I am delighted to introduce Signor Facepalmo from Siena, Italy. He agreed to share his observations about people and art, even though it is sitting and not speaking in front of large audiences that is his forte. Over to him!
Kids call me the Super FacepalMan.
I have not always been like this.
You know my cousin, The Thinker, don’t you?
I was more like him, with my fist supporting my head, deep in thought. That is, until some ten years ago. Oh, the happy days… Thinking in sync with the Thinker, not caring about humans watching us as long as they didn’t invade our personal space.
Yes, we also want to have a safety bubble around us.
It is the worst. I hate it when a good-for-nothing chic or yob wows how cold my marble pebbles are. I can say “cold dick” in 50 different languages, like a friggin’ 3PO* and I don’t even know which nations speak the damn languages!
Sorry, I don’t usually swear.
My cousin is better off: he’s perched on a high pedestal, outdoors. There’s the predicament of pigeons, rain, and even snow sometimes, but that’s an expected occupational hazard for someone who’s bronze.
We were made to inspire contemplation. We were the proverbial “look before you leap” and “haste makes waste”.
It was a fine concept! It had worked perfectly well before the Internet.
The Web made everything instantaneous, and anything that’s instantaneous became fashionable. Dash off, rush in, speed up, jump, dive! It does not matter anymore if the pool has been filled up with water. You get to be a bigger hero if it was not, provided there’s a friend who uploads your cry of surprise to YouTube the moment you hit the tiled floor.
Have people become faster and cleverer than their ancestors? If the growing number of visitors who attempt to familiarise themselves with my private parts is any indicator, the answer’s no.
Artists are especially depressing.
To sculpt me, my creator had to study for 5 years, and then practice for some 15 years more to get the commission. It still took him full three months to chisel me out, you know.
Artists today are instantaneous. Snap, swoosh, wow, twit. Next, please! Dab, slap, blot, twit. Next!
Modern artists behave as if they are going to live forever and die next minute – both at the same time. Crazy. Art is not about snapping out artworks, it is about working out a masterpiece. One is enough, ask Bobby McFerrin! It takes time to think up, to learn, and to reflect to create a masterpiece. No, they say, we live in the fast lane! We have uploaded ten thousand new photos on Instagram while you were grumbling. Like us! LIke us on Facebook too!
If Shakespeare lived today, he could come up with a modern version of “Loves Labours Lost”:
“Shall I command thy Like? I may: shall I enforce
thy Like? I could: shall I entreat thy Like? I will.”
Thank God he’d died before the Like Generation took over.
The Thinker once told me Modern art was no longer about skill, but about the ability to create a universe of possible meanings in the mind of the observer, and that it required mental skill on the side of the artist rather than the prosaic abilities to paint or sculpt. In short, a modern artist is not sending across a message to make the observer reflect upon it. A modern, truly modern artist provides observers with a stimulus that helps them create their own idiosyncratic ideas.
I blame the doves. With so much shit flying around no one could keep thinking straight, even the Thinker.
In all professions, one has to study for years to make something that has a molecule of value. How come art is different? Isn’t it why there are so many young people today who want to “study art”? They just hate studying, that’s why. They hope to find a critic who would discover that “universe of meanings” in their “snap-dab-splash-twit” work.
And when they don’t find one, they come to me and point fingers, and touch the private parts.
There’s one kind of people I hate more than artists, and that’s executives.
You know an executive when you see one: boardroom haircut, face of a smiling shark, commanding his kids to keep moving on, because they have 30 minutes for Palazzo Publico (that’s where I happen to reside). They are focused, fit for anything that may come their way, and they always know how many tourist attractions in which order they are going to see in how much time.
Guys, if you’ve got a body of steel, a precise action plan, and a clear objective, chances are you are an intercontinental ballistic missile. And the best thing to do is to push the self-destruct button.
There may be no salvation for executives, but artists can still find their way to it. Except that it won’t be the fast lane they say they live in.
Don’t disappoint me.
*) 3PO is a robot that can translate a million different languages into the Standard Galactic. If you don’t know him, sing hallelujah: it means you are immune to the Star Wars mania (or have been stranded on an uninhabited island for the last 40 years).
I don’t agree with everything Signor Facepalmo said in his guest appearance, but I have to admit much of what he rumbles about resonates with my views. What about you?