The Jones Chronicles

I caught Black Chronicles II on its last day. I’m glad I did. I was inwardly shamed after two weeks of Fifa 15, Dinner Date reruns and watching the Fast & Furious 6 on Sky +, so I went to see the Allen Jones exhibition the day after. In summation, Black Chronicles II was excellent, transcendent and a host of other superlatives. It was so good it stayed with me throughout the Allen Jones show. Specifically, a Stuart Hall quote stuck with me. It was this:

“Art is never outside of power”

This was something that has been constantly bothering me in the conversation around art for some time. If art is just a medium for communication, then I believe that, like writing, film, TV (an albeit late addition to the pantheon), the structures of society should be taken into consideration, as this informs your viewpoint. We all know there’s no such thing as a default viewpoint, even though the world teaches us otherwise. So, the fact that people assume and abuse a default position should be factored into everything, even the sanctified world of art.

This stayed with me during the Allen Jones exhibition. Reading notes about how Allen Jones set out to ‘shock art’ and ‘dislocate the normal expectations when the viewer wishes to confront a work of art’. The fact that he chose to do this via ‘provocatively’ posed female sculptures is an act of privilege and/or power in itself. To not discuss this in the notes is to ignore a structure of society.

“Art is never outside of power”

Power is a fundamental part of the Allen Jones show. You can’t discuss the show without it. I get that people use art as a grown up’s pacifier – something Allen Jones was fighting against, judging by his quotes – but ignoring power is ignoring society as a whole, which is rather silly if you claim art reflects society.

Once again, with feeling:

“Art is never outside of power”