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Season 1 2006

  • 2006-03-13T06:00:00+01:00 on BBC Four
  • 60 mins
  • 4 hours, 0 mins
  • Documentary, Special Interest

Channel 4 series of art documentaries

4 episodes

1x01 Is Bad art for Bad People

  • Series Premiere

    2006-03-13T06:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

Jake Chapman's documentary starts with the Mutt urinal (where else? How about Olympia?), then Marcus Harvey's Myra Hindley, and moves onwards to "impoverished representations of human bodies and actions" and "joyful destruction". Is shocking bad? Brock Enright: video/performance artist who offers kidnap experiences (think of it like an S&M version of CRS in The Game. BBC: "Enright admits to concerns that the service is beginning [to] get out of hand and is becoming too violent. 'Right now I am worrying. I'm thinking about it a lot.'" Times journo: "I found myself oddly reluctant to talk about what had happened".) Is beautiful better than poor taste? Is the appetite for aesthetic imagery merely a longing to be reassured that the positive, beautiful things in the world are permanent? Goya. More YBAs, but not this image of Hirst and head. Then, from shock to banality (Jeff Koons, enigmatic), nihilism, pointlessness, laughter ("originality has no value whatsoever"; copying and damaging is pointless too: the damage to an object or image is "always recuperated immediately" - Chapman Bros). This obsessive-indifferent appetite for intensity/pointlessness was an in-crowd symptom at art school. The doc asks us to think about our preferences, but is more an immersion in (rather than an argument on) the value of shocking/bad/nihilistic/banal art images. Entertaining, and that the adverts during the broadcast seemed to be more ironic and to need more consideration, suggests it succeeded somewhat. The Hills Have Eyes film Levis moonbathing Nivea for men More Than car insurance Nokia slide handsets The Brothers Grimm dvd Pepsi Max Cino D and A opticians (cartoon men being squeezed into sausage cases, a metaphor for impersonal customer service; resonated with the next night's documentary) The Pink Panther film Guinness Lloyds home insurance Think! wear a car seatbelt Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire dvd Saab Airwaves chewing gum Hostel film Ghost Recon game 28 Days Later tv Lynx clicker Benefit cheats Listerine anti-plaque No Angels tv

1x02 The Human Canvas

  • 2006-03-14T06:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

We have come to expect art to penetrate the surface of things.... ... to make us think in new ways... ... to cut across boundaries of what is acceptable. In a culture obsessed with bodily health and beauty, it is particularly shocking to see people cut themselves in the name of art. There are things going on in both mainstream gallery art and in an underground subculture that challenge every taboo we have over what we should do with our bodies. The Human Canvas explores the performance art and body art subculture at the edge of the modern art scene, where breaking the skin, bleeding, cutting and scarring are common practice. And all staged in front of a paying live audience. This provocative, challenging and shocking art form provokes powerful gut reactions in most people that see it. After all, why would you willingly let someone cut a design into the skin on your chest? Or have cosmetic surgery in front of a live audience? The scene is so controversial that it is attracting concern from government agencies and health officials across the world, some of whom want the art form banned to protect both the health of the individual artist and the public at large. But whatever your view, the key question for many people is: what is to be gained from willingly enduring pain, losing blood or going into shock for the sake of art? What is clear is that if you can get beyond the shock value then performance and body art raises important questions about what our bodies mean to us.

1x04 The Pervert's Guide to Cinema

  • 2006-03-16T06:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA takes the viewer on an exhilarating ride through some of the greatest movies ever made. Serving as presenter and guide is the charismatic Slavoj Zizek, acclaimed philosopher and psychoanalyst. With his engaging and passionate approach to thinking, Zizek delves into the hidden language of cinema, uncovering what movies can tell us about ourselves. Whether he is untangling the famously baffling films of David Lynch, or overturning everything you thought you knew about Hitchcock, Zizek illuminates the screen with his passion, intellect, and unfailing sense of humour. THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA cuts its cloth from the very world of the movies it discusses; by shooting at original locations and from replica sets it creates the uncanny illusion that Zizek is speaking from 'within' the films themselves. Together the three parts construct a compelling dialectic of ideas. Described by The Times in London as 'the woman helming this Freudian inquest,' director Sophie Fiennes' collaboration with Slavoj Zizek illustrates the immediacy with which film and television can communicate complex ideas. Says Zizek: 'My big obsession is to make things clear. I can really explain a line of thought if I can somehow illustrate it in a scene from a film. THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA is really about what psychoanalysis can tell us about cinema.'