ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE: BANAL

28 Mar

ArtBTheatreTitleMore dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism every week, except when I don’t do them every week. This week’s artist is doing a lot of boring stuff. ON. PURPOSE. My mind is blown.

Play Artbollocks Bingo!

Sofia Hultén (b. 1972 in Stockholm, lives in Berlin) delicately occupies herself in her videos, installations, sculptures and photographs with the wide variety of opportunities for action. By reconstructing or rearranging courses of events she explores in the process banal everyday procedures like eating an apple as well as the character and history of profane objects with little value like a worn piece of wood or an old toolbox she finds at construction or demolition sites. She hence regularly succeeds in breaking through conventional patterns of perception and tracing unknown dimensions in the everyday.

The second sentence is nearly fifty words long and completely unpunctuated. Try reading it aloud and making it sound interesting and informative. I failed, obviously. In fact I think I almost lost the will to live about halfway through that sentence. Punctuation: use it. As for “tracing unknown dimensions in the everyday”… seriously? How does one even trace an unknown dimension? This isn’t Ghostbusters, lady. Science-y handwaving about perception and unknown dimensions needs to stay in the script for Doctor Who, where it belongs.

I am undoubtedly mispronouncing this woman’s name and for that I apologise to any Swedes who might be reading. Look on the bright side though, dear Swedes, she lives in Berlin now. Not that the Germans deserve her, either. Of course she lives in Berlin. There’s no pretentious, overblown artist like a pretentious, overblown Berlin artist.


In Versions of Events (2011), for example, she plays out the different variants of occurrences alluded to in the title by altering the seemingly predictable causality of the course of events and in doing, triggers a chain reaction. But the actions that resulted in the six different sculptures that each consist of stockings, a gym shoe, a pin and a plastic bag remains just as ambiguous as the consequences they will have.

Artists usually just pile up old crap because they can’t be bothered to actually learn any form of craft or thoughtful practice. There’s only about seven trillion artists doing this kind of thing at the moment. A few of them even do it well and add something to the world, but we don’t need any more of them. The quota for this category is filled. Move on, do something else. The last artist I challenged about the hollowness and vapidity of this junk art aesthetic had a huge hissy fit and flounced off, although tellingly he flounced without ever coming anywhere near providing a cogent or convincing defense of it as a necessary or meaningful response to the world. Which is what art is supposed to be, FYI, Sophia. It’s not about you eating apples.

The last sentence is another grammatical mess. What remains just as ambiguous as what consequences? What is “they”? The actions? The sculptures? The objects of which the sculptures consist? The bad grammar here suggests that only the plastic bag remains ambiguous, except for that reference to the unknown “they”. How can a plastic bag be ambiguous or have a consequence? My head hurts.

In general, the objects in Sofia Hultén’s works appear as fragments from narrative larger context, similar to the momentary occurrences in a short story. At the same time, however, the varying plotlines indicate that things are not static and inflexible but are found instead in a continuum of time and space consisting of the past, present and future. By employing philosophical and physics texts in addition to Science Fiction literature for her subtle works, Hultén regularly poses the question ‘What if …’ again.

I frequently do misunderstand these terrible artist statements for comic effect, but in the case of “fragments from narrative larger context” I am genuinely baffled. It’s probably a typo or error and not a deliberate coinage of a phrase, but what would the correction be? Is there an apostrophe S missing from the end of “narrative”?  Should it be the narrative‘s larger context? In that case, what narrative? Whose narrative? Life’s too short to speculate further, so it suffices to say that your artist statement or press release shouldn’t leave anybody asking themselves if they just had a minor stroke in the part of their brain devoted to language processing.

I’d love to know where and when ground zero was for artists claiming they’re warping the fabric of time and space because their art is so powerful, because in this series of Artbollocks Theatre alone there have already been several perpetrators. It’s absolutely rife, and egregiously pretentious. “Wow, this artist has totally broken the spacetime continuum,” said nobody, ever.

PhysicsForDummiesWe’ve also got another case of an artist wrapping themselves in the language of philosophy and science– or allusions to science fiction– without any substantial knowledge, understanding or affection for any of these subjects. It’s just an International Art English affectation that gets pasted indiscriminately over any and all types of art and artists in the hope that people will be fooled into thinking they’re deep. In a few years it will be something else. Economics, perhaps. Mass market romance novels… I don’t know. All I know is that it will be something most of the artists who dabble in it don’t really understand and actually sneer at a little bit because they think they’re better and more vital than people who actually know anything about the subject. I’m also certain that screwing around with gym shoes and plastic bags has nothing to do with philosophy or physics.

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One Response to “ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE: BANAL”

  1. Alistair 16/04/2014 at 11:35 AM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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