Even crap can be addictive


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Category: Trinidad Politics 07 Oct 07

The politics in our country reminds me of some “art” I had once seen and which led me to exclaim: “But is it art?”


This nearly got me thrown out of a fashionable London gallery.


The “art” I was looking at was a cordoned-off, unmade bed of an apparently slatternly single woman who transplanted it, complete with filthy sheets, a used condom, cigarette ends and dirty panties straight from her house to the gallery.


The “bed” was her exhibit. It was supposed to jolt me into thinking and questioning, which is what great art supposedly does.


I just thought she took the adage of “washing your dirty linen in public” too literally.


Another time at Britain’s prestigious Turner exhibition, I stopped at one particular exhibit and ranted to my husband that I “couldn’t believe people got away with such nonsense. Why were we paying to see nothing?”


The “exhibit” was a bare room where a single light went on and off the way it does when a bulb is about to blow, or T&TEC is warning us of an impending blackout due to “works.”


The artist was a contender for the Turner Prize. Two months later he won. I felt vindicated when Madonna swore on live television as she presented the prize of £25,000 to him.


Even a celebrity who makes money by being superficial thought it was crap.


Speaking of which, I also saw the series of paintings where the artist used actual elephant dung, smuggled from Africa and the London Zoo, dried it in an airing cupboard to produce his “work.” The artist won the Turner Prize of £20,000.


I also saw the “important” exhibit of a cow and calf bisected and suspended in formaldehyde. Unsurprisingly, this also won the Turner Prize.


The British justify it, saying it “stimulates debate.” How much can you talk about dung? And say it’s art?


Lately, I’ve been turning to the people around me asking: “But is it politics?”


But I have to admit this: The exhibit showing a woman’s most private life brought out the worst in me—a transient, mindless, cheap, voyeuristic thrill.


Even crap is addictive. Obviously, I was hooked. Why else would I go back?


Likewise, current politics in this country is entertaining. I have watched people tune into radio stations for broadcasts of political meetings they same way they do to a Stag three-car giveaway.


I have asked: “Why do you listen to this?” I hear the reply because “it’s kicks.”


I have asked: “Is any politician talking about the things that affect your life and that you care about, like crime, long-term jobs, healthcare and transport?


The reply: “No; I know who I voting for already. Nothing anybody says will make me change my mind. Only something drastic like if they take away Cepep. But they all promising more Cepep not less.


“And come election time, Indian vote for Indian, African vote for African, and everybody knows that. I want to see how Dookeran and Panday chop up those Indian votes.


“And protest or no protests over Eddie, Valley, Hinds you know if Manning put a donkey in their constituencies, come election day people will vote for that.”


If you can have that conversation ten times a day and get a similar response, you know you are up for another of our race-based elections, where people, who are deliberately kept dependant, clamour around politicians asking “what you have for us?”


The only party that tempts me now is The Environmental (sic) Reform Act. They put out a one-page, incredibly ungrammatical manifesto with 30 short points such as “legalised marijuana.”


How do we explain our politics to an outsider who asks about the “ideology” of our various parties? “Err, ideology; say what?”


In this case, as life imitates art, we ask. “But is it politics?” Or dung?


If anyone says to me: “If you don’t like it, leave.” I’ll say: “But I’m hooked.”


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur