Posted: May 18th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary art | No Comments »
This show may be just a hidden outpost of a relatively obscure art festival on the South Coast. But London policewoman Marta Zawistowska has reportedly been twice already.
In many ways this show is for her, from the cases full of postcards, to the photos and videos, and the shredded clothes and motorbike leathers on the walls.
Zawistowska is the everyday hero who scooped Kötting off a busy London road, staunched the bleeding in his leg and saved his life.
It was the day before the artist was due to fly to the Pyrenees with Anonymous Bosch in order to make the photographs which would have gone in this show.
Kötting and Bosch were due to project images within a remote cave and photograph the results with pinhole camera. The cave was in Fear Mountain (Montagne de la Frau).
In the event, the majority of images are blurry shots through a pinhole in a hospital room with a leg so scarred you can still see the broad stitches.
But the duo did make it to a cave, albeit one nearby. A friend in Hastings has access to a smuggler’s passage through an arch in their home.
What can you say about such luck, good and bad? Like a pair of neolithic artists, the duo were really determined to get into the Underland.
Plato had some relevant ideas about caves. But he wasn’t prepared for a laptop and projector. He wasn’t even prepared for the pinhole camera.
The ward soon became a Platonic cave with Kötting as its prisoner and Bosch as the philosopher who, with help of camera, interprets the shadows.
But the drama revolves around the crash, rather than the cave. The artist cheated death and, at the press view, still had the scar to prove it.
For me, this baring of wounds calls to mind Coriolanus. Shakespeare’s general is encouraged to show his scars to the masses and restore order.
He plays them down as: Scratches with briers/Scars to move laughter only. But pride is his downfall. He certainly wouldn’t have got arts funding.
Scars remain a great way to inspire pity and awe. When done with artistry, and dedication to a life saver, there is nothing wrong with showing them off.
Underland is part of HOUSE 2013, a festival of art in Brighton until May 26, see housefestival.org for directions and further details.
Posted: May 14th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary art, YBAs | 2 Comments »
(c) Nic Serpell-Rand
Some things don’t need to be said, unless you are one of the Chapman brothers being interviewed in advance of a rare public appearance:
“No one’s going to get hurt. No one’s going to get injured. There’s no blood involved,“ says younger Chapman sibling Jake. “It’s not spectacularised. No one’s going to find themselves with different parts of their anatomy on their faces.”
That’s a relief. But eyebrows have been raised at the news that the ever-shocking artists are taking part in an event for this year’s Museums at Night. The nationwide event is, after all, known for good vibes, positive experiences and warm inclusivity. “Not for much longer,” says Jake Chapman, via phone.
So it should be business as usual for the pair at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, where their event takes place on May 17. But enquiries as to the exact nature of that business are skilfully fended off. All the artist will say is this:
“It will involve folding. It’s gonna be fully hands on. The public will be fully involved. So it should be good. It’s performative, but there will be byproducts. There will be remains. I don’t mean to be cryptic about it but if people have an idea of what they’re going to do before they get there…”
He tails off at the full horror of the possibility, and says: “If people have a prejudice about what they’re going to see, or if they have a presupposition or an understanding of something, it’s quite difficult to intervene.”
Likewise, visitors to White Cube last year were left puzzled as to which brother was responsible for work in which gallery space. But such an air of mystery is just a way of “trying to jam the process by which people move towards presumptuous thoughts,” says Jake.
“I mean that’s the job of all art, really, the job of philosophy. The job of any incursion into normal human thought processes is to try and produce different ones and by producing different thought processes you produce different responses to things, you produce responses to the world.”
But those responses need not be positive. “I have no reservations about the pessimism in the work,” he continues. “But I wouldn’t say it’s a moralistic pessimism. It’s kind of a joyful, pleasant and funny pessimism. I don’t think the morbidity in it is Christian in that sense. It’s not punishing. It’s playful.”
Joyful, pleasant and funny sounds just the ticket for Museums at Night. But then Chapman goes on to say: “I think the idea of going into a museum at night begs a kind of question. It’s more the underbelly to rational sobriety.”
Jake says exhibits may display “truth” in daylight, but “what’s interesting in Museums at Night is they take on a different meaning in a sense they have shadows and they become a bit more sinister. So that’s my way of reinterpreting the positivity of Museums at Night in a more morbid way.”
Certainly, the aforementioned White Cube show had its share of morbidity. In Mason’s Yard a static army of zombie-like Blackshirts could be found admiring a room full of DIY Constructivist sculpture. It may have referred to the Nazi’s exhibition of degenerate art, but it was hard not to feel implicated.
“I don’t think people who go to Jerwood are Nazis,” he protests. “These are neo fascistic people looking at things which are modernist objects, so it goes beyond the superficial notion of it being a [general] audience looking at art.”
My next question is about the tension between a roomful of modernist sculpture and the brother’s frequent citations of post-structuralist theory. But Jake is quick to point out that “it’s not really a binary division between post structuralism and modernism.”
Speaking of implication, post structuralism is already wholly wrapped up in a critique of modernism. So “it’s kind of partially modernist,” he says. ”They’re so intermingled. They’re so dependent on each other even if it’s a critical point of view.”
“A critical point of view has to have an object that it’s criticising,” he continues. “And therefore it’s completely cannibalisiing and consumed by the very thing that it critiques, if you see what I mean.” Outraged critics of the pair, with whom I can sympathise, take note.
This also applies to angry members of the general public who are generally no trouble at all. “I think the privilege of being an artist is – and this may be the good thing about being an artist – is that it’s the work that is the most important thing.”
“You might get people shouting at you in Hoxton but not anywhere else,” he goes on. “There is a relative anonymity you can claim as an artist. I mean less so if you’re Tracey Emin or Damien [Hirst].” But if there’s one other place the Chapmans might get recognised, it is Hastings.
The brothers grew up there and, contrary to rumour, Jake says there’s “no chance” he would ever move back. But having traded the seedy seaside for rural Gloucestershire, he shows a lot of respect for the voices which were raised in opposition to the recent building of the Jerwood Gallery .
“It’s understandable,” he says. “Hastings is not traditionally a rich town so it must be difficult for people to see the idea of investment in culture is anything to do with assuaging the problems of poverty and I kind of agree in a way.”
That said, he believes there is “richness on many different levels, different strata”. In terms of local access to culture, the gallery tackles a certain form of “impoverishment. “So you could say it’s kind of good.” Perhaps Jerwood is already so confrontational there is nothing for a Chapman to add.
Be sure, however, the controversy is never programmed. Jake says there’s no method to their work. “It’s organised chaos. I mean even after all these years we’ve failed to establish any kind of stability.” Working out what to do and where to be is an ongoing challenge.
“The problem with making art is that by its very nature it’s very inefficient ,” he says. When asked how many ideas the pair reject, he says the ratio is “95% shit. 5% relatively alright.” Let us hope that it’s alright on the night or, if you are an undead member of the Gestapo, all wrong.
Jake and Dinos Chapman are appearing for Museums at Night at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings on Friday May 17 2013. This piece was written for Culture24.
Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: aggregation, contemporary art | No Comments »
Good afternoon/morning. It’s time for my weekly compilation of interesting links:
- First but not foremost, it’s been Frieze week in New York. Jason Farago captures the spirit of the event and bottles it for the Guardian
- Fans of Dante may not be thrilled about the arrival of a new Dan Brown book. The Telegraph publishes a brilliant take down
- Grossmalerman has a few tips for aspiring fellow artists with a piece about getting a gallery (on Hyperallergic). Funny/sad
- Tom Morton stumbles upon an online community of macrophiles and picks out an image of a bucolic giantess for a 1000+ word critique
- Find out what Paul McCarthy’s up to and be suitably horrified. Randy Kennedy spends time with the controversial artist for the New York Times Magazine
- You can rely upon American Suburb X for jawdropping picture galleries. These architectural scenes by Gabriele Basilico are to be adored
- Blogger Chloe Nelkin flew in a private jet to Berlin Gallery Weekend. I realise the city can be cheap, but that’s ridiculous. Kindly, she shares her experiences
- Art:21 runs a piece about Santiago Sierra. Team Gallery has been hosting his Veterans series in which real ex-servicemen are paid to stand in the corner
- You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can always judge the cover itself. The Casual Optimist rounds up some recent gems
- Last but not least, Degenerate Art Stream is a well-modelled blog in which artists of all stripes get to curate a daily stream of links. So be inspired at will.
Posted: May 12th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary art, interviews, sculpture, Uncategorized, YBAs | No Comments »
(c) Uma Jovita Valaityte
Sculptor Gavin Turk is perhaps best known for work about Gavin Turk. He has dressed as Sid Vicious and posed for a waxwork, or dressed as a vagrant. He has posed for photos as Andy Warhol or Che. And his degree show consisted simply of a blue plaque confirming his historic residence at the RCA.
But his booking at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery for Museums at Night was always going to be a bit different. There might not even be a self-referential artwork in sight as Turk fills the exhibition space with monitor screens, ‘flying’ carpets and skeletal pyramids, which he promises have occult powers.
The sculptor plans to install pyramids big enough for visitors to sit or stand in, and talks of “maybe getting some crystals as well”. Monitor screens all around the space will relay found footage to do with the structures’ fabled power. Turk hopes to raise awareness of their potential.
Now he lists the benefits of pyramid power like a true, if wry, believer: “It can preserve stuff. It can make you sleep at night. It can help you think more clearly. It can make plants grow quicker. It can generate battery electricity.”
The Persian rugs also have potential. “I’m feeling the carpets,” quips the artist. “I mean feeling the sensation of flying, not just sitting here rubbing them.”
The 100-year-old museum is new territory for the former YBA. Its wealth of Egyptian artefacts seem to have little to do with the pop culture within which Turk operates. “I was a little bit struggling,” he admitted to me over phone.
Pharaoh: King of Egypt is the British Museum touring show currently showing at the museum – complimented by their permanent collection of exhibits from that ancient world.
“I started wondering where it fitted, ‘where was ‘I’ in this thing?’ and also ‘who are these pharaohs, what are these pharaohs?’, because in a way they’re not really a ME theme,” he explains. “I haven’t really done or touched anything to do with them.”
Then his sculptor’s eye for form fell on one of the most fundamental structures of all time. “I thought ‘Oh, we can work with pyramids.’” So his discovery of pyramid power could make for one of the eeriest events Museums at Night has ever seen.
But none of what he says is without a sense of humour. Turk is ever ready with a quiet chuckle. It’s not quite clear how much credence he gives to the wisdom of the ancients.
“Obviously some of the earliest pharaohs were – what was it 3535 BC? – so they’re 6,000 years old,” he says with yet another laugh. “Which is pretty cool.”
Talk gets round to the present day situation in Egypt, which is, according to Turk, “very odd”. “Egypt has in its history been so super advanced and then it kind of fell back into a curious setback.”
Most strange of all was the attitude of Egyptians to the arrival of archaeologists in the 1800s. “They were kind of mesmerised,” says the artist, “and almost happy that various parties were coming and taking things away.”
But the history of overseas plunder is, of course, tied up with the history of museums. “The whole thing about museums is very interesting as well. With the idea that the museum was invented to bring back things from all around the world, like trophies,” says Turk.
Nevertheless, the artist is cheerful at the prospect of late opening museums throughout the UK come mid May. “Yeah, it’s great,” he says. “I mean, if you’re there during a nine to five day it feels like work. Whereas if you’re there after work, it feels like ‘after work’. It feels like holiday.”
His sense of fun extends to giving kids access to art. With partner Deborah Curtis, he runs children’s charity House of Fairy Tales. I mention sleepovers taking place in other museums and he enthuses about them:
“We just love that idea, you know where everything comes alive when the lights go off everything in the museum will come alive.”
His dual role may complicate his artistic practice, but he is happy to work outside his comfort zone. “I can kind of make mistakes, so this idea I couldn’t normally do, with this kind of crazy power of the pyramid,” he says with another chuckle. “It allows me to have a bit of fun really.”
It might even appeal to a certain incognito street artist from the Bristol area. A homecoming show by Banksy was his biggest to date here in 2009. “He’s going to show up, yeah, let’s get him to show up. We’ll do little cut outs of Turkses, big Turkses and Rameses.”
To the best of my knowledge the Pharaoh Turkses has just been invented by Gavin. Perhaps the pyramids have been about this mercurial artist all along.
Gavin Turk is bringing his pyramids to Bristol City Art Museum on Thursday 16 May 2013. See museum website for more details. This piece was written for Culture24.
Posted: May 8th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary art, fashion | No Comments »
Halfway between painting and photography, Stepnik’s photos show people halfway between their usual everyday life and then what might be called the disease of the future.
The Polish artist has colonised their skin. Dayglo pixels creep around the countours of their faces. Hair is electrified with luminous colour. But these touches draw you in, rather than repel.
Low lighting and a UV glow gives the gallery a clubby atmosphere. Stepnik’s photos also crop up as wallpaper which puts pressure on the frames around the prints on the wall.
The artist has said she wants to make work about “the electricity of the world surrounding me”. By mounting her photos in lightboxes she is already half way there.
This is a slippery show which blurs the lines between contemporary art and fashion photography, between photography and painting, between art and decoration.
So ultimately these images disturb a serious art lover, if such a po-faced thing exists. As the press release points out, they would not be out of place in a fashion mag.
How does one draw a line around high art to ensure not getting lost in contemplation of a Gucci ad? In truth, insulation is impossible. It’s a fact this show illuminates.
Stepnik puts herself in the mix with a brave performance in which she cut off her own hair. Not so much courageous as an artistic statement, but for the results she would have to live with.
The takeout of all this is that hair, painting and the gloom can all be used to conceal. And yet as our diurnal senses adjust to a setting like this, Stepnik’s blurred lines all invite scrutiny.
City of Angels can be seen at 20 Eastcastle Street, London, until 23 May 2013.
Posted: May 5th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: aggregation, contemporary art | No Comments »
It’s beach weather here in Brighton, but first aggregated art links for a Bank Holiday Weekend:
- How could a show with such a title be anything but great. Read about “Ain’t Painting a Pain?” by Richard Jackson at Orange County Museum of Art
- Billions and billions of stars are now available for viewing at Apexart in New York for the “Slack-jawed wonderment” of all who drop by
- Some more committed Russian protest art, this time from student Peter Pavlesnkiy. He’s stripped off and wrapped himself in barbed wire. Wince
- It surprised me to learn that Bedwyr Williams is an official druid. Karen Wright visits the artist in his studio ahead of representing Wales in Venice this year
- Michael Jang’s family photos are better than most. American Suburb X post a hugely enjoyable gallery of his kin larking about
- Madrid’s Reina Sofía to show more than 200 works by Salvador Dalí. I for one would be quite ok with the legendary surrealist coming back into vogue
- The Hammer Museum in LA is showing an exhibition of sculptural oddities by Enrico David. Contemporary Art Daily has the pics
- Tracey Emin is interviewed at length about love, growing up and Louise Bourgeois. Art Info carry the three page story
- Blogger Chloe Nelkin has clearly enjoyed Tate Modern’s low key show of 97-year-old Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair
- Henri, the Existential Cat, has made a new film for the Paris Review. I think I’ve linked to him before but he is fantastique.
Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: artist talks, contemporary art, psychoanalysis, Uncategorized | No Comments »
(c) Jason Schmidt. Courtesy the artist.
Anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with the practice of artist Martin Creed will know all about the fastidious numbering of his works. These begin with Work No.3 in 1986 (a yellow painting) and so far stretch as far as this year’s Work No. 1461 (an installation made with adhesive tape).
What might surprise you is that Creed’s appetite for order and record keeping extends to collecting sound files of every interview he undertakes. So when I catch him on the phone a technical hitch at his end throws the methodical artist.
“Wait, are you recording this?” he wants to know. “Can I get a copy of it?” And after the giving and receiving of assurances that I will later send him an MP3, we are ready to continue. It is quite clear that Creed takes the business of talking seriously.
This bodes well for those lucky enough to find themselves at the Freud Museum during Museums at Night 2013. On Thursday May 16 the Scottish artist will be on the spot, if not on the couch, as he improvises an after hours lecture, with the help of slide projections and a bit of music.
“It’s hard to do things,” he says. “Everything seems just as difficult as everything else: it’s just as much work to try to talk and say something that I think is alright as it is to try to fix and be okay with the shapes or colours in a painting or a sculpture or whatever.”
Creed refuses to be drawn about finer details pertaining to the evening: “I’m not sure — I’ll probably try just to think out loud and talk about whatever comes up”.
But he does admit the event should resonate with his newfound surroundings. “Absolutely, aye,” he says, “I do psychoanalysis and I’m a fan of Freud. Yeah, I have been [in analysis] for a very long time.”
Creed reveals he first saw an analyst in 1993: “I did it because I was desperate. I wanted to speak to someone.” Now he goes four times a week. “It’s a bit like going swimming or something like that: I think it’s an integral part of my life.”
At any rate, intensive therapy is clearly commensurate with a blue chip art career. This most exacting of artists views the activity as labour: “It’s work and I feel like I have to keep doing it.” This may come as some surprise, considering how effortless the artist’s official numbered works appear to be.
In 2001 he won the Turner Prize for Work No.227: The lights going on and off. It is hard to imagine a more coolly minimal work than an empty room alternating between light and darkness. Creed has a professional detachment which belies his sometime inner turmoil.
Nevertheless, when he agreed to take part in Museum’s at Night, the Freud Museum was his first choice. “I’ve always liked visiting there. I feel like it’s a nice place, you know?” he says. “Just seeing the consulting room and the stuff he had around.”
But for someone with experience of therapy, Freud’s consulting room might be something of a lion’s den. Therapy and performance are bound to overlap in such a historic setting. And what to make of the rumour that the founder of psychoanalysis didn’t even like music.
“I didn’t know that but I don’t believe that,” Creed is adamant. “And if he said that I don’t believe him.”
So then, what would Freud have thought of contemporary art itself? Surely he would have hated it? “I don’t know, maybe,” says Creed, then adds with a laugh: “I don’t know if I like it”.
But I remind the controversial artist that he once suggested that visitors should run around museums to see exhibits at speed. “I personally hate feeling as if I have to spend ages looking at things, as if I’ve got to be a good boy and read all the labels.
“The thing I like about museums is that you can come and go as you please, you know, especially if it’s free to get in,” he adds. “I like being able to go into a gallery and just see one painting and then go out again. I like that about galleries, as opposed to theatres where you’re stuck in your seat.”
This sense of duty is something the artist wrestles with in his work. With regard to public speaking, he refers to “the feeling I have to take responsibility, the feeling that I’m responsible for everything I do. It has repercussions because it affects other people.”
“Included in that feeling is a feeling of not wanting to be…sort of fake…because I sometimes have the feeling when I’m talking or when I’m working that I’m doing something somehow conventional — the usual — as if I’ve been programmed. I don’t want to be like that and it feels like a fight not to.”
As you can see, as a veteran of psychotherapy, Creed knows how to dissect an emotion. But strange to say, he aims to bring the results of such introspection back “into the world out of my little room on my own, because it’s scary and exciting and maybe it’s the way I learn about things really.”
“Basically I don’t want to be a w***er sitting at home, and actually I think that’s probably why I want to do exhibitions and gigs and talks and stuff — to basically work on things in the world outside of my own domain, to get out of the house” he says.
This calls to mind the celebrated slogan of Work No. 232, ‘the whole world + the work = the whole world’. It is something of a koan which makes you wonder about the unconscious origins of art or music. The metaphorical lights are sure to go on and off and on again when Creed does his thing.
Advance booking required for the May 16 event at the Freud Museum. Visit the gallery website for more. Piece written for Culture24.
Posted: April 15th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: aggregation, contemporary art | No Comments »
Hello, it seems Spring has made a belated appearance. But if you’re not already enjoying the sun, here are some art links:
- Criticismism is sad this week (having learned that Catalan film director Bigas Luna is no longer with us). The Tit and the Moon is a personal favourite movie
- Timothy Taylor have an Antoni Tapies show and Contemporary Art Daily has a fine selection of installation shots. So more Catalan art here
- Next time you see a record breaking art sale make headlines, think twice about the health of the art market. Art Info tells you how to read those hyperbolic stories
- Salon carries disturbing news about a Beatles bootleg called “No Pakistanis”. The song eventually became “Get Back”. This story’s wild
- Stuart Jeffries from the Guardian spends time in a shed with Bedwyr Williams. The Welsh artist is always good for amusing observations
- New York Times, meanwhile, interviews Claes Oldenberg and finds an Old World European sensibility at work in the poppy hamburgers and ice cream cones
- This is pretty dumb and also pretty amazing. Hyperallergic record the Rembrandt-themed flashmob which launched the re-opening of the Rijksmuseum
- Musical interlude: AnimalNY brought you a tuneful supercut filled with the movie world’s best computer hackers. Secure your mainframes
- This is a good Q&A with an inspiring array of reference points: Lizzie Homersham interviews Salvatore Arancio for Aesthetica magazine
- And finally, Jill Steinhauer appears to blame the market for the rise of middlebrow art. She makes clear what is and what isn’t in this piece for Hyperallergic.
Posted: April 8th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: aggregation, contemporary art | No Comments »
Hello and welcome to another round up of art-related links culled from the last seven days:
- Here’s a piece about death etiquette from the Guardian. Did have a link to the Heffner song, but paranoia struck.
- Film critics are generally more greatly missed that politicians anyway. Here’s a kind letter the late Roger Ebert sent to once very young fan Dana Stevens, now movie critic at Slate
- Unequivocal good news: the rebuilding of the Rijksmuseum is a triumph. Enjoy this spacious look around with @FisunGuner from The Arts Desk
- Der Spiegel writes about the growing importance of the cultural sector in Amsterdam and European cities beyond
- @cmonstah flagged up a shocking interview with architect Denise Scott Brown. If you didn’t know much about her, here’s why…
- When rural idylls go bad… the Guardian report from the trial of Graham Ovenden, the 70-year-old artist accused of child abuse
- Unicorn chaser might be needed after that. How about this daft contraption for sending emails via your flying V guitar
- Smithson write up a design history of the chess set. Could the game be making a comeback? Well, with a bit of help from Pentagram…perhaps
- Whether or not you like contemporary dance, this deserves a look. Dancer with osteoporosis Claire Cunningham incorporates crutches into her performance
- Reading Ben Street on painting is a close second best to actually looking at painting. Take this essay on Kiera Bennett, for example.
Posted: April 1st, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: aggregation, contemporary art | No Comments »
Happy Easter/April Fool’s Day/interminable winter. Here are some seasonable links from the online world of art:
- What might happen if Guernica came back to Britain today? Nigel Wheale writes an intriguing account of the painting’s first and last visit to these shores
- He lives in NYC, goes to 30 exhibitions a week, and still critic Jerry Saltz worries he might be getting out of touch. Read his alarming piece on the death of gallery shows
- An artist makes a very strong statement as to why she should never have to make another artist’s statements. A must read for practitioners everywhere from Hyperallergic
- Ruth Ewan gives Radio 4 a truly Utopian vision, even if it does get a little far fetched towards the end. But that’s what comes of working with teenagers (via @StudioVoltaire)
- Beautiful/Decay write up a Dutch sound sculpture which takes on an aspect of Eindhoven’s history of manufacturing. Features musical cigars
- It’s not quite kittens in boots, but We Make Money Not Art couldn’t resist these photos of dogs in cars, and neither could I
- Here’s another piece of spectacle: two famous Nick Caves come face to face in New York where one was staging an art performance the other a rock music gig
- So as to get anything done, the only way I enjoy console games is vicariously. But this YouTube review of BioShock Infinite could tempt anyone
- The strange story of the week was that a Picasso through which owner Steve Wynn had once put his elbow sold for more than he paid for it. See The Independent
- If you’re younger than 70 and you still haven’t made it in the art world, do not despair. Art Info notes a trend for pension-age breakthroughs by no less than six now well known artists.