conceptual art, site specific art

Meaning Decoration Mass at Grey Area

August 22, 2010

Just as there is decorative art, so too is there decorative news. The lightweight stories in freesheets like Metro are there to soothe. The editorial is designed to sell advertising, and this is more or less true for any commercial publication.

But as soon as a newspaper is used to decorate a gallery, meaning returns to the pages. You can see them for what they are: wallpaper. And the colour pictures and image-driven ads become eye candy without any pretension to meaning.

Worse still, the messages which do emerge from this flat and neutralised scree of information become absurd. (The England manager says of a football game, “This is important,” and the pull quote is reprinted about a million times, as can be seen from this show.)

You would have to say that given its context in Metro, nothing is important, and yet Metro itself, and the news culture to which it belongs, is of real concern. Here artists Huw Bartlett, Chris Smith and Lulu Allison have all highlighted the paper’s anodyne force.

Using only scissors, glue and a few hundred copies of an August edition, the three have created a series of site specific installations at Grey Area. A 1926 quote on the wall by Theo Van Doesburg proclaims the end of art. These days he might have added something about journalism.

Meaning Decoration Mass is at Grey Area, Brighton, until August 29. See the gallery website for opening times.

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