12 Sep

Artists, stop it stop it STOP IT with the fucking old school film projectors; Emily Wardill, Gerard Byrne and others all seem to think that running their work through a clacking, grimy piece of obsolete AV equipment automatically gives it gravitas and the sheen of a proper art film. It doesn’t. I expect they go around disdainfully saying that they’ve never done anything digitally. Just give that shit a rest and think about learning how to really make a film instead of disguising your own limitations behind the limitations of old technology.

Byrne is also a black and white photography=SERIOUS merchant, as seen previously with Birdhead’s B&W prints of themselves getting liquored up then riding each other like horses and on numerous occasions elsewhere, in Shannon Ebner’s work, and Dayanita Singh’s, and so on ad nauseum. If your photos are boring and devoid of significance or beauty, doing them in monochrome and/or presenting them in an archaic format doesn’t magically make them interesting. I’d call this the Instagram Syndrome. Boring, banal or inept photography doesn’t magically become interesting because it’s grungy and having to jazz it up in this way probably indicates that it is boring, banal or inept and you know it.

Elisabetta Benassi, on the other hand, really grasps how to do technological nostalgia right if it must be done at all. Her gloomy installation of automated microfiche readers, apparently showing captions from old stock photos, puts technology in an ominous Orwellian (or Brazilian, as in Terry Gilliam’s film) context as the machines incessantly scan the microfiches without human intervention, stopping occasionally upon pieces of information that we as humans- pattern recognition machines ourselves- can hardly fail to see as significant in some way.

Since the captions are almost always minus the photos they belong to, moving through the installation allows you to see the weaving of a strange, unstable new metanarrative derived from all these damaged (or vandalised) fragments. Very evocative, but what it’s evoking is a time and a technological moment that never existed in reality. That’s the real magic. Benassi judges perfectly the balance between the romance of old things and the fact that living in the past was usually no better than the present: often much worse.


  1. satvicjashan1 10/02/2017 at 12:20 PM #

    ah! Its a disgrace how all this artists(more prominently Dayanita Singh) can get away with this mediocre work. Its nothing more than a grungy looking work without any excitement or even a feeling of presence, tranquility and respite. Looking at Van Gogh I have a response, but with all this mediocre work, the thought just rules the mind, ” All of this isn’t great” The ones who are loosing are the real, who actually are working hard towards making innovations in their way to interpret the visuals, I feel sorry for them.

    • Alistair 10/02/2017 at 1:33 PM #

      Although there definitely are artists who cynically and consistently deliver stupid, lazy work according to what they know will find favour, whatever one may personally feel about their practice I think most artists are just expressing quite sincerely whatever is on their mind.
      The blame lies much more with the excessively powerful curators who constantly choose the same few boring artists and the same tired (non) ideas instead of making any attempt to reflect the massive diversity of living artists and their art.

      • satvicjashan1 20/03/2017 at 5:35 PM #

        I agree with you; and artists can only overcome this by learning the game. You might have to give up your purity to actually rise to the top.



    […] been saying for years that old projectors and other modernist paraphernalia in art galleries are tropes, affectations, […]

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