FRINGEWORLD 2017 – An Absolute Idiot’s Guide to Art (2 stars)

Sylvia Sippl has an arts degree and is desperate to use it! You and me both, kid. In fact, I’m sure most people in FRINGEWORLD 2017 have arts degrees. Sippl is lucky that she is able to use her skills to teach, a fact she delights in telling us for a good 10 minutes of the show. I’m confused as to what this show is – judging by the first part, it’s a woman who needs to tell us how valued she is and how stupid everyone around her is. Cue funny and ignorant things her students have said. Students who are so young they probably haven’t had the chance to have completed extensive research on world affairs. Making fun of dumb things kids say is shooting fish in a barrel – and Sippl shoots away.

Now it may seem that I am being unfair here, however Sippl adopts a harsh tone and haughty attitude towards her audience – I feel as though I am in school again. Moving onto art theory and Sippl competently shows us the different elements of art. Throwing in a few amusing quips and facts help, but her schtick continues to be funny things her students said about each topic or how she dumbs it down for them, being the lowest common denominator. All that this does is assume that the audience is in this category, too, although with a title like that she has probably attracted art lovers and colleagues more than actual punters trying to learn about art.

The real highlight of the show is when Sippl takes us through the different genres of art in a mini art history lesson. It is clever and well-researched, although heavily reliant on mainstream Western white dudes, but at least Sippl acknowledges this. Her obvious passion for art that challenges, that pushes people to the limits creatively shines through as she speaks about performance art and Cindy Sherman with exuberance. The show tries to do too much, it would be great to focus on the art history section which is an absolute stand out. An Absolute Idiot’s Guide to Art is a quirky little show that has the right idea but lacks the warmth and sincerity it would have in another presenter’s hands.


When: 9th – 11th February 2017 | 6:45pm

Where: City of Perth Library | Cathedral Square | PERTH

Tickets: $17 – $21

Info: Duration 55 minutes | Suitable 15+ | WA Artist