate or accentuate the self through attire, basically light up a room.

3 comments

  1. I feel like your grandma and mine would get along nicely.

  2. femme darling

    the retro, flowery purses are cath kidston. admittedly, i know this only because of my obsessive ipad cover search which led me to her beautiful cases, jewelery, and purses. femme dream come true!

    • YAYYYYY! I finally have the answer. I’ve been trying to read those purses for about 4 weeks to no avail. Also, I was too pub drunk at the time to listen to what they were telling me. My brain can rest now.

      Cheryl, we should have an intense grandma mixer.

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