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commodify the revolution

Downstairs at Selfridges right now (as other people feel compelled to climb mountains, I can never resist Oxford Street in December) is a space full of high-class counterculture-styled consumer items. Last year I was amazed to find Mark Pawson zines in there, but this year two shelves have swollen into a major section, with displays themed for alternative press, flyposting, subtervisement, sticker art, skating (including chunks of genuine tarmac), recycled clothes, DIY culture, rude toons, badgemaking, stencil art and, topping off the collection, two huge graffiti-ed lorry doors. They've even employed counterculture-styled shop assistants to engage you in casual coversation over the anti-style badges, pornographic ash-trays and ironic t-shirts (I wonder if there's a specialist temping agency?). The night I was down there, there was even a DJ. The worst of it is, though, that there are things you want down there. Lomography cameras. Sigmund Freud action figures. Mark's little book of plug wiring diagrams. And then you can go upstairs and derange the £300 dresses or poke three different sorts of AIBO. Days of small-press fairs, zine-networking schemes, counterculture networks and unoffical art, all shrinkwrapped, bar-coded and available for purchase at prices ranging from reasonable to ridiculous and back again. What happened? Did Decadent Action (who used to advocate blowing your giro on tea at the Ritz) finally win? Will I get used to watching attitudes I thought were radical appropriated, commodified and innovatively repackaged as this month's lifestyle enhancement item or amusing t-shirt slogan? Revolution for sale, expensive but worth it, changing the world, one amusing christmas gift at a time.

To complete my life as a disgusting tick on the underbelly of the consumer leviathan, I went to the opera last night to see Glyndebourne's Carmen. the tickets cost £49.50 ea. (though as usual I bought them at two tickets/300 words) and it was sponsored by British American Tobacco, for heavens' sake, and was mostly about how cool bull-fighting is. Dirty, dirty, dirty ...

But then, at least I'm not claiming that creating random poetry through the medium of sheep has something to do with quantum mechanics.

Comments

( 7 worms — Feed the birds )
mattcallow
4th Dec, 2002 06:02 (UTC)
you jest about selfridges?

i'm jealous about glyndbourne...
cleanskies
4th Dec, 2002 06:33 (UTC)
they don't publicise it much, but ...
It does concession down a long way for students, unwaged, etc. The cheapest tickets in Oxford were £10, but for some reason we'd been put in the top-price seats (I suppose that's what they had spare).

No, I don't jest about Selfridges. You think I could make up them selling bits of interesting tarmac? (:O
crazycrone
4th Dec, 2002 06:12 (UTC)
Incredible Weirdness
...Counterculture shoppe within Selfridges?! I suppose I should go and look at this. Of course, there's the problem of being overcome with consumer frenzy for Nunzillas, Big Books of whatever,etc., that I simply cannot have.How did this ever happen? Something vaguely frightening about it...Some sort of plot....Mumble....
cleanskies
4th Dec, 2002 06:34 (UTC)
Re: Incredible Weirdness
Major danger. I now own a very amusing sponge bag.
applez
4th Dec, 2002 07:49 (UTC)
Amusing sponge bag?
No, I'd better not ask. :-)

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So what's wrong with a little quantum sheep poetry? It's a fun idea and if the result is poor, you can always say 'Ewe!' ;-p

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cleanskies
4th Dec, 2002 07:58 (UTC)
Re: Amusing sponge bag?
I've no objection to the idea, I'm just not convinced it has anything to do with quantum mechanics!

P.S. I am groaning as I write this.
applez
5th Dec, 2002 08:03 (UTC)
Re: Amusing sponge bag?
So, who do you think was at it first? Nothing like meme transmission in the art community. :-)

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/12/01/national0151EST0423.DTL

(in case the link doesn't work...about a NY arts student who is painting cows for similar random poem generation)

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re: commodifying the Revolution - hey, why not? You know OUSFG *has* to form the Felix Dizhinski (sp?) Security Collective. :-) NorLonTo somewhere, right? :-)

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( 7 worms — Feed the birds )