Sunday 24 December 2006

Best Contemporary Art

What is your understanding of the label "contemporary art"? Borné tripe created by living arts graduates? Or do you think in broader terms? For me, the most exciting contemporary art display of 2006 was The Sultan's Elephant: that mechanical jumbo which plodded around London over a bank holiday weekend. It knocked spots off anything Tate Modern and the smaller contemporary art galleries could provide, and it caught the public imagination big time. Nick Park's Wallis and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit won an Oscar this year for best animated feature film. My favourite exhibition was Split Infinities: the Fantasy & Sci-fi Artwork of Les Edwards. For cutting-edge technological art, how about Simon King's breathtaking slow-motion shots of great white sharks bursting out of the sea while hunting seals, filmed for BBC's Planet Earth? For sheer aesthetics, I can't think of anything more pleasing than underwater shots of world freediving champion Tanya Streeter gliding among the most streamlined predators on the planet in Shark Therapy. Beautiful. If these visual highlights of 2006 don't count as contemporary art, then the label has no meaning and should be scrapped.


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