16 Feb


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?

“Pushing the desecration even further, Langohr uses the tricks of the shooting and fashion photography to impose all the glory and the celebrity of the current models and stars on the saints, which were sculpted in 1640 by Jérémie Geisselbrunn and intended for the Church of the Friar Minors in Cologne. Today they stand on the pillars of the Saint-Nicholas church in Eupen. These are the icons of the Fathers and the Apostles – frozen in this unexpected second (of) eternity. The casting is truly singular.”

We all commit typos and proofreading errors occasionally, but pretentious art texts seem to contain a disproportionate number of grammatical blunders like “tricks of the shooting.” Maybe in this case they missed it because there are so many repetitions of “the” in one sentence (nine). It’s almost as if the writers are more interested in seeming clever than being good at what they do; in this case writing. It would be a shame if this was reflected in the practice of contemporary art itself, so that many artists have adopted seeming clever as the core purpose of their practice… oh, wait… Sorry. This is exactly the case. Carry on without me. I’ll be over in the corner, sobbing.

By the way, what casting– or the casting of what– is truly singular, and why?

“Jacques Charlier has also been exploring the fake ideal of the transubstantiation for quite some time, observing the theologies of art and the objet d’art which is seen as redeeming. The latter is appropriated by the market which, as the artist says, is capable of transforming the slightest draft into a transfigured object, under the strategic gaze of a global curie. From Leda to the twins of the Doublure du Monde, from Saint Rita, the patron of lost and impossible causes – of which art wouldn’t be the least – to Melusine or Morgan, art is a disenchanted physical reflection, the sign that the present could be followed by the past, an anguish that is generated by melancholy. The image of Saint Rita, the turmoil, much more than that of Marilyn or Tina Turner, he argues. As a last resort facing a society in disarray, Sergio Bonati adds, it is this Saint-Sulpice inspired image that Jacques Charlier often ironically evokes, referring to an increasingly instrumentalized art market and history. Coming back to certain forms of devotion, could art thus be a sort of ex-voto?”

Six (or more) questions arising from this paragraph:

  1. Fake according to whose ideal?
  2. Who sees objets d’art as redeeming, how, why, and why is this relevant to anybody?
  3. The latter what is appropriated by the market? The latter redemption? The objet d’art? The theology of art? The fake ideal of the transubstantiation?
  4. If “strategic gaze of a global curie” is anything but fridge magnet poetry, could you possibly explain what it is? And if the explanation is clearer than the original phrase, then maybe you should just use the explanation on its own?
  5. Oh-oh, what’s Tina Turner, what’s Tina Turner got to do with it?
  6. Should we know who Sergio Bonati is?

One answer arising from the final sentence of this paragraph:

  1. No.


  1. Alistair 02/04/2015 at 12:47 AM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: