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February 19, 2007


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George Hunka

Well, to call something a fraudulent work is to call its perpetrator a fraud, an ad hominem criticism that really doesn't confront the work itself but rather some representation of its creator. It says more about the confrontational state of mind of the spectator and his openness to the work in question, rather than the work itself. It could very well be good or bad on its own terms, in which case its terms and its execution, its historical and cultural context, could be examined. There's plenty to argue about without trying to figure whether the artist is some form of 21st century P.T. Barnum. Fun as that might be, but the place for that argument might be the bar or the lobby afterwards. I'm more ambivalent about whether or not it makes good criticism, and would question David's comparison of a piece of bad art to a deep-fried Twinkie, or whatever it was.

And let this cranky old man remonstrate, just a bit, with your characterization of the Next Wave festival. Many of its productions originate from artists who are 40 years old or younger, and even those older artists it features create work that's just as fresh and new, if not moreso, than a lot of new work being done by 20-year-olds. "Next Wave" isn't a generational label, brand though it may be.


Nice post. My comment is kind of a variation of George's. I used to think about the fraud thing a lot while getting into out-there music. I worried that I would like something and then the composer would burst out of my closet and say "You fool! I've tricked you! This music is meant to be without merit at all!" Which folks do every now and then after all. Though usually not with the closet part.

What got me over it is that I realized if I found something to value in the work, who cares what the work's creator was? Maybe the composer or whoever intended it to be bad and failed. I find others have a similar fear of being duped when being faced with something new, especially if it's much hyped. But one shouldn't worry about whether one has the right and true opinion about a work, just what one gets out of it.

Soho the Dog has some good thoughts on fraud and hoaxes in music, as if eerily anticipating the recent scandal in the classical music world where it turns out a respected reclusive and recently deceased pianist put out dozens of recordings made by other pianists under her own name.



Quibble though George may with my lowbrow metaphor, it was in the context of being direct and honest about what we're putting in our bodies--mind or belly. Bad art won't give you a coronary, but it could cheapen your life, albeit temporarily. I think my post was clearly not making a bid for including "fraud" in the standard lexicon of (theater) criticism; in fact, I tried to show how subjective and slippery the term is. All the same, I don't quite agree with his desire to sweep it under the carpet as useless gossip or personal attack. Pretentious mediocrities deserve ridicule--in the lobby and in the paper.

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