Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ageing Cockney Philistine rambles on

Whilst I was strolling around the South Bank, the part of London where I grew up, over the weekend I was struck as I always am these days by the terminal decline of the area from a living, breathing neighbourhood into a full-blown tourist trap

… as demonstrated by the plethora of living statues that now infest the place.

Something similar happened to Covent Garden years ago now.

Of course, not everyone agrees with my take on cliched, generic, dismally unoriginal performance art. This site specialising in supplying street artists has a different take on things

Less is definately more as mesmerizing stillness melts into surreal comedy moments and high drama. Human statues are very versatile, requiring minimum space they can be a theatrical solution for small areas, hold a large crowd in bigger areas and add artistic kudos to empty areas.


I have real conceptual problems with living statues and their Starbucks-esque ubiquity. I have also reserved a small part of my own personal Cultural Hell for the tourists who go out of their way to pose family members with the statues and take pictures of them.

By doing so they our displaying their fundamental lack of understanding of how cameras work.

Photographs don’t move.

I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons why living statues spray paint themselves silver, so that bored friends and relatives back home in tourist land are able to distinguish which person in the tedious snaps being forced upon them is the actual performer and which is the bell-end.

So anyway, next time you’re in London photographing a performance artist and you hear someone mutter ‘dickhead’ in the background it’ll probably be me.


Frank O'Dwyer said...


*rushes to flickr to delete pictures of street performers in covent garden area*

In fairness I think there is MAYBE an interesting picture to be made of these things by using a long shutter speed or multiple exposures so the crowd looks like it is moving, or by panning so the 'statue' looks like it is moving and the crowd are all living statues. If the instructions to my camera weren't in flemish and if I didn't consistently get low scores in spatial reasoning I might be able to figure out how to take such a thing.

Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. :-)

Stef said...

You have, of course, hit upon the only interesting way to photograph these people

Score 10 points and my gratitude for correcting my omission ;)

Daniel said...

Great post. You articulated very well what I felt about the twats when I was a student in London. ;)

Elinesca said...

With my humble respect, I think tourists will be tourist and that people capture these situations/statues for a lot of reasons.

Perhaps this is not something worth wasting your bandwith on?

Stef said...

It's my badnwidth and I can do whatever the fuck I like with it ;)