“Artists are so bizarre and come from such strange places”: Glenn Ligon interview below

Mark Leckey, Affect Bridge Age Regression (2017)

In hypnotherapy, an affect bridge is a way of linking feelings in the present with feelings in the past. But if an affect bridge were a bridge in real life what form would it take?

Mark Leckey has free associated a bog-standard graffiti strewn motorway crossing. It’s an icon we never knew existed, until we saw the six foot scale model bathed in sodium light here in Cubitt.

This is a bridge seen at speed from the back seat of an Austin Allegro. You are moving too fast to read all the writing on the sloping walls, although the banks invite you to get out and climb.

The show allows you to explore the mystery of the humble underpass: what it might mean for both Mark Leckey and any grown adult who drove past a similar vehicle.

In the gallery, though, it is a sculpture. The eye is led in two separate directions: through and across. It is a cruciform piece, so within the context of Western art, this is a kind of crucifixion.

The soundtrack is as jubilant as a second coming. Tribal drums underpin a page-long list of elements which the artist wishes to cast “OUT!”.  Leckey recites them like manifesto points.

It was Kraftwerk who best captured the rhythmic qualities of a motorway. The rhythm in here is as infectious as the sickly golden light. There is a push-pull dynamic as strong as an individual’s past.

The flatly horizontal bridge begins to resemble an analyst’s couch. This is someone else’s session, a very public session, but this piece transcends the artist’s personal biography, while remaining sincere.

Affect Bridge Age Regression can be seen at Cubitt, London, until June 30 2017.


Carsten Höller, Karussell (1999)

karussell

It’s just a working carousel in an art gallery, no big deal. We are not only used to such wholesale borrowings from the real world, we might expect as much from Carsten Hölller.

This Belgian, after all, is the artist responsible for turning Tate Modern and Hayward Gallery into theme parks (as if they weren’t already), with adrenalin-pumping slides up to 58 metres long.

But Karussell won’t increase your heartbeat. It moves slower than the second hand of a clock. And you can look, but for once I don’t think you can touch this piece or ride one of the tiny chairs.

What you get instead is a mental journey, from the post industrial city in which this piece is now on show, to perhaps a village green in some low country at the time of a summer fayre.

Duck ponds, picturesque copses, and church spires are painted all around the crown, while the central column of this aging machine features folksy still life arrangements of flowers.

Also, it should be mentioned that Karussell revolves in silence, bringing a pastoral mood of peace and quiet into what is an otherwise loud show at BPS22, visually and otherwise.

So, once you’ve dispensed with music and thrills, what does a carousel offer you? My guess is that were you to climb on board you’d feel safe, bored, and conspicuous.

You’d feel especially foolish if you tried to fit into one of the gold hovercars. Headlights blazing, these chariots of the air are completely at odds with their tame, nostalgic context.

The utopia from which they come is already out of date. It is so out of date, their quotation here, in a show about folk culture, is laughable. Are we to laugh at the rustic families who once enjoyed these?

Or is the joke on us, as we imagine ourselves boarding a round trip to a more idyllic time, when the local coal mines were still open and painting a church was a simple act of faith?

Karussell can be seen until 31 January 2016 in Les Mondes Inversés: Contemporary Art and Popular Cultures at BPS22: Musée d’Art de la Province de Hainault, Charleroi, Belgium.