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

Phil Collins, dűnya dinlemiyor (2005)

Dűnya dinlemiyor is Turkish for The World Won’t Listen, which as you may know is a 1987 compilation album by The Smiths. At the time of release, the world was listening. The album was a chart hit.

And that was just in the UK. As this work by artist Phil Collins reveals, the sentiment and the message of the album reverberated all the way from Columbia to Indonesia via Turkey.

The Turkish installation of this epic project was filmed over several days in an Istanbul nightclub, to which fans of The Smiths were invited to sing along with a karaoke backing to the 18 track album.

Thanks to the efforts of these volunteers, 30 years on, the audience for this work will be able to listen more closely to an album which Morrissey appeared to predict the world would ignore.

He was loved him all the more for it. And his imitable persona has made the 2,000 mile journey from Manchester for this hour long film. A local, for example, performs with a back pocketful of flowers.

More interesting than the inevitable Moz impersonators, are the millennials who take part in this exercise with good cheer. There Is A Light That Never Goes is joyous, rather than maudlin.

In a similar vein, we have a hard rocking version of London and a version of Half A Person which is equally good for a giggle. It’s comedic to be a Turk singing about Euston station or the YWCA.

When it’s not being funny or being awkward, dűnya dinlemiyor is a moving reprisal of a collection of songs that take one back to the 1980s, via this highly circuitous cultural route.

The final track on the album, Rubber Ring, features a warning that until now was buried in time: “Don’t forget the songs that made you laugh and the songs that made you cry.”

The singer is a middle aged goth who gives her all to the final performance of this artwork. Either she can’t let go of the music of The Smiths, or she has moved on and felt the consequences.

This work can be seen in Now, Today, Tomorrow and Always at Towner, Eastbourne, until October 8 2017. The show is an Arts Council Collection National Partner Exhibition.


Simon Senn, Just Let Go (2012)

Athens: cradle of Western civilisation, and in more recent times the canary in Europe’s coal mine. On the face of it, the perfect setting for Simon Senn’s dionysian artwork.

Just Let Go is (so far) a single video loop in which three angry locals rampage the length and breadth of a concrete wall, starting fires and throwing black paint.

They are rendered anonymous by balaclavas and a motorcycle helmet, and go about their anarchic business with what appears to be quite some joie de vivre.

Well, the good news is that you can join them. What might have remained a diverting 53 second film is in fact an ongoing project allowing for frustrated folk worldwide to let off steam.

The low budget film comes with a low budget A5 flier: “Do you need to let it go?” it asks. “How do you personally deal with this climate of instability and austerity?”

It looks like the kind of thing you might stumble across in a local daycare centre. State-funded, you would think, if you came across it anywhere outside a gallery.

Indeed, Just Let Go, is registered as a non profit organisation. But in Switzerland, rather than here. This only adds to the play of shadows in a truly subversive work.

Each of the resulting films, and one hopes there will be some more, is more than an act of therapy. It is a warning shot to governments everywhere, all the more potent for its obscurity.

If Warhol said art is what you can get away with. This is art which lets non-art people get away with the unthinkable: riot, destruction, nihilistic frenzy and revolution.

It is at once the most artful and the least artistic thing in Bloomberg New Contemporaries, this year. Don’t wonder how it will all end. One doubts even Senn knows that.

So, as the flier says, to arrange a session please email: info@justletgo.ch

Bloomberg New Contemporaries can be seen in the World Museum, Liverpool until 26 October 2014. It will be seen again, in a varied form, at the ICA, London, between 26 November to 25 January 2015.