Charles Moore reviews in the Telegraph the Tate’s Triennial which proclaims Altermodernism:
With Altermodern, the boredom is absolute. The show barely even repels. It is utterly pointless. Possibly Mr Bourriaud might reply that the pointlessness is the point, and start talking about his cultural “negotiations” and how the show “wilfully flattens out any cultural hierarchies”, as one rushes from the room.
But I know, and I suspect he knows, that no one’s heart (or head) is in this. Altermodernism is required by the patron, so it is brought into being. Far from challenging orthodoxy, it repeats it – the orthodoxy being that art’s purpose is to “subvert”. It is not the beginning of anything, but the fag-end of something.
Why pay it any attention? Only because the one bit of traditional art that has not been abandoned by Nicholas Serota (as you can tell, by the fact that he accepted a knighthood) is its respected status. This is Art, is the message: it must be taken seriously: it must be guarded and catalogued and praised and subsidised and shown in the most important gallery of its kind. It must be presented as the authentic face of British art (though, of the 28 artists exhibited, 12 are neither living nor working in Britain). Like bankers’ bonuses, and £6 million a year for Jonathan Ross, this is boom-time hubris. Bring on the nemesis. [ . . . ]
Beneath the patient chastity of the Tate’s Ionic columns, these “spaces”, installations and heaps of rubbish – the last is an exact description, not an insult (or not only an insult) – “identify”, according to the exhibition’s official “supporters”, “with Tate’s willingness to take risks”. What are those risks, I wondered, as I listened through headphones to a story called Giantbum, in which a madman described his “expedition” through the bowels of a giant (“metaphors for cultural recycling”).
There is no financial risk – the taxpayer sees to that. There is no risk of attack, because the targets of such satire there is are the usual ones – bankers, war, people who are nasty to “Native Americans”. Is there an artistic risk? For something to be risked in art, there has to be some sense of pre-existing rules, something which is then remade, rethought or challenged. There has to be an orthodoxy to overthrow.
There is no such sense in Altermodern. So long ago has form, or painterly or sculptural skill, or harmony, or tradition, been rejected that it feels as if such things are no longer even known. In fact, nothing is known, or thought. The work just sort of sits there – acrylics, photographs, tape recordings, electrical gadgets, scraps of clothing, plastic toys, cardboard boxes. It is like a vast jumble sale of things which no one can ever have wanted.
The Unbearable Pointlessness of Subversion (Telegraph)