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: 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 28th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
There’s a political and a performative flavour to Found Objects this week, read on and enjoy:
- Scriptonite blog plays tribute to an incredible stunt by the soi-disant Artist Taxi Driver, as backdoor privatisation hits the NHS.
- We Make Money Not Art has interviewed Liberate Tate, and its happy to play devil’s advocate on this issue of corprorate sponsorship
- God only knows how this came about, but the US President and Steven Spielberg have both taken part in a genuinely funny skit
- Meanwhile NYC mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan has released a bass heavy rap anthem to support his campaign. See the video on Animal NY
- The final ruling on the Cariou v. Prince case appears to be in, with the former winning an important victory for appropriation art. See Hyperallergic
- Back in the UK the Turner Prize shortlist has been announced. Most of the attention has gone to comic genius David Shrigley
- Marseille is the 2013 European Capital of Culture. Observer journalist Vanessa Thorpe enjoys some sun
- In case you’re wondering what kind of contemporary art Jonathan Jones actually likes, the answer can be found in this piece about . . . Matt Collishaw
- Great premise for a blog. Art in Common is mapping and commenting on all the public artwork in New York. Check out this piece on Barbara Hepworth
- Finally, churchtanks. I’ll say that again, churchtanks. If you’re still none the wiser pay a visit to Beautiful Decay for the chilling new face of modern warfare.
Posted: April 21st, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
A depressing week for current affairs not least for lack of art angles:
- Instead we have a link to a Q&A with a very terse William Eggleston from the Independent
- Meanwhile a serious critique of some watercolours by less radical artist, Prince Charles
- Hennessy Youngman has released this half hour cut of so-called CVS Bangers. It is tres amusant
- Astute readers will notice my use of French. Well, I’ve been inspired by Artnet’s contemporary art glossary
- A joy forever: John Hamm, aka Don Draper, popped into Sesame Street to explain the meaning of the word sculpture
- The harmless school of advertising: DDB Paris have scooped a D&AD award with a clever literacy campaign
- Great minds think alike, but which great mind said it best. Whoworeitbetter plays snap with art (via AnimalNY)
- Someone has lovingly animated an interview with the late great David Foster Wallace. See Brain Pickings
- From sublime to ridiculous, this week also saw the arrival of a monkey fart as art. See Hyperallergic
- And from the ridiculous to the ideal: a wooden slide in a library which doubles as a screening room.
Posted: February 6th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Does rock count as art? If so there can only be one major story this week. Here it is along with all the others:
- Said rock band My Bloody Valentine release first new album for 22 years and Pitchfork give it a rare 9.1 out of 10
- Syliva Plath also made headlines this week. London Review of Books tears into the girly cover of the 50th anniversary edition of The Bell Jar
- Old news, but still headline worthy. Jean Paul Sartre visits Andreas Baader in jail and Der Spiegel carries newly released transcript
- Art Info asks how Banksy built his brand and reports from the dead end this “mysterious’ figure now finds himself in
- Pedro Velez is tired of “friends curating friends” and explains in Newcity Art that the situation is endemic in Chicago
- Ubu web posted an album of music by, among others, Mike Kelley, above which Jean Baudrillard reads poetry. If only my French was better…
- The Guardian reports on a missing blank cheque which is drawing crowds to the public gallery in Milton Keynes. They sound bemused.
- Aerial photos of Ducth Tulip fields look like a software glitch. Stunning shots courtesy the ever-stimulating Animal NY
- After the End interviews Liam Scully as the artist plans to sell off all his old work in a liquidation sale. Makes perfect sense
- Hyperallergic profile Ragnar Kjartansson whose clowning about sounds like just what the art world needs right now (along with a new MBV album).
Posted: January 29th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Here’s criticismism’s weekly selection of art links, gathered for your enjoyment:
- A Belgian living in Mexico with a nice line in political interventions around the world: Modern Art Notes podcast scores an interview with Francis Alÿs
- Mark Brown from the Guardian takes a look at the new Kurt Schwitters retrospective at Tate Britain, another reappraisal of art in these isles during the 20th century
- Meanwhile, The Telegraph reports on another fugitive from the Nazis. But Imre Goth got in hot water for painting Goering as a morphine addict (and he was)
- Roberta Smith reviews a show on Surrealism and drawing at the Morgan Library and Museum. Sounds completely brilliant
- Also in the Guardian was an interview with Carl Andre ahead of his show at Margate. Emma Brockes probes him about murder accusations
- Hyperallergic blogs about the new cultural expenses being given to Brazillian workers. Expect something of a golden age in that part of the world
- The Independent sent Tom Peck along to Lolcats – The Exhibishun, a show given over to an internet meme. He wasn’t impressed
- The Exhibition List carries a post about the Jimi Hendrix Memorial in Seattle, a work in progress by the sounds of it.
- Artista blog revisits Colchester for a report on the fortunes of their newbuild gallery First Site. Curved walls were always going to make curating an additional challenge
- Slate reviews a ‘new’ Werner Herzog film about (happy) snowbound hunters living in Siberia. You can just hear the voiceover already.
Posted: January 21st, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Welcome back to the week you’ve just lived through, but this time with premium quality links:
- Saddest thing in the world: when an outlaw street artist is fully embraced by the mainstream. Cameron and Branson must really have it in for Ben Eine.
- This story is weird and a bit one sided. But it’s always good value to find a Telegraph journalist frothing at the mouth over goings on at Arts Council England.
- Long read of the week: The New York Magazine devotes an in-depth profile to gallery owner Larry Gagosian, a man for these hyper inflated times.
- The Inependent’s tantalising In the Studio series pays a visit to that of arte povera trailblazer Giuseppe Penone.
- Artist Nick Cave takes his Soundsuits to Grand Central in New York. Check out the video of a similar event in North Texas University. There’s a great moment about seven minutes in.
- 150,000 animal noises have been made available online by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Check out the giant otter on Animal NY. It’s completely mad.
- Here’s something we should have guessed. To experience some or other piece of art as sublime, you may want to watch a horror film beforehand. The Creativity Post explains.
- Another link from Animal NY, this one a gallery of shops selling Jamaican dancehall records. It seems vinyl just never went away.
- How well do avant garde short graphic films translate to Vimeo? Quite okay, as it turns out. Take a look at these three examples from Another Design blog
- And finally, a feel good moment. Or feel less bad. Artist Justin Bettman has been trading bagels with the homeless in exchange for stories and photographs.
Posted: January 19th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary, Denmark, Figurative painting, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Books come in all shapes and sizes, but perhaps the most potent format is both small and black. The collected quotes of Ai Weiwei should have come in nothing less.
Editor Larry Warsh has trawled through some 74 interviews with the Chinese artist to bring readers in the West a meditation on his life and situation in soundbites.
Then again, his countrymen have always liked to keep things short and snappy. Ai tells us that the quotations of Chairman Mao were rarely more than a tweet-length.
Admittedly, China’s pictographic use of Twitter allows them 140 words rather than 140 characters, but still. Confucius can be quoted just four words at a time, says Ai.
Since these are verbal epithets, Weiwei-isms contains a degree of repetition and odd moments of banality. A modern day Shakespeare, “might be writing on Twitter.” Really!?
But if that obvious statement were to come true, the bard could not do better than this from Ai’s twitter feed (@aiww): “The world is a sphere, there is no East or West.”
The ultimate power of this book lies not in the words, however, but in the free-wheeling attitude they represent in one of the most restrictive societies on the planet.
“Expressing oneself is like a drug. I’m so addicted to it,” says Ai, who has indeed found the most dangerous and least legal narcotic in China.
As has been much publicised, in 2011 he was busted and spent 81 days behind bars. “During the days in detention I thought most about the moon,” he says, incorrigibly.
Ai’s belief in free speech makes interview-giving an important part of his role in the art world. Along with the social media usage, one wants to call it a practice, but that word sounds too academic.
Which this tweet certainly isn’t: “Overturning police cars is a super-intense workout. It’s probably the only sport I enjoy.” This allies him with rebel artists Voina in Russia, who did just that.
Artists in the West have always taken risks, be that earning the displeasure of the church, rejection by the Paris Salon or simply the derision of the gallery going public.
But on the whole making art is a legitimate enough business. Ai meanwhile is risking his neck and this gives his art another dimension. Call it a sort of realism.
Despite our relative freedoms, his little black book really is a manifesto. Ai may be kicking against the pricks, but he makes it look easy, irrestistible, even enjoyable. So join him.
Weiwei-isms (pp125) is edited by Larry Warsh and published by Princeton University Press. Available in all good bookshops, and this bad one.
Posted: January 14th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Top stories of the week include a portrait of a future queen and the new single by a former one. Read on…
- There was much derision heaped upon Kate Middleton’s first officical portrait. My favourite was this example by Mark Hudson in the Telegraph
- Bowie records an album in secret. But hold on, wasn’t this the subject of his so called golden tweet a few years back. Anyway, L-Magazine looks forward to the release
- Mark Landis is a prolific art forger who gives away his work and calls it philanthropy. Meet this strange customer on the Daily Serving
- The New York Times reviews a major Nam June Paik show at Smithsonian American Art Museum and finds the Korean artist worked best when he kept things “on screen“
- Charlotte Higgins provides a write up of the 2013 Catlin Guide complete with some entertaining quotes from director Justin Hammond
- This is too sad. Jorge Selarón, who designed an iconic flight of steps in Rio, was found dead on his most celebrated artwork
- Art21 posted a film about and with artist Richard Serra. The sculptor talks about the importance of process in making any sort of visual art
- Writer, musician and performer Paul Dutton has insightful things to say about the businessification of the arts. Check out his piece in impressive new magazine Wild Culture
- I hought Art on the Underground was impressive but it seems in Stockholm they take Metro art to another level. Check out the gallery on Beautiful Decay
- Finally but not leastly, Ralph Steadman’s longstanding friend Robert Chalmers makes a compelling case for the artist’s greatness, with support from Johnny Depp.
Posted: January 7th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Well, here’s your regular pick of the best art links around:
- Art Observed report on a fine looking Sol LeWitt show at Marian Goodman gallery in Paris
- Contemporary Art Daily also have pictures from what seems like a cracking show: Judith Bernstein at the New Museum
- ArtInfo carry a short film about Russian art world star Aidan Salakhova, currently showing at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art
- You know you’re getting old when the features on aging begin to appeal. But the Atlantic reveals how artistic talents can bloom as other parts of your brain die (Thanks Amy Riley)
- It’s lengthy but the Guardian’s Rachel Cooke will tell you all you need to know about Kurt Schwitters in advance of his show at Tate Britain this year
- The same paper asks why Schwitters fan Damien Hirst has parted ways from his worldwide gallery Gagosian. Because he can, seems to be the answer
- Artist Omer Fast was apparently threatened by the FBI for making his fictionalised film about a drone pilot. That just makes his piece Five Thousand Feet is Best even better
- The Casual Optimist blog carried a link to an interview with the late Robert Hughes. 50 mins long but time in his company is highly recommended
- On the subject of critics @FisunGuner linked to this witty sculpture of said profession by Jasper Johns. Now that’s a bad review
- Hyperallergic make a case for welcoming thoughts, feelings, opinion and occasional bouts of ignorance from beyond the art world. Hey, why not?