Karl Pilkington’s Moaning of Life Season 2, Episode 1: Art

I love Karl Pilkington. Watching him explore the world, and his observations on it, can be a breath of fresh air, and of course, generally humorous, as is the purpose. It sometimes also adds to my bucket list…  I was excited to hear there would be more Karl to watch!  I just finished watching the first episode of the second season of Moaning of Life yesterday, and a bit coincidentally, the theme for this episode was Art.

While I didn’t think overall the episode was as interesting as previous episodes of this series or episodes of Idiot Abroad, I did find some of his observations and actions interesting, or at least relevant to issues I’ve brought up before.

Towards the beginning of the episode Karl visits the MOMA in New York. It was interesting to see how his opinions closely mirrored some of my own:

  • “it’s a shovel”
  • In regards to a pile of bricks:
    • “Maybe this is part of a extension they’re doing”
    • “I was just seeing a pile of bricks”
    • “Maybe the artist is having a laugh here”
    • General remarks on lack of signage or what the piece is

Throughout the episode Karl explores a variety of other art mediums, including performance art, which he, to his surprise, takes a liking to. He comes, at least to a small degree, to appreciate and learn about all of this art. But while Karl has the opportunity to explore art with a variety of artists and how they practice art, not everyone has that opportunity, so it is important for galleries like the MOMA or Tate Modern to also think about these visitors, reflected in Karl’s earlier confusion, wondering if it’s an inside joke, and perhaps a bit of frustration at a lack of signage. Art should be challenging, but not so challenging that it is isolating or limiting. How can galleries and museums help facilitate visitor experiences in a way that results in a sort of transformation like Karl’s where he can see, at least in some instances, the point and effort behind the art, or even to participate in art? How can artists and galleries ‘bring [art] to life for someone else….’? I think it’s important to consider the Karls of the world (or at least the type of person he is portrayed as), and wonder how we can appeal to those visitors, who are maybe (likely?) even non visitors. Not an easy question. But I think it must be possible to surprise those types of visitors (potential visitors?), like Karl is surprised by the performance art.

Also a great final scene in the episode- Karl looking for art in nature, likening a flock of birds to performance art. I think this is a great thing to keep in mind too- to look for art in the natural beauty around us.



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