Tag Archives: art exhibition

SOUZOU: OUTSIDER ART FROM JAPAN

3 Apr

The Wellcome Trust, London, 28th March–30th June 2013

C0085418 Shoichi KOGA, "Seitenmodoki" (Ganesha Nan

Shoichi Koga, Seitenmodoki (Ganesha (Nandikeshvara)-oid), 2006.

Having seen this great exhibition of so-called Outsider Art– i.e. art by untrained people in care– I’m more convinced than ever that there’s either an absolutely massive number of respected contemporary artists running around with serious but undiagnosed mental illnesses and learning disabilities… or going to art school, having an MA or a PhD, knowing the right people in the art world, being shown in the “right” [sic] galleries, and being spoken of and approved of in high level critical discourses around contemporary art all signify absolutely bugger all about an artist’s talent or ability in most cases. Because there’s basically no difference between much of the work in Souzou and much of the work to be seen in contemporary art galleries and art fairs all over the developed world. Except possibly there’s a slight difference in the sense that some of the Outsider Art is much better because it completely lacks the cynicism, arid conceptualism, dated Modernist concerns, condescension and sneering pretensions of the Frieze brigade.

Some of the artists in Souzou don’t know, don’t care or perhaps even can’t comprehend how their work is received and understood outside of its original and intensely personal therapeutic context. It doesn’t effect in the slightest their ability to make art that connects with people; art that it beautiful, art that is well-crafted, art that in some way says something to us about our own lives, feelings and thoughts, art that expresses something of the artist’s soul for other people to share, art that is special and desirable enough for somebody to want it on their wall. Continue reading

ONE OF THESE IS ART: CHRIS MARKER / REDDIT CREEPSHOTS

19 Oct

CHRIS MARKER, SELECTED WORKS 1957-2011, LOUISE BLOUIN FOUNDATION, 9 OCTOBER–3 NOVEMBER 2012

Dozens of furtive, objectifying, fetishistic pictures taken of women in public places without their knowledge or consent apparently constitutes an art exhibition to some people. Except when they’re on Reddit in the currently super-controversial Creepshots (i.e. the place where men post furtive, objectifying, fetishistic pictures taken of women in public places without their knowledge or consent) in which case they’re just weird fapping material for a few, but exceedingly problematic and distasteful to nearly everybody else. I will again state my belief that not everything an artist does is necessarily art, even if they themselves claim it as such. I will also recommend not looking at the parts of Reddit where things like Creepshots– and far, far worse– are nurtured and validated.

This exhibition at Artinfo/Modern Painters oligarch Louise Blouin’s art space in west London– in the contemporary silo gallery style, and therefore consisting mostly of white paint, cavernous wasted space and the flinty eyes of sullen gallery maids peeping out above oppressively high white cuboids– was presumably in the pipeline long before Marker snuffed it earlier this year. But one can’t help thinking that Passengers (AKA Creepshots) being flagged as his last work possibly indicates that if he’d lived he might have had the sense to think again about showing work that could literally be printouts from Reddit, both in terms of subject matter and the (very low) quality of the images themselves. There’s also some truly horrible Photoshop work to be seen on the prints of images he took in North Korea in the 50s; pretty clearly, he didn’t ‘shop them during the Korean War, so again somebody seems to have been making bad decisions on behalf of an artist who’s obviously no longer in a position to police how his work gets shown.

I’m actually a huge, nerdily knowledgeable fan of Marker’s films and installations. Static pictures on walls seem almost irrelevant to any survey of his work. La Jetée, his most famous work, drives this point home. It’s made of still images, but it’s the montage and the journey through time diegetically and structurally that makes these still images work. As contextless still individual images, most of them have little relevance , interest or meaning. Obviously the mainstream art business is still for the most part about having things to hang on walls, even if the artist is primarily a film maker or a performer, and so film makers and performers who want to get on make token things to go on walls, and so other artists have to do the same, and so it goes on. This exhibition is absolutely dominated by still images, a perverse state of affairs for an artist who expressed himself most and best through moving ones. An installation plonked almost as an afterthought near the doorway gives a glimpse of the real Marker with intensely edited and exquisitely structured fragments from silent movies and old stock footage, but Blouin is apparently of the orthodox view that we don’t deserve seating or any other form of comfort to experience long-form video art.

Seriously, people, the room must be at least 20m x 20m. You have space for a few damn chairs.

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