Tag Archives: contemporary art

ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE S3E4: PREPOSTAPOCALYPTIC

27 Mar

OOO BONDAGE UP YOURS!

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. In this write up of an exhibition from France we’ve not only got OOOers [sic], but also “negative faith”, wax balls, and typos a go-go (underlined in red, as if I’m that paperclip fellow from MS Word.) Multiple typos and grammatical errors are always good in a press release or any other form of official communication, because they really convey professionalism.

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.

If you don’t know what Object Oriented Ontology is, then a quick look at Wikipedia is probably quite sufficient. If you do know what Object Oriented Ontology is and it’s (somehow) one of your influences alongside animism and “the theoretical reflections of the Nouveau Roman novelist, theorist and editor Alain Robbe-Grillet”, then I don’t know what to say except that you must be a riot at parties.

The Promise of Moving Things deals with the so-called life of objects in our current pre-post-apocalyptic paradigm.

“Pre-post-apocalyptic?” Does this guy know something the rest of us don’t?

Influenced in equal measure by animism, the much-discussed philosophical movement Object Oriented Ontology, the surrealism of Alberto Giacometti’s early masterpiece The Palace at 4 am (1932) and even the theoretical reflections of the Nouveau Roman novelist, theorist and editor Alain Robbe-Grillet (an OOOer, so to speak, well avant la lettre), The Promise of Moving Things seeks to address just that—the very idea that there exists some promise within objects in a world in which humans no longer roam the earth. Neither a critical rejection nor an endorsement of these ideas, the exhibition embraces the ambiguity at the very heart of the word promise. It questions to what extent this negative faith in the cultural and animistic legacy of objects is a genuine rupture with the anthropocentric tradition of humanism and to what extent it is merely a perpetuation of it.

“Just that”? Just what? There’s no obvious subject for this phrase, except for what somes afterwards, which is not a “that” yet because we don’t know what it is until we read on. The next sentence commits the same error; “these ideas”… which ideas? How does one have “negative faith”? “Lack of faith” makes sense and is easily understood. Negative faith suggests something akin to a bank overdraft or a balance sheet. Damn, my faith cheque bounced because I didn’t have enough faith in the bank.

Thus does the exhibition consist of works that features objects or processes which seem to possess some form of human subjectivity. For instance, the Austrian, Vienna-based artist Hans Schabus’s sprawling sculptural installation Konstruktion des Himmels (1994) could merely be a random collection of variously seized wax balls and an elaborate light fixture or the most human forms of celestial organization: a constellation (which it is: a recreation of Apparatus Sculptoris [Sculptor’s Studio], identified and named in the 18th century by Louis de Lacaille).

Please don’t seize my wax balls! The latter part of that sentence in particular is a grammatical car crash. There are, in fact only two sentences in the whole paragraph.

Almost, but not entirely by association, German, Berlin-based Mandla Reuter’s sculpture installation. The Agreement (Vienna) 2011, which has been paired with Schabus’s work and is comprised of an armoire hanging from the ceiling, assumes a quasi-, supernatural and animistic quality.

Quasi what? I think the intended meaning is probably quasi-supernatural– whatever the hell that means– but there’s a random comma in the way, and too many commas in the paragraph as a whole. Spelling and grammar checker: USE IT. “Almost, but not entirely by association, German” is just plain weird. Even if it were true, how is this cogent information?

Producers-Springtime-for-Hitler

The transference of so-called human subjectivity is unmistakable in Swedish, Malmö-based Alexander Gutke’s work Autoscope (2012). This 16mm film installation portrays the trajectory of a piece of film passing through the interior of a projector, exiting into a snowy, tree-dotted landscape, ascending upward into the sky before plunging back down to earth and looping back into the projector, and repeating the process, all as if in an allegory of reincarnation. The American, New Hampshire-based artist Michael E. Smith’s slight sculptural interventions, which often consist of recycled textiles, materials from the automotive industry, animal parts, and a variety of toxic plastics, are known to possess qualities hauntingly evocative of the human body, as if the spirit of one had entered the other. Drawing his formal vocabulary from machines and tools, French, Dijon-based artist Antoine Nessi creates sculpture, which can perhaps be best described as post-industrial, in which the inanimate seems to take on an organic quality, assuming a life of their own. Finally, the practice of the Swedish, Berlin-based artist Nina Canell is no stranger to the kinetic and to a certain, if specious, sense of animism. Something of a case in point, Treetops, Hillsides & Ditches (2011) is a multi-part sculpture comprised of four shafts of wood over the top of which a clump of Iranian pistachio gum has been spread and which slowly crawls down the sides of the wood, enveloping it, like living a skin.

Nothing and nobody can ascend downwards. Ascending is by definition movement in an upward direction. “No stranger to the kinetic and to a certain, if specious, sense of animism” is just cobblers. And people who stick their gum onto things should be prosecuted, fined and flogged like they are in Singapore.

Thus is the reception of each work complicated and vexed through issues of subjectivity, projection, necessity, and desire. Now to what extent the works are complicit in that reception both varies and is debatable. Whatever the case may be, it is virtually impossible to say, but this does not necessarily mean that it is impossible to conceive of a world without humanism, as argued by Robbe-Grillet, at its center.

Bloody humanism. Get the fuck out of here.

ROMANTICISM, BEAUTY, MONEY

18 Mar

THREE QUOTES FROM BRUNO MUNARI, ‘DESIGN AS ART’, 1966 (ON SUBJECTS THAT STILL HAVEN’T BEEN SORTED OUT BY THE ART WORLD FIFTY YEARS LATER)

Chatterton 1856 by Henry Wallis 1830-1916

“It must be understood that as long as art stands aside from the problems of life it will only interest a very few people… The artist must cast off the last rags of romanticism and become active as a man among men*, well up in present day techniques, materials and working methods.”

* Obviously this applies to women as well, and I don’t endorse automatic 1960s sexism.

 Michael_Jackson_and_Bubbles_(porcelain_sculpture)
“When a lot of money comes along before culture arrives, we get the phenomenon of the gold telephone.”

Batman89Vandalism

“A thing is not beautiful because it is beautiful, as the frog said to the she-frog, it is beautiful because one likes it.”

ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE S3E3: VOCABULARY

13 Mar

“I’M SORRY, HE’S FROM BARCELONA”

fawlty-towers-hd-images-7

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, an artist expresses his utter disdain for and rejection of the fetishised, unique art object and the mystique of the all-powerful curator by working with a curator to create and display unique, fetishised art objects at a gallery in Barcelona. Under some of the pretentious self-importance there’s actually quite a lot I agree with in the text that follows. However, I rarely go to the trouble of writing lengthy screeds against certain practices or attitudes only to immediately turn around and take part in them with gay abandon. At least not knowingly.

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.

“Beneath the dark and pestilent surface of the current state of affairs sunken in corruption and despair, frivolousness and aesthetic vanity, there is an emergent narcotic period in which almost no one bothers to assess and understand the process behind a work of art.”

Why should they? If an artist’s process is the most interesting thing about their art, then their art is probably not very interesting and neither are they, as artists or as human beings.

“The frivolousness is not Manzoni and his Artist’s Shit (which it turns out was not even artist’s shit) but crosses the world in a network of interests, favoritism and opportunism that inform debates and openings. 

Gillo Dorfles predicted that the critic would end up substituting for the artist. Perhaps he only erred in the nomenclature, for the word that describes him has gradually been replaced by others, such as curator or cultural administrator. Emmanuel Lévinas, who is more self-effacing, tells us that not only the name, but also the figure, as seen in the previous century, has now disappeared.”

Unless the people to whom you refer genuinely are cultural touchstones that any educated person in the world could be expected to know, either (briefly) explain who they are, or at least provide a proper reference for the source of your quote or paraphrase. Otherwise you’re just name dropping.

Continue reading

INTERVIEW AT ART MAP LONDON

14 Jan

AlistairGentry_VanGogh0712

Find out– among other things– the benefits of saying FUCK YOU to art world shitheels, how uncool starving in an attic is, and why you are probably not a princess or an astronaut.

http://artmaplondon.com/artmap/artist-artist-interview-alistair-gentry/

BEARS VS ABSTRACT CAPITALISM

29 Aug

No, not that type of bears. Try Tumblr. There’s a smartphone game called Bears vs. Art, in which

“Greedy millionaires have opened abstract art galleries to display and admire their latest work. Now Rory the bear is ready to fight back against the pointless pieces invading his home! … While pompous guests admire perplexing paintings, you get to rip them to shreds.”

Despite the ambiguous syntax, they do mean the paintings and the guests.

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I haven’t been able to play it, not that I particularly want to. It’s free (or rather “freemium” in the manner of Candy Crush Saga and the same developer’s Fruit Ninja, a subject I’ll return to) but even though it was marketed as a multiplatform, international game many months ago, so far it seems only to have emerged for Android in the UK and of course, obviously, Singapore. It doesn’t look like my mock up:

BearsVsArtCol

“Pointless objects hanging mid-air, hidden subtext from just a square?”

Destroying works of art and murdering “people who came to look” is super cute!

I won’t do much more analysis here because Daniel Golding has already done a very good job of it in a lengthy ABC article that I think you should read (link below). He also seems to have played it, unlike me. If any readers have the game, please leave a comment and tell us all what you thought of it.

It’s clear even from the promotional material that the game displays both a very unpleasant anti-intellectual disdain for individuals and things that seem too clever for certain other people’s liking and, as Golding writes, a superficially more liberal disgust for “accruing wealth at the expense of good grace (that is, destroying a forest to build a gallery, or selling apparently meaningless art).” Note the old chestnut of abstract art being particularly odious, for some reason. Greed overriding good sense seems, on the face of it, a position that arguably has some merit. Yet this is a game offered as free while encouraging people to spend considerable amounts of real money for in-game items that– guess what?– have no intrinsic value either and whose cost is also inflated out of all proportion to any real world commodity or the utility gained from it. Just like the art market. If you want to get into contempt then both industries are equally worthy of contempt, in other words. They’re both examples of abstract capitalism, almost entirely divorced from– or at least having unique and nonlinear relationships with– traditional economic factors like supply and demand, scarcity, or input of labour and materials. They’re actually bubble markets, which stay inflated only because of a collective agreement and faith (or delusion) that the commodities have worth, and that the market will continue to expand indefinitely. Which of course, being bubbles, it’s in their nature never to do. The trick is to flip your artist’s work or video game for a profit at the right time, before the bubble pops.

Inside the game industry, people who pay out for premium items or preferential access are known derisively as “whales”: they swallow everything, subsidising all the free games (sic) enjoyed by the more financially prudent majority. “Freemium” games, Candy Crush Saga and Farmville among the most notorious, are explicitly designed to be highly addictive while becoming increasingly untenable to play for free; at a certain point it becomes virtually impossible to progress without paying something, giving them access to your contacts so the company can market to them (AKA “share this with your friends!”), or both. This is now the dominant model for the massive mobile and tablet app market. So game developers are hardly taking the high road or restraining their greed, either. And even the art world isn’t gleefully positioning itself at the top of the slippery slope that ends with you hitting Heinrich Heine at the bottom, ruefully holding a placard that says THOSE WHO BEGIN BY BURNING BOOKS WILL END BY BURNING PEOPLE. I occasionally joke (for example) about the work of certain artists being indistinguishable from fly tipping or the things teenagers doodle on their school folders, but I wouldn’t spend a great many hours of my life programming a game in which they and their art are annihilated by an angry bear, in the hope of making a lot of money by exploiting the very same economic shenanigans I affect to hold in contempt. People Who Work in the Games Industry vs. Cognitive Dissonance.

By the way, Halfbrick also developed the aforementioned Fruit Ninja. It is a matter of public record that the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron is obsessed with this game. He spends “a crazy, scary amount of time playing Fruit Ninja on his iPad” according to a senior government advisor. Scary indeed. Maybe think about being obsessed with the wellbeing, safety and prosperity of the British people, dickhead?

http://www.abc.net.au/arts/blog/Daniel-Golding/Bears-vs-Art-A-battle-for-the-soul-of-Australias-gaming-industry-140319/default.htm

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