Art and Big Brother: The Troubled Nexus
by Sean O'Toole
After much hype, not to mention heated private debate over the merits of placing contemporary local art in the Big Brother 2 house, the proposed live auction of these artefacts has been cancelled. Initially scheduled for October 30, the event was cancelled due to seeming public disinterest. According to Kathryn Smith, one of the curators responsible for initiating the idea, the planned live auction had to be cancelled, "mainly because we risked not filling all the seats, and thus losing a huge amount of money, jeopardising art sales and thus fundraising potential".
Whether this confirms a singular lack of interest in contemporary art amongst Big Brother fans, or its reverse, a highbrow aversion of anything to do with Big Brother, remains uncertain. Seemingly undeterred by this setback, the organisers are, however, still punting the online auction site. By all accounts, this novel albeit un-tested formula of cross-platform media networking offers audiences a chance at bagging works by artists the likes of Brett Murray, David Koloane, Doreen Southwood, Jo Ractliffe, Norman Catherine, Sam Nhlengethwa and Sue Williamson. All the participating artists donated their works in support of the Topsy Foundation, a charity that supports children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Recognising that some critical perspective is needed on the idea of curating a 24-hour live art exhibition, the organisers will launch Broadcast Quality: the Art of Big Brother II. This 72-page, full colour coffee table book is edited by Kathryn Smith, and features contributions by SAFM's Michelle Constant, writer Alex Dodd and academic James Sey, amongst others. According to Kathryn Smith, "The book presents television as an alternative public platform for contemporary art in a cultural climate that favours the mall over the museum, and is seductively designed as an artefact of two communication media - visual art and interactive television - finding value in each other."
To place a bid, visit the online auction at www.aucor.com/bbart
To order a copy of Broadcast Quality: the Art of Big Brother II, contact Kathryn Smith on (011) 339 2679 or firstname.lastname@example.org, alternatively Suzette Bell-Roberts on (021) 422 1100 or email@example.com.