First, the bad news. Our planned updates from Venice never eventuated because of a number of logistical reasons. The most pressing problem was the Serene Republic’s lack of net cafes, the second problem was that there was no time to stop drinking free booze offered by desperate arts funding bodies from obscure countries and thirdly, the streets there are full of water. So instead of our updates, we’ll be doing a full review of La Biennale in the fullness of time.
We got off the plane and walked into the launch party for The Art Life TV show, the first episode of which went to air last night. While we were in Venice we had been forwarded a number of the press previews and, in the words of The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Clare Morgan, it felt like “poachers turning to gamekeeping”. Morgan’s witty opening line was very apt since our charges are much like wild animals – namely, artists and the people who like art. As we did press interviews there was a lot of talk of the various critics we’ve discussed over the last four years. Martin asked if we thought they’d take their chance for some pay back. We we a little worried because although we’d pointed out it was never really personal, you know, people have feelings too. But there’s been nothing but silence on that front. Meanwhile we knew our real audience – the readers of this blog – might not take too kindly to a TV show that isn’t actually aimed at the art world, but is in fact aimed at a general audience with an interest in art. We know the people who leave comments here can be brutal and so we feared the worst. Instead we’ve found that some of our harshest critics actually liked the show. For example:
“Comic potential… a stroke of genius!” – Ian Milliss
“Originality, wit, [a] spark of artistic whimsy!” – Whistler’s Uncle Teddy
It’s so nice to see Milliss and Teddy coming out of retirement to leave such flattering comments. Instead of cheap shots aimed at settling old scores, we got reasoned, reasonable and well thought out comments instead. Hope you like the rest of the series just as much! Others meanwhile offered more detailed feedback on the finer points of making a TV show. Long time friend of the blog Fulanito observed:
“It was great to see contemporary art getting a bit of air-play last night… i sincerely hope it continues. on the whole it was entertaining, but obviously as a first show perhaps there is a bit of refining to do. most importantly for me was the question of rhythm. in terms of the length of each take etc the editing was spot on. my problem was more with inconsistancy in the amount of time dedicated to each artist or section of linking narration. While an intro, first artist, link narration, second artist, link narration, third artist then conclusion type format, (with a similar amount of time spent on each artist, and a similar amount of time for the narration bits) would perhaps be overly structured i feel like the show needs to move at least a bit toward that pole. in one school thought good editing is something that you don’t notice, and i found myself noticing the shifts between sections at various points.”
The real audience of course are the people of Australia. They are paying their 8 cents a day for quality ABC programing and we did our best to give it to them. In a true democracy the only franchise you have is your vote, and thusly the people of this great country cast their votes last night by switching on their TVs.
The Art Life scored well in the ratings with 299,000 viewers tuning in. We are assured that this is a good result and we’re incredibly flattered anyone watched. We kicked the arse of the show on at the same time on SBS – 51 Birch Street – that scored a mere 151,000 viewers. But beating up on SBS isn’t clever or smart and besides, when you look at the 1,029,000 people watching the end of Numb3rs on TEN, the 960,000 watching Crossing Jordan on Network 7 or even the 334,000 watching an ancient repeat of Comedy Inc on Nine, our little show was a distant fourth. Still, it’s nice to get into the same business as Eddie Maguire. We dare to dream!