A new nadir of art world bullshit has been achieved. An informant who shall remain nameless sent on this invitation (quoted below in blue) to the private view of a new exhibition at Glasgow’s Sorcha Dallas gallery. My annotations are in black. The informant sought my guidance and wondered what any of it might mean. I don’t blame them for being confused and possibly even fearing the onset of some quasi-dyslexic neurological disorder or senile dementia. “Am I losing my mind?” one might think. “Am I losing the ability to read? Will I soon be unable to see any text as anything but an incomprehensible non sequitur jumble full of phrases that are grammatically and lexically correct yet meaningless?” Fear not, readers, a small chunk of your brain didn’t just die: I don’t understand the majority of what’s written here and the person who wrote it definitely doesn’t. Whether it was the artist or somebody at the gallery, whoever wrote the text below should be ashamed of themselves if English is their first, second, third or fourth language.
“Sorcha Dallas is pleased to announce the second show in the gallery by the Glasgow-based artist Rob Churm. This exhibition brings together new drawings and etchings with Churm’s first wall drawing in situ. The exhibition title, ‘The Exhaustion Hook’, means exactly what the words say, an instance of collapse to an oblique point of fact, a known feeling. Churm explains further, “The hook looks like a lemniscate but it feels like a ball bearing.” It is in the gap between these understandings and their relentless riffing, where Churm’s drawings take shape and its narratives unfold.”
Churm explains even further: “I talk like an 18th century dictionary but I sound like a pretentious bollock.” An unknown feeling is by definition not known, therefore only the feelings we have experienced and recognised can be known. In other words, saying “a known feeling” is both tautological and stupid. What’s an “oblique point of fact”? How can a fact be oblique? Does it make sense to anybody if I say that a rumour is parallel, or a story is in? How does one “relentlessly riff” on an understanding? Riffing on which understandings, anyway? No understandings or subjects amenable to understanding have been presented to us.
“Churm’s new etchings consider the antiquated quality of the medium and explore the archaic representation of death, angels and dragons. ‘Fugitive from Conjecture (after Aylett)’, for example, is a large etching of Prame (an alter ego which dates back to the artist’s zine comics The Thirteen Flashbacks of Prame and My Visions) crossing the Styx in a novelty canoe. The long arm of Death clutches a scythe with no blade so that the vast open sky is revealed, tranquil, yet ominous.”
Translation: Rob Churm has the imagination of a twelve year old boy and he likes drawing skulls and dragons.
“The wall drawing in Gallery No 9 will be a new work, which will be improvised within the gallery confines. Using the familiar materials of Tipp-Ex, Biro and pen that are found in Churm’s works on paper, this new wall drawing’s composition will be created entirely in situ so that the work contains all the drips and incidental marks that point to the execution of a creative act.”
I’m so glad that the “drips and incidental marks” prove that this art is proper art. Take that, artists who can draw or paint without getting Tipp-Ex and Biro ink everywhere! Your work is not a creative act, apparently. Tipp-Ex and Biro are the media of the true artist and the twelve year old boy drawing on his school bag when he’s bored in English lessons. In English as spoken in the British Isles, a Biro is any ballpoint pen, so saying “Biro and pen” is another redundancy unless the pen in question is a fountain pen with a metal nib, not that anybody really gives a shit how Rob draws the grim reaper flying on his dragon or whatever. I wish they’d stop saying “in situ” because nobody thinks it’s clever and by now we all know that whoever wrote this barely understands English, let alone Latin.
“In the past Churm’s drawings often filled the page, layered and extending over the edge. However in this new and ongoing series entitled ‘Wyrd Gels’ the images appear all background, illusory fields reminiscent of Bridget Riley and the repetitive nature of William Morris swatches, but also suggesting coloured filters, or ‘gels’, used in lighting directions.”
Really? You’re going to compare this stuff to the work of Bridget Riley and William Morris? Another example of that art historical fig leaf I often draw attention to, slapped over everything indiscriminately in an attempt to legitimise and monetise contemporary art (good, bad or indifferent) by saying “don’t worry, it’s safe, it’s not really anything new, it’s like Bridget Riley…”
“Churm was born in Epping Forest in 1979 and graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Glasgow School of Art in 2001…”
Boring biography and exhibition list continues for a long paragraph that nobody in their right mind will ever bother reading and Sorcha Dallas knows it, but it makes his work look popular and in demand. Poor wee Robert was born in a forest. Perhaps he was raised by wolves; he’s like Tarzan or Mowgli and came late to human language and culture and drawing in Biro and Tipp-Ex like a twelve year old boy.
How can we explain such a compendium of random, asinine drivel being sent out as publicity material to people who can be presumed to have a fairly sophisticated grasp of the English language? I don’t know.
Aphasia following some kind of concussion, stroke, head injury, huge pulsating brain tumour, failed brain surgery, trepanation?
The notoriously annoying and inaccurate iPhone autocorrect used for 90% of the text, which was typed without looking by somebody with extremely fat fingers?
Translated by Google from English, into an unrelated language, then back into English? I experimented with Google Translate and I was able to approximate the style of the Rob Churm text eviscerated above: “Onto explore, to alienated and non-famed peoples ‘Timeul Doeji Aktyons’ is the tit lead of the exhibition explores the historical amnesia,” but only after I auto-translated from English through Yiddish, Swahili and Korean, then back again. It took that amount of effort for what I originally wrote to even vaguely resemble what those piss-taking fuckwits are sending out as publicity.
In my ideal world, this exhibition and text would be merely a conceptual joke, albeit not a very funny joke. Rob Churm would not exist and the whole thing would be a satire on the art world. It wouldn’t explain away all the other art world nonsense that I know is for real, but please Universe, please let this exhibition and artist be a figment of somebody’s imagination.