Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Studio Visit: Eloise Fornieles

Posted in Reviews by paulpys on October 23, 2009

 

London, 26/02, Paradise Row

 

Having meandered through the East End, I arrive at Paradise Row Gallery for the private view of Eloise Fornieles’ ‘A Grammar of Love & Violence’. Upon entering the space, I discover a dimly lit room featuring an installation, within which Eloise’s performance is set. The context of the installation – scaffolding, kissing chairs, carpets, hair strewn across the floor – invokes a sense of eerie domesticity and intimacy. Atop a tower of scaffolding sits Eloise, sworn to a month of silence, inviting participants to climb up and share a story. Intrigued, I join Eloise and tell her about a strange dream I had. The experience is somewhat bizarre – having told a story, one expects immediate verbal reaction. And yet all Eloise could reciprocate with was body language, a quiet hum or miming a word. Conversation dissolved, turning to a monologue.

 

By the exit, I find a stack of blank envelopes and letters. I write to Eloise with a question, attaching my address. I go home eagerly awaiting an answer.

 

London, Mid-May

 

No letter arrives. I contact Eloise with a set of questions regarding my IRP-A – questions relating to her practice and the curatorial agenda of the project – applying William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin’s Third Mind to exhibition making. I receive an enthusiastic reaction, followed by a flash of realization – Eloise writes ‘believe it or not, I have been carrying your name and address with me for some time and it now finds itself in the far reaches of the Pacific’. Again, I find myself eagerly awaiting a letter.

 

Copenhagen, 01/07

 

A chunky envelope drops through the door. Excited, I notice ‘Nippon’ on the stamps – the letter arrived from Japan. After tearing open the envelope, I find the envelope I had myself addressed, this time ‘customized’ by Eloise with a bizarre dragon-like creature. Inside that, is a large pink sheet of paper, folded like a puzzle – a puzzle which holds the answers to my questions. Smartly folded, I carefully thread question to answer, inevitably becoming slightly lost. I flip the sheet to discover Bruce Nauman’s ‘Body Pressure’ on the other side.

 

London, 12/10

 

Having missed Eloise by two days in Istanbul, we finally meet in London. I stand outside her house, an old vicarage in London Fields, carefully inspecting the pink letter. Her bedroom acts as her workplace, adding another level of intimacy to the already peculiar notion of a studio visit. We sit back in large armchairs, sniggering at how posh we look drinking Lapsang Suchong and eating figs. ‘Courtesy of my dealer’ pips Eloise and laughs her head off. Her desk is littered with small, intricate watercolours of horses, surrounded by large coffee table books of recent exhibitions at the V&A – magnificent, embroidered dresses from the Russian court, Uzbek tapestries. Whilst discussing her performances The Oyster Bar and Senescence, I catch myself screening the room for clues – things, objects, pictures that in some way refer back to Eloise’s practice. As we discuss her Beijing performance which included Eloise walking naked on a treadmill, whilst carrying a dead, shaved goat (wild!), I notice a photo of Zinedine Zidane’s face covered in blood and a series of drawings of animals, their spines painted as red threads running through their bodies. We talk about family origins and Eloise’s Anglo-Argentinian heritage. As I notice a book on Bas Jan Ader, Eloise describes a project she would like to carry out which includes her travelling to Argentina by boat and forcing herself to learn to speak Spanish. We veer towards practicalities – the IRP-A, the upcoming 176 ‘Testing Ground: Live’ weekend, yet without loosing the informal, chatty nature of our encounter. We discuss the letter as Eloise elaborates certain points. As I get ready to leave, she apologizes – ‘I’m sorry about all the animals, there are also mice, a cat and a snake, but the snake is at work now’. I hesitate and wonder whether or not question what exactly the snake’s ‘work’ entails, but instead I take it as a given, having already teased Eloise for her family stories sounding too much like a Wes Anderson script.

Advertisements

Zhanghuan: Zhu Gangqiang

Posted in Reviews by danwang on October 22, 2009

Zhang Huan: ZhuGangqiang in the White Cube

4 Sep—3 Oct 2009
Mason’s Yard 

What strikes you immediately when you walk into White Cube (Mason Rd) is that two live pigs have been put on show in the days of the spread of the Swine Flu. How could farm animals live in such a formal and “white’ gallery? Recently, Chinese established artist Zhang Huan presented his first solo exhibition Zhu Gangqiang (Cast-Iron-Pig) in the White Cube gallery. Following Zhang’s previous practical experience, he used to do performance by his own naked body in a masochistic manner, and tested human tolerance in adverse conditions.

As for this exhibition, Zhang depicted a story about how during the earthquake in Sichuan province on May 2008, 60,000 people lost their lives in the disaster. But it was a miracle that a pig was under a collapsed building and survived for 49 days on rotten wood, dirt and rain water. After the rescue, the pig became famous and was named Zhu Gangqiang, meaning a strong-spirited pig. Artist was impressed by the pig’s strong willpower and had an idea to exhibit this pig as a pilot experiment to present death and a belief of life, recalling Zhang’s previous spirit in his earlier performance.

The concept of his art work was quite simple, but the presentation was hard to achieve. Firstly, Zhu gangqiang was impossible to bring to UK because of the law of animal epidemic prevention. Instead the artist found two of the same species and size pigs and also built an ideal western style farm. It was controversial that the artist used all British materials to tell a Chinese narrative and it was hard to understand the concept at first glance. It seemed to be a happy farm for families to visit, which the context of his art work transformed from a memory of disaster into a sort of entertainment. Secondly, Zhang believed the Zhu Gangqiang survived by his spirit. But it was argued that animal sometimes live by their basic instinct in a biological way.

Zhang also created his paintings of Zhu Gangqiang and human skull using temple incense ash. From his idea, the incense ash was an element of collective fortune wish and attempted to show a life circle among hope, life and death. In fact, this style of paintings was not new and was based on previous resemblance. Compared to Zhang’s early work, for example 12 square metre, the artist himself, with honey all over his naked body, sitting in the dirty and smelly public toilet, was bitten by flies, and explored the relationship between artists and tolerance of the hard environment. This piece of work was impressive and considered as an avant-garde of Chinese performance art. However, nowadays Zhang, like other artists in China, is using Chinese elements and making a number of similar works as a factory production.

Following Andy Warhol’s saying, “Good business is the best art,” nowadays artists consider more about how they can run their own business. As for artist Zhang, who is based in Shanghai now and has more than 50 people working together in a factory size studio, does not only exhibit his work in the world, but also participate in other field of inter-culture. For example he also worked as a director of opera Semele in Brussels. The definition of ‘artist’ has already been widely extended; artists switch their roles in different areas, and witness the art world’s borders becoming vague and indivisible from the social order.

…and along came a ghost.

Posted in Reviews by luizateixeiradefreitas on October 22, 2009

When arriving in Travessa Dona Catarina one forgets it’s location within the humming chaos of Botafogo – one of Rio de Janeiro’s busiest neighbourhoods. The quiet hill-like street feels like being in a small village, with charming little houses and small three-story buildings. It’s like being back in the 60’s. Ringing on the number 18 and waiting for someone to come and open the big blue door fills me with a mixture of apprehension and nervousness. I’m at Cildo Meireles’ Studio and he has just opened the door with the warm smile of a typical “carioca”. (That’s what you call people from Rio).

My visit had a reason. I was there to discuss with Meireles a project that will take place in Porto in June 2010 and invite him to take part in it. This exhibition is entitled Like Tears in Rain and deals with notions of death, memory and visibility/invisibility of traces. Its scope is to commission artworks that use the artists’ views on these subjects, working upon them together with the notion of the ephemeral nature of existence.

The method I chose to approach him, that of being on a professional studio visit, fails me (as it would fail anyone else). Meireles disarms any type of strict code of conduct one might try to have around him and from the beginning makes you feel comfortable and at ease, just like an old friend.

We come in to an amazing open space, with a 10 metre high ceiling. It’s like a workshop, in the middle there are tables, tools of all kinds, sketches and artworks. To the left side a huge wooden table that can sit more than 12 people is surrounded by summer stray chairs with flower patterned cushions. The table is filled with papers, books, cups, telephones and a whole other array of objects and ‘bric-a-bracs.’

(more…)

Rosalind Nashashibi at the ICA

Posted in Reviews by patgibson on October 21, 2009

thumbnailWalking through the crowded rooms of Rossalind Nashishibi’s ICA exhibition I kept thinking about a recent trip I made to the Freud museum. Freud’s original psychoanalytic couch is preserved in glorious technicolour. Strewn with brightly hued Persian rugs and luxurious chenille cushions, and encircled by a miscellany of archaeological artefacts – African, Classical and Prehistoric figures – the good doctor’s divan is an object so dense with auratic overtones – the incalculable influence of psychoanalysis on contemporary culture – I found it hard to breath.

Now in front of me at the ICA was a group of films deeply cognizant not only of Freudian thinking but also concurrent theoretical projects, structural anthropology in particular; bodies of thought so dissected and assimilated, even ossified, in art practice I wondered how Nashishibi could meaningfully retain a voice. Strands of cultural theory quietly percolate though the work – concepts of ‘ the double’ and ‘the gaze’ to name a few – but as I progressed through the show I began to see them as a loose and associative framework through which Nashishibi extends her own investigations.

On the ground floor three films are compellingly condensed into a single presentational arc: a pattern of formal congruencies and departures highlights the focused concerns of Nashishibi’s recent practice. The first film, Footnote, a minute long loop, reconstructs a late night vignette from Nashishibi’s life, with Helke and Thomas Bayrle playing the artist as she reads an issue of Afterall in bed, her boyfriend asleep beside her. The enigmatic image of a toy frog, resting on the ledge of a garden basin, cuts in and out, and the image is washed alternately in orange, yellow, blue and green tint.

Next, Eyeball – perhaps the most instructive of the three- is a progression of found images of human faces, physiognomic detail observed by Nashishibi in the architectural backdrop of New York City, interspersed with observational sequences of male police officers decorously parading outside the First Precinct Station in Tribecca. The observed ‘faces’ – three indentations in a wood panel, circular windows between a brick pilaster, for example – are an aesthetic recall of modernist painting, Picasso in particular, and the primitivist fantasies that inspired him. Sound – the macho bustle of a New York city street – is decoupled from the documentary footage, alienating Nashashibi’s characters from their own subjectivity. The unattributable visage prevails, overwhelming the depersonalised mass of individuals with a primordial archetype.

Last in the triptych, The Bachelor Machine Part 2, consists of three interpolated elements: two parallel screens and a sound recording of a public lecture by Thomas Bayrle during which he digresses to articulate a dystopic vision of technological society. On one-side Bayrle and his wife Helke replicate scenes from Alexnder Kluge’s 1968 Artists under the Big Top, a portrait of circus organiser Leni Peickert. On the bordering screen, blurred images from Nashishibi’s own films, obscured to basic shapes, confirm her ethnographic leanings.

In the upper galleries are Nashishibi’s two most recent works. The Prisoner restages a sequence from Chantal Akermans’ The Prisoner – itself a restaging of a Proustian passage – in which a vulnerable young woman is observered from a distance by a male pursuer as she traverses Paris. Two projectors in the centre of the gallery show the film simultaneously on parallel screens with a short delay between them, as film is thread from one machine to the next. The most consciously cinematic, Prisoner is a rehearsal of means, unpacking and re-presenting a potent moment in film.

Jack Straws Castle, the last and most complex work, opens with naturalistic shots of dense forest from which anonymous male figures emerge. Details from renaissance painter Piereo di Cosimo’s fantastical The Forest Fire – strange unresolved hybrids of human and animal – cut in and out. Night falls and the filmic register shifts, the forest is transformed to an orchestrated film set.  Nashishibi spectacularises the unremarkable actions of a film crew. Orders are remotely issued and obediently implemented, a community in service of cinematic artifice.

N’s hermetic films are never completely sealed off. In fact, intricacies of construction – offsetting the sound of the hollow clack of the protagonist’s heels in Prisoner, for example – paradoxically allow for greater freedom. The artist displaces the social with the anthropological, antique patterns of culture and quotidian social structures. But in framing the subjects of her films she also attempts to frame herself – her mother appears on the set of Jack Straw Castle and Footnote is autobiographical – dissolving, or at least broaching, any implied power asymmetry between artist and the people she observes.

The Posters Came from the Walls – A film by Jeremy Deller and Nick Abrahams, Prince Charles cinema, 17/10/2009

Posted in Reviews by zoecharaktinou on October 21, 2009
Still from the film courtesy of the directors

Still from the film courtesy of the directors

I

In St. Petersburg, Russia it is the 9th of May – Victory Day, a major holiday that marks the victory over Nazi Germany. It is also Dave Gahan’s – Depeche Mode’s lead singer – birthday. A large group of Depeche Mode fans are gathered amongst the rest of the peopl who are out to observe the military parades. They are so proud of the coincidence and they celebrate Gahan’s birthday with such fervour as the rest of the country’s who is celebrating winning World War II, declaring it ‘Dave Day’. They have their own banners and the hold their own parade, singing proudly. One of the Russian fans declares: “We are Depeche-ist. Like Communist, like Fascist”.

Depeche Mode are one of the most popular, succesful and influential bands of the last thirty years. They have a sacred status amongst both devoted fans and your average music listener. In their hometown of Basildon, Essex they are not known much today, not really and they never had a number 1 in the UK, however they have touched so many other places in almost undefinable but definitely diverse ways, as revealed by Jeremy Deller and Nick Abrahams’ film ‘The Posters Came from the Walls’. A film, shot exclusively on video, about the fans of Depeche Mode, it sets out to observe the effect that the band has had on people over the years. Their journey takes them – and us – around the world, in order to meet people who testify of their faith and devotion to Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher.

I woke up early on a Saturday morning in anticipation and made my way to Leicester Square’s Prince Charles cinema for 10:30am where I would have the opportunity to watch this film. I have seen Depeche Mode live and I know of countless people who love them and enjoy their music. All these fans who I know personally and who are currently travelling around Europe to see Depeche Mode live, were on my mind whilst waiting to watch the film. The atmosphere was almost celebratory in the auditorium making the experience even more intense.

(more…)

Kutlug Ataman – Dictionary at Francesca Minini

Posted in Reviews by matteoconsonni on October 20, 2009
Dictionary, Installation View

Dictionary, Installation View

Milan is quite a strange place for contemporary art: its efforts to become more and more internationally renowed for something else from fashion are intermittent, and the presence of an interesting circuit of commercial galleries and of a challenging and ever-growing gathering of non-profit spaces under the common name of ViaFarini, contrasts with the absolute absence of an important art fair and, moreover, of an important institution, a contemporary art museum worth this name.

This situation may be one of the causes that brings more and more curators in the commercial galleries, being this only a marketing strategy or a responsible decision: Sara Cosulich Canarutto has taken over the entire program of the new and objectionable Cardi Black Box, Andrea Bruciati will  curate in November a show for the gallery 1000eventi, just to give two recent examples, and Maurizio Bortolotti is currently curating a series of shows called Insight Turkey for Francesca Minini.

Kutlug Ataman’s exhibition is the second of the series, and its title, Dictionary, reflects the interest of the artists in analyzing in this corpus of works the processes of translation, ideas-sharing, knowledge-transmission and, more in general, the struggle of every human being for communication and its relation to the globalized world.

As entering the space, what seems to be at a first glance one single installation is presented: in reality, the first room hosts two works: on the front wall, the animation Mesopotamian dramaturgies/The Complete Work of William Shakespeare transforms the entire transcription of the well-known English writer into a new, inaccessible code. The text is hand-written and shown at a high speed, making the viewer unable to read it, and to understand the big amount of work needed to write it down. The only possibility left is to experience it as a new, visual code, an abstract image. The relativity of language and its possibility of becoming an abstract presence are mirrored in the second work presented on both the side walls, English as a Second Language, where two young Turks are asked to read Edward Lear’s Nonsense Rhymes aloud. The nonsense content of the writing is not even approached by the two boys that, not knowing English, tend to transform the language in a succession of letters: a scattered singsong, where every letter from English is transformed into Turkish sounds. Language and visual habits are strong components of each one’s identity, and the artist’s aim is to play with them, to reveal the constant struggle between tradition and globalization. The universality of the English language is just based on a common need and a convenient habit but obviously lacks in being universal in the translation of everyone’s experience.

Language as a scheme then, a frame that keeps people together, with the use of different angles; the third work on show, Mesopotamian Dramaturgies/Frame tries to uncover the importance of different visual habits: the lightbox contains a photograph taken at the beginning of the 20th Century. The photograph was at the time a symbol for modernity, and it is evident how the malleability of the medium permits a certain visual tradition to take over; the group of soldiers is being portrayed in a very strong hierarchical configuration, and the camera shots the photograph from a very low angle, translating the byzantin visual tradition into a photograph. The lightbox itself plays with this idea, completing it with a gold layer.

In the second room, a very straightforward and, for this reason, not very interesting conclusion to the show is offered by the video installation Strange Space, where the artist is filmed walking in the desert, blindfolded. The press release of the show presents it as a metaphor for incommunicability and a “prophecy of what modern life will be in a globalized world”. A bit of an easy and negative conclusion, that doesn’t analyze in depth the interesting themes brought by the previous selection of works.

Is this result to be attributed to an excessive research for curatorial clarity, and a  strong adeherence to the main theme? Sometimes user-friendliness can be tempting but reductive.

Anne Hardy at Maureen Paley

Posted in Reviews by mollybretton on October 20, 2009

Prime, 2009

At the centre of ‘Prime’, a small wood carving of an antelope stands surveying the surrounding landscape – a cluttered collection of metal propellers, bundled cardboard firework shells, shredded paper and coils of metal wire.  Two sky-lights illuminate the wooden shack; foil and paper wedge the roughly hewn gaps between the planked walls.  A large pile of sawdust rises from the worktop ledge, a spattering of stray darts pepper it’s surface.  With closer inspection this mound transforms into a miniature, contested landscape when we notice the English and American flags printed on each of the darts tails.  Initial thoughts of this being a space of recreational tinkering fade in the presence of these politically suggestive objects.

Intense and cryptic the six large-scale photographs that combine to create this exhibition are the photographic equivalent to a fiction novel’s opening paragraphs.  Imaginatively and methodically Anne Hardy sets the scene, introducing us to our new surroundings but unlike in most novels Hardy does everything but introduce us to the main protagonist.  This absence of human presence is the real intrigue of her works, as we pick through the densely populated settings to try and build an accurate imagining of who the inhabitant of these spaces may be.  Left only with the detritus of objects abandoned mid-stream, each item seems a witness, pregnant with information of previous human activity.

In the photograph ‘Unity’ cold light falls in shafts onto sheets of red plastic that cover a semi-circle of partitioned booths.  Like a stage, the floor shows white tape that would seem to indicate the absence of other frequently used props in this scene.  Images of eyes printed onto red circular stickers dot the roughly textured black walls. Trails of limp, black bunting hang from the ceiling along with gold metal chains that emphasise the room’s tapered wig-wam shaped structure.  There is a touch of sci-fi about the setting and there is also a hint at influences of religious architecture as our eyes are encouraged ever heavenward back to the top of the building.

Meticulously created in her studio these sets call to mind the pedantic photographic processes of Thomas Demand.  However, despite traces of the familiar in some of the architecture and objects Hardy depicts, unlike Demand’s work, everything about these photographs is a construct, a fiction. In rendering these spaces, we imagine that Hardy embodies a process similar to that of a Method actor and in trying to conjure these missing fictional characters we find the boundaries between artist and imaginary inhabitant blur.

The disconnection between the three-dimensional nature of the sculptural set and the rendered two-dimensionality of the final photograph encourages a mental leap for the viewer.  The original sculpture is dematerialized and rendered as a conceptual construct since we are never allowed to experience it in any other manner than that which the artist has dictated.  It is the controlled intention behind each detail of Hardy’s photographs that is the real content of these works.  All that we see is under the absolute control of the artist.  At issue here is the value that one gives to the detail Roland Barthes referred to as the punctum, an absorbing detail unplanned by the artist and entirely personal to the viewer.  Such a detail is deliberately denied a place in these works, where Hardy saturates each photograph with intention in every detail.  Although our immediate impressions of these images spark intrigue and fire imagination, Hardy paints the scene with such precision that we are left excluded not knowing what part we have to play in this game of make-believe.

Unity, 2009

Anne Hardy at Maureen Paley from 9 October – 22 November 2009

http://www.maureenpaley.com/

John Wesley: Retrospective 2009

Posted in Reviews by ericashiozaki on October 19, 2009

John Wesley Retrospective Exhibition at the Fondazione Prada, Venice Biennale 2009

Curated by Germano Celant

06.06.09 – 04.10.09

80'sworkinstallatioinview

Photo credit: Fondazione Prada

Art historically speaking, John Wesley’s work sits on a rather precarious position, belonging to no place but every place at the same time.  In the past, it had been remarked as pop art; later associated with minimalism through Donald Judd, with visible traces of surrealism and dada, along side the detachment of Renee Magritte, while Amazon.com labels him as an illustrator.  His visual language is broad, enticing, tactful and complex, with obscure and humorous subject matters that seemed to be at once wild, yet restrained, with a faint touch of misery and elegance.

wesley2installation

Photo Credit: Fondazione Prada

The retrospective exhibition at Fondazione Prada (Venice Biennale), highlights Wesley’s obsessive use of colours, his repetitive application of similar or same shapes, figures and characters, that are boldly painted on medium sized canvases, dispersed across the grand venue.  His carefully constructed compositions and contents are often accompanied by a very simple subject matter, added with a few figures or elements, as if each painting is a single segment/moment of a life-long saga.  When hung together, these segments adjoin and correspond to one another, and walking through the room is an experience close to that of flicking through a mass of un-collated and unorganized family photos.  They may not carry a cohesive story line or a linear narrative, but the recognizable colours and fictional characters carry a sense of story telling, and an undisturbed musical rhythm which one becomes in synch with. His paintings are aligned with movement and rhythm, and ones’ eyes dynamically follow the two-dimensional planes, hung at alternating heights and positions. Furthermore, the lack of depth on Wesley’s flat surfaces vanish any possibilities of his paintings becoming virtual ‘windows’ to another world, but remain merely as meticulously positioned images, that have the flexibility to be placed on top of each other, without being reduced to a salon style hanging. Although the paintings respond and react against each other, they still retain the ability to stand independently, without being engulfed by adjacent paintings.  His strong outlines and white frames contain the composition within, creating a threshold of us and them, real and surreal; producing the agility to mix, yet not melt or drown into their own surroundings. A point of reference can be taken from the paintings hung in corridors that adjoin the exhibition rooms.

wesley1insatllation

Photo Credit: Fondazione Prada

To address its historical linearity of the retrospective, black corridors are used as a curatorial partition, as well as a transition stage, dividing each room within the concatenation.  The narrow hallways are decorated with bright texts on top of charcoal black walls, where Wesley’s canvases are exposed.  Here, the curator of the exhibition Germano Celant had cleverly distinguished demarcation points from the rest of the exhibition for a smooth and expected transitioning, rather than achieving an elusive and empty space, which carelessly and breathlessly unites all rooms.

In his catalogue essay, Celant confirms the negation of Abstract Expressionism in Wesley’s work, and this exhibition beckons to ask what the term indicates, in relation to Wesley’s oeuvre. In my eyes Wesley’s paintings are not completely foreign to Abstract Expressionism, and qualities like indifference, impersonal or inhuman, seem to be antithetical to Wesley’s language.  In fact, I find his works incredibly ‘human’ and close, not distant.  By observing the contours of his subject very intimately, the residue of humanness, limitation of human activity, becomes apparent. This residue and ‘limitation’ I speak of is overtly abundant in his quivering black outlines, painted-over background, and his persistent study of the same colour for years and years.  These elements compel one to think and to rethink of Greenbergian ‘objectness’ and ‘abandonment of illusion’ through Abstract Expressionism, or even further, Michel Freid’s ‘Art and Objecthood, 1967.

*More images and information can be found on Fondazione Prada Website: http://www.fondazioneprada.org

Winds of Change: MoMA Under Ann Temkin

Posted in Reviews by bridgetdonlon on October 13, 2009

Installation view, Measuring the Universe, Roman Ondák, 2009. Photo by Bridget DonlonThe Museum of Modern Art has an ongoing struggle with itself to remain at the forefront of artistic production despite the commitment it has to the preservation and celebration of Modern Art History. As the museum comes under a new stewardship in Ann Temkin, we begin to sense palpable change in the course MoMA wants to set for itself.

Waste Not, an installation in the atrium by Song Dong, Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, Roman Ondák’s interactive performative work Measuring the Universe and Looking at Music: Side 2 are four separate exhibitions that combined this past season to present a fairly even overview of contemporary art. The atrium installation led viewers halfway through the work before entering the contemporary galleries where the drawing exhibition was on view. From there it was through the Ondák performance, into the music exhibition then back out into the second half of the Song Dong installation.

Is it fair to say that this grouping of exhibitions is Ann Temkin’s vision of a contemporary future for MoMA? Each component was curated by an in-house curator – Barbara London for Song Dong and Looking at Music, Klaus Biesenbach for Roman Ondák, and Christian Rattemeyer with Cornelia Butler for the drawings exhibition. Temkin remains the chief curator however, and we must (must we?) give her credit for the overall presentation and selection of shows on view. Use of the same atrium space under John Elderfield has previously showcased paintings by post-war masters Philip Guston and Cy Twombly, the contemporary galleries displaying veritable ‘greatest hits’ of the 1960s through 1990s, not pushing boundaries in any evident way.

(more…)

Inside the Banksy versus Bristol Museum

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on October 7, 2009

There are two significant notices at the entrance of the exhibition, when you ‘finally’ enter the museum. One indicates that the exhibition is organised by an independent agency to work with Banksy, and the museum staff have had no form of contact with him. The other one says that ‘please notice some of the exhibited works are not genuine.’ These two notices are like the introduction of the exhibition showing you the interesting relationship between ‘Banksy’ and ‘Bristol Museum.’

As if entering a hilarious playing ground, there are an ice ream van, which is the Information, and ironical statues in the hall welcoming visitors. Looking at ‘David the suicidal bomber’ who is facing the ‘police on the electrical hobbyhorse,’ people seem cannot stop smiling. Then, you enter a room exhibits the Art of Banksy. It is like a Banksy blockbuster including his famous stenciling graffiti, oil paintings, sculptures and multi-media installations. After this dazzling room, you find yourself in a freak show. This hall exhibits the Unnatural History, which is written on the flyer, and in these big or small cages and glass boxes, indeed showing us the unnatural history. There are some complex expressions on visitors’ faces. They probably feel funny yet sad at the same time while looking at a tree of CCTV cameras, hams and sausages crawling in ecological boxes as if in a science museum, and Tesco frozen fish fingers swimming in the fish bowl.

There are 60% of the exhibited works are new and commissioned to this show, and works are all over the museum. People take the flyer as a map and start to play ‘hide and seek,’ trying to identify and locate those ‘genuine’ Banksy’s works. Some are easy to be recognized, a boat rolling out of the frame or a lady taking her rest for a cigarette in the harvest. All these appropriated paintings are written ‘unknown artist’ on labels. As for other placement-works, it is like a treasure hunting that always brings you a great pleasure, such as discovering the delicate ceramic dancing girl with a gas mask amongst the Boring Old Plates, a penis in a minerals cave or Banksy’s Anarchist rat sneaking in the Eastern Art.

The flyer is not only part of the show but also plays an important role to connect visitors, Banksy and the Museum, which can be seen as Banksy’s strategy to lead visitors having a complete tour around the museum. It might be, again, a kind of joke that Banksy tries to make about how people wander in the museum to look for his works rather than watch the original exhibited works. Anyhow, Banksy versus Bristol Museum is already a triumph to both Banksy and the Museum and leaves us a summer memory of ‘stolen art[1]’ in Bristol.

Time: June 13th – August 31st 2009

Venue: Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Queen’s Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL

Website: www.bristol.gov.uk/museums


[1] From one of the exhibited work, a stela with carved inscription “The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal. Banksy.”

Outside the Banksy versus Bristol Museum

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on October 7, 2009

Banksy v Museum/ 3hr 30min wait/ LAST ENTRY 4.30pm

Printed A4 notices are written different approximately waiting time at different locations alongside the long queue for Banksy versus Bristol Museum.  Neither these notices nor museum staffs who keep telling people about how possibly they will not be able to enter the museum can stop them from queuing. This is the last week of this over two months exhibition, and is also the peak of the general waiting hour of the queue.

While waiting, people talk and make jokes about Banksy’s secrecy and the phenomenon of this exhibition. They speak about seeing those famous graffiti in the street of Bristol, and, at the same time, also busy take pictures of some fresh paints outside of the museum.

Free Admission is probably one reason for having such a huge visitor number of this show (over 300,000 marks, which is the annual number of the museum). Whether the free enter policy is decided by Banksy or the museum, this strategy indeed keeps Banksy’s idea of his street art. However, I wonder how he thinks about that visitors have to wait over three hours to see the exhibition due to the limited space in the museum. Would that be somehow contradicted to his concept of art?

Looking at people in the queue and reading the news about the number of the visitors, also about the amount of the income of the museum shop and how this exhibition ‘boost to Bristol’s economy,’ I realise that the strategy of this exhibition has succeeded even before entering the real show. This exhibition takes place at Bristol Museum. From one aspect, this can be seen as Banksy responding to his background; from the other aspect, this is like sending his regards to this city, which has abundant graffiti. However, visitors come and queue to see what and how Banksy’s art ‘in’ a museum, just like other ‘big’ museum feature exhibitions. They want to know what and how he ‘deals with’ this ‘City museum and Art Gallery.’ Isn’t it exactly Banksy’s ironic way of art practice? People come and almost crazily spend time waiting to see his works in a museum but are not really that attracted by the profuse street art in city streets. The City Museum and Art Gallery has never had such great visiting numbers apart from this collaboration with a street artist. This time, because of the massive queue, barriers are not only walls of the institution, but are also built outside the wall, between people and people. Banksy probably just stays in the ice cream van, which is amongst the queue, watching and mocking at this passionate queuing show.

No matter falling into Banksy’s trap or not, the reality is, once stepping in the queue, you wouldn’t give up. After all, if this is really the one reason visiting Bristol, you will not want to miss the opportunity to participate or accomplish Banksy’s act, will you?

Time: June 13th – August 31st 2009

Venue: Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Queen’s Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL

Website: www.bristol.gov.uk/museums

The Actuality of the Idea

Posted in Reviews by bridgetdonlon on May 19, 2009
Installation view, via www.modernart.net

Installation view, via http://www.modernart.net

The recent group exhibition at Stuart Shave/Modern Art breathed some new life into Minimalism. The show disperses works by old standards among mid-career and younger artists. The exhibition’s title – The Actuality of the Idea – is the type of Hegel-referencin’, po-mo jargon hip phrase common to so many contemporary art show titles, but when broken down into layman’s terms describes exactly what is on view at Modern Art: the idea of Minimalism described visually. (more…)

Tagged with: ,