Tag Archives: APPROVED

“PRETENTIOUS”, “ABSURD”, “ASTONISHING SELF-IMPORTANCE”

21 Jun

… THE FIRST HONEST TINO SEHGAL REVIEW EVER

Two shocking outbreaks of critique against the art world’s elite this week. By “shocking”, of course, I mean shocking that they actually got published at all. Artists and art people talk a million tons of shit about each other every single day in private, but not much of it ever comes out publicly. Except on this blog, obviously [LEERING TROLL FACE].

Firstly– though admittedly from the No Shit Sherlock Department– Pretentious Tino Sehgal Delivers Absurd Talk With Tina Brown to Baffled Bankers at Art Basel.* Pretentious, pompous Emperor’s New Clothes Tino Sehgal is pretentious, pompous and wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes. The story has no byline, but Artnet News helpfully provides this page, complete with mugshots, where you could try to work out who was responsible for dissing the non-performing performance artist with Homer Simpson’s hair and Marvin the Paranoid Android’s sense of humour. Regardless of who wrote it, when even those people accustomed to buttoning their lip and saying nothing if they can’t say anything nice think you’re so pretentious and full of “astonishing self-importance” that nobody could be offended by them saying so… you’re definitely one of the art world’s arseholes de les arseholes.

* The alliteration of Baffled Bankers made me think of Waffled Wankers. That is all, carry on.

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TINO SAYS:

“One of the biggest civilizational achievements of the West, apart from soap, is the convention of opening hours. There are two modalities on which you can organize people: appointments…and opening hours.”

Every single factual [sic] part of this paragraph is so far from being true or cogent that I would suspect he was trying to make some kind of provocative, trolling statement here, if I didn’t also suspect much more strongly that he genuinely thought this was a profound observation. “Civilizational” is not a word, nor should it be.

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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
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“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.

WELSH ARTBOLLOCKS

25 Sep

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See some of Artbollocks Theatre, series 2 at the Outcasting: Fourth Wall Festival of artists’ moving image work in Cardiff this October. Various dates from October 6th at Porter’s Bar Cinema, then at ATRiuM, University of South Wales from October 13th. Other screening programmes continue throughout the month at different venues, including Chapter. Launch on October 1st, 4-7pm. Even leaving myself aside (which is both hard to do and extremely foolish because I’m AMAZING) there are some great artists, commissions and films in this one. Anyone who doesn’t like it or doesn’t find it appealing is dead to me. YOU HEAR? Dead.

New art bollockers brought to justice soon in Artbollocks Theatre 3: Super Cop.

Also, bloody hell, how did it get to be October already?

THE PRIMAL SCENE OF FINE ART

8 Aug
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Clockwise from top left: “God in a bottle”, chimney sweep trade mannequin, soldier’s pincushion, boody (broken china) mosaic tray with doll, papier maché meat from a butcher shop, carved bone chicken.

Tate Britain’s British Folk Art exhibition (continues in London until 31 August 2014, then moves to Compton Verney in Warwickshire) is one of the most inspiring collections I’ve seen in this country recently. I dislike terms like “folk art” or “outsider art” because to me if they’re art then they’re just art, but I acknowledge that these terms can have their uses. This is a minor quibble anyway, in the context of a show that clearly celebrates and validates the umtrammeled creativity of ordinary people in an intelligent and unpatronising way that few of our large art institutions would even bother to try. Most of the objects come from the often sorely underappreciated museum collections in places like Beamish, Norwich, or Tunbridge Wells, which I hope will encourage more people to visit them. It becomes terrifyingly clear that the collective memory of society is very short and full of holes. For example, who knew that male soldiers dug needlework so much and were so good at it, even as recently as WWI? Where did all our dressed wells, Obby Osses and Gods in bottles go?

On the day I went there were a lot of delighted and interested people of all ages very vocally and visibly enjoying the items on display. How often does that happen in an art exhibition nowadays? Such a contrast to the arid I-don’t-even-know-if-it’s-conceptual-or-what of Phyllida Barlow in the hall right alongside British Folk Art. Barlow’s work always reminds me of my dad’s penchant for keeping old bits of wood, obsolete plumbing and old tarpaulins stacked up against the back of our house, just in case they were ever needed… which they never were. And they weren’t art, either. Criticising Barlow is apparently a no-no because she’s a professor and she probably taught a lot of artists and so nobody ever does. That good old art world omerta. I’ll assume she’s fine as a human being until I hear anything to the contrary, but I get absolutely nothing from her work, or from the work of her numerous imitators and fellow travellers. What is it saying? Is it saying anything? What am I supposed to think or feel here? I think and feel nothing in front of this work. Worse than nothing, actually, because on balance I’m slightly annoyed by it. I’d enjoy throwing it in a skip and seeing it hauled off by a lorry, but I’m into a good tidy up anyway and I wouldn’t credit Barlow for the pleasure.

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