Browsing Tag: Turner Prize 2015

    contemporary sculpture

    Nicole Wermers, Untitled Chairs (2015)

    October 9, 2015

    wermers

    Last night I dreamed about this, my least favourite piece of art from the 2015 Turner Prize exhibition in Glasgow. What you see, is what I thought I was getting: fur coats on chairs.

    The coats are actually sewn around the chairs. So this is presented as a comment on claiming space in an urban environment. And about design. And about feminism. But I wasn’t dreaming about that.

    And I don’t think I was dreaming about death, so I must have been dreaming about sex. Although until this point, Wermers’ furry chairs, with their parted fringes, had flown under the erotic radar.

    Or was it plainly death, after all? How many creatures were bred for slaughter to make these coats and where are the coat owners? God knows you feel their absence.

    The catalogue will draw your attention to the fact the chairs are a Marcel Breuer design classic. But in art sometimes, as in poetry, meaning is just the meat with which the burglar distracts the dog.

    Let’s call it a poem, not only to paraphrase TS Eliot there*, but so we can allow it complete semantic ambiguity. (Another crazy aspect of my dream: Wermers was supposedly referencing a popular poet.)

    It appears the artist has form with this kind of thing. Double Sand Table is a 2007 work which also plays with modern design. “I had to keep thinking of them”: so says critic and poet Barry Schwabsky.

    That is from the catalogue too. Was I dreaming myself into the shoes of a far more eminent writer? Or does this sculptor really have a knack for tickling the unconscious mind and provoking REM?

    She’s up against an archive, a choral piece and an assemblage of house fixtures & fittings, so by default Werners’ chairs are the strongest visual image in this year’s show. My eyes are opened.

    Nicole Wermers can be seen in Turner Prize 2015 at Tramway, Glasgow, until 17 January 2016.

    *T.S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism; Studies in the Relation of Criticism to Poetry in England [London: Faber, 1933]

    contemporary art

    Bonnie Camplin, Patterns (2015)

    October 6, 2015

    patterns

    There are certain areas of human experience which don’t get on the news, don’t get written into soap opera plotlines and evade the attention of reality TV. They are pretty much off the menu.

    But testimony does survive around, say, mind control, belief in ESP, perception of extra-dimensional beings, witchcraft, fringe religious beliefs and a general susceptibility to the occult.

    Books have been written. And many of them comprise Bonnie Camplin’s display for the Turner Prize 2015. Wikipedia pages have been compiled, and these too have their place in her show.

    The archive is laid out on tables all around the gallery walls. Chairs invite you to sit down and read; a photocopier lets you copy what you need. The artist intends her work is a “research tool”.

    Meanwhile, a cluster of five monitors invite you to watch documentary films with a quite different tone to that of BBC4. Taken from YouTube, these deal with secret military programmes, and so on.

    Yet all of this information is suppressed or presented with a heavy pinch of salt in favour of a governable consensus. You won’t get on Question Time with a question about SS-controlled UFOs.

    It is not even as if Camplin’s authors and witnesses are mad. Madness, according to Foucault, is the absence of a work. But these people are minor video stars and scholars.

    But what the French philosopher also tells us is that, “Madness is the punishment of a disorderly and useless science”. Spend too much time with this work, you’ll deserve a sense of derangement.

    “Learning becomes madness through the very excess of false learning,”* he also says. And so Patterns, and the SLG show from which it has evolved, can be seen as schizogenic machines.

    It’s hard to recall a more dangerous exhibition. Perhaps a monumental installation by Richard Serra could fall on you, but Camplin threatens you with psychological collapse.

    That’s not her plan. It appears she prefers, by giving exposure to hidden bodies of knowledge, to expand our bounds of reality. Nevertheless, this piece should have a health warning.

    Bonnie Camplin is one of four shortlisted artists in a show for the Turner Prize 2015 at Tramway in Glasgow. This can be seen until 17 January 2016.

    *p.25, Madness and Civilisation, Routledge, 1997.