ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE S3E2: INSTRUMENTALIZED

16 Feb

thunderdome

Dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism. All real, all serious, all horribly written. I apologise in advance for any foreign or jargon words that I accidentally pronounced correctly. This time, two artists in a Belgian “overall installation” that seems to be about interfering with virgins. You can play along with your Artbollocks Bingo card, and you can watch more Artbollocks Theatre here on the blog or on my Vimeo channel.

“From the stock of a museum, Sophie Langohr unearthed fifteen statues of the Virgin Mary in the Saint-Sulpice style, which today represent the purest form of religious knick-knack and the beginnings of a semi-industrial art. The artist confronts the outmoded faces with the ones found on the internet of the current muses that incarnate the big brands of the luxury industry.
 As diptychs, these transfigurations give us the consummate illusion of a particularly dreaded cinema-photo-digital aesthetics.”

Yes… but why did she do it? This information is totally absent, and it is perhaps the most cogent thing we might like to know before we’ve seen the work, or if not cogent then at least it’s the aspect that might allow us to decide whether what the artist has done actually has any purpose or merit. How odd that we’re specifically denied the option of doing so. HASHTAG SARCASM. How does one confront faces? If this just means “putting them next to one other”, then just say so.  What is “cinema-photo-digital aesthetics”, why is it “particularly dreaded” and by whom?

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ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE 3: SUPER COP

2 Feb

ABT3_Copper

S3E1: CONTEMPLATIVE

Yes, it’s back. Even more dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism, this time with a police show-on-VHS-tape twist. Watch new arty farty perps and syntax villains brought to justice every two weeks or so. In this episode, we learn how it’s possible to write four paragraphs and nearly four hundred words about a man who built some walls. But wait… he built some walls in an art gallery that already had walls. Is your mind completely blown?

You can play along with your Artbollocks Bingo card, and you can watch more Artbollocks Theatre here on the blog or on my Vimeo channel. I tried really hard to mispronounce all the foreign words and jargon, but I think I still accidentally said some of them correctly. Sorry about that.

Presented at ISE Cultural Foundation, the site-specific installation Time Would Not Diminish Their Strength But Add Wisdom To It explores the sculptural potential of space by diverting one of its main components.

Are you going to tell us what the main components of space are, then? Or which particular component is being diverted? No? Probably because you can’t, given that space is an abstract mass or count noun. Space doesn’t have components because space is defined by what it’s not and what is not in it rather than being a thing in itself. I know it’s complicated, but if you’re a curator in the business of justifying the unjustifiable, or a po-faced conceptual artist, don’t you think it’s particularly important that you bring all of your intellect (such as it is) to bear during any discussion of complex concepts, instead of just leaving the frayed edges of half-finished thoughts to dangle?

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ARTIST TO CHRISTIE’S: C U NEXT TUESDAY, SUPPORTERS

27 Jan

Batman89Vandalism

In this short post by Jerry Saltz, we learn that the artist Wade Guyton not only printed multiple, identical, indistinguishable copies of a “unique” work that was to be auctioned at Christie’s for between $2.5 and $3.5 million, possibly more, but he also showed off the results of his labours on Instagram in what could be interpreted as an attempt to taint the sale.

Furthermore:

  • The auction has been given the horrible title If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday (from one of the works for sale) as if it were an exhibition and not a cattle market.
  • The “original” inkjet print was made from a digital file in the first place and therefore could be replicated perfectly at any time, in any numbers.
  • Christie’s are putting a brave face on it, but apparently they’re getting a bit scared that artists from within the system are kicking back against the sickening, high fructose corn syrup unreality of an international art auction industry that’s still in hysterical denial about an era where even capital-A Art can be infinitely replicable.
  • Christie’s delusionally think they have, or are brazenly claiming to have, a “gritty and underbelly-esq” [sic] side. With this level of embarassing neediness and such a tin ear for credible language it’s no wonder they chose to convey their grit with a promotional video of a skateboarder carrying on some edgy but unthreatening video speed-ramped shenanigans in the hip, street and far out daddio underbelly of Christie’s, alongside some gritty multimillion dollar art by off-the-hook, mad, bad and dangerous to know young bucks like Peter Doig. It’s a bit like a music video for a very minor hit by some hack alt-rock band from the mid 1990s. The Youth is into skateboarding, right? LOL, as I’ve seen the kids write on the interwebzone. I can’t embed the video, but you can watch it here if you want a good laugh/cringe. Christie’s posturing as edgy or in touch with contemporary culture is like an elephant trying to squeeze into your house for a casual breakfast with you.

IT CAN BE DONE

26 Jan
VoH2

“I… I… can understand this wall text.”

“It” being to write about art without tediously reciting what the art is made of, what the art looks like and what we supposedly feel about the art, and using plain English without resorting to pretentious, empty language. Thank Karen Archey for this rare example of a non-bollocks art press release, related to an exhibition in Stockholm.

Curatron #5 release

All artworks in this exhibition deal with the body, its removals, artificiality, and ineffability. Lost limbs, artificial hormones, forgotten cultures, made-up people, dead celebrities. Since when is it so hard to get real in this world? I wake up and feel invisible. I work and feel invisible. I eat, shit, and sleep invisible. It’s 2015 and we’ve regressed so far that identity politics feel new again.

What will make our shadows stick?

I’ve noticed a lot of artists who grasp anything in sight and describe and smother it with words, as if blind. Like babies who mull over the world in their mouth because their sight is too abstract. This impulse to smother reminds me of Pompeii’s last afternoon. As Vesuvius erupted, the most boring shit was cast pristine in ash to pick, prod and hold for centuries to come. Everything also died. Ask your favorite archeologist: was it worth it?

What is an exhibition but a body—a sum totaling more than its parts? If I give you five fingers and a press release, will it make a hand? I want an exhibition that totals less than its parts that detracts from what we already know. I want to go deep, toward death; figure out why we all feel so fucking invisible and fuck phantom soulmates. No words.

In contrast to all the bad writing I cover here, there’s relatively little commentary required on this one. Regardless of whether this piece of writing’s tone or voice is to your taste, it’s personal and it undeniably has character. It is evocative and non-literal about its subject. Note especially that she’s talking about the theme of the exhibition without ever short-circuiting (or assuming) the reader’s need or desire to see the exhibition itself. If one can’t trust the art to communicate with the public then the art probably shouldn’t be shown. A critical or review text’s legitimate, productive roles do not include excusing or handwaving an artist’s failure to connect and communicate. It’s also not very much to ask of a writer that they too communicate in clear, honest and meaningful language instead of fridge magnet poetry or random jargon strings, but many don’t. Archey does. Good for her.

I like her observation about many artists grabbing everything in sight and smothering it with words. I agree, and I think in many cases they do it because they’re plain old charlatans whose artistic, imaginative or aesthetic abilities are so limited that they have no alternative. There are now several generations of artists and curators who’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that it doesn’t matter how hollow or slight your work might be if you can armour plate it (or better still, have it armour plated by a curator or art academic) in a solid wall of baffling International Art English.

“A TEXTUAL PALIMPSEST”

21 Jan

1042413421

A recent press release (from repeat offenders Empty Cube in Lisbon) is too short to be worth bothering with for an Artbollocks Theatre reading but rest assured that is, nonetheless, total bollocks. Doing it would also make them the first art gallery featured twice. I guarantee that the long-promised third series of Artbollocks Theatre is coming very soon, by the way. I haven’t done it yet because either:

a) A powerful conspiracy of evil art world figures is doing everything they can to fight my message.

b) I’ve been too lazy and haven’t made the time to do it.

Decide for yourself which seems more likely, but if you’ll permit me to give you a clue I would tend towards a). Search your heart.

“The work consists of a mass of archive materials, specifically gathered by the artist himself for this ephemeral project…”

By the artist himself? Fuck me sideways with a plinth, what dedication. Nobody ever gathered their own materials before. The accompanying image (below) seems to confirm that, yeah… it’s just a bunch of papers in box files. Cross off (NORMAL THING) IS AMAZING BECAUSE ARTIST DID IT on your Artbollocks Bingo card! What a pity all the millions of office workers who’ve had to drudge away typing, printing or photocopying things, putting pieces of paper in folders and then taking them out again and then putting them in an envelope or back into another folder, ad nauseum, never realised they were actually making an ephemeral art project.

NNF_e-artnow

What most of us call “putting some papers in box files” is what they call

“…collecting and archiving a variety of elements that highlight and reconnect histories and stories, as well as the apparent affinities and relations of various references; in his work, the archive acts as a conceptual sub-structure that confronts us with our perennial and irreversible condition, in which memory is made to reconcile with the precise reconstruction of its fragmented legacy.”

Entendeu? Bom.

Nuno Nunes Ferreira explores this model exponentially by amassing a bibliographic archive that covers a whole year and is continuously dissected until the last second of that same year, whose reference in time is the exact day of the project’s presentation at EMPTY CUBE: January 23, 2015. The work’s metrics condenses temporality, juxtaposing it to a textual palimpsest that possesses a clockwork-like quality. Indeed, it is as if these texts were the face of a clock, on which we can constantly pinpoint time via the tangible possibility of recognizing the referential moment of a particular second in the sequence of the next movement.

There are so many questionable phrases in this paragraph that instead of repeating them I’ve just underlined them all with increasing despair, like a teacher or the Paperclip Man in old versions of MS Word.

1) Unless you mean that the paperwork is increasing proportionally to its current dimensions or extent, then you don’t mean exponentially. An example of an archive growing exponentially would be if every item of paperwork gave rise to two or more items of paperwork, each of which in turn gave rise to two or more items of paperwork, and so forth. I doubt this is happening. One also cannot amass something while simultaneously dissecting it, i.e. taking it apart to determine its internal structure. What amassed would be scattered and disassociated fragments of your archive, not necessarily the archive itself.

2) What are the work’s metrics? How does one condense temporality? Is it like condensed milk, sort of not really milk and not very nice? How does one juxtapose condensed temporality with a clockwork textual palimpsest? A palimpsest is something written or drawn over visible traces of previous material, so specifying that it’s textual is fine if we can stomach use of a word like palimpsest outside its sensible original context of medieval illuminated manuscripts. But how is it like clockwork? Is this all just a fancy way of saying that the artist is writing or doodling on old files?

3) As for “pinpointing”, “referential moment” and all that jazz… I genuinely don’t know how to process this as a meaningful sentence. It’s just aphasia or word salad; syntactically correct English but completely devoid of sense.

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