Tag Archives: Curator Error


26 Sep

“And so, faced with demands of balance and social adaptation, I oppose the claimed neurosis and dysfunctional logic…”

The interest in Artbollocks Theatre has been so great– including the prospect of some live onstage thespianism later this year– that I’m making a special effort to collect more of the worst press releases and artist statements for future performances. Here are some recent acquisitions that have attracted my wrathful gaze like the angry lighthouse in the Lord of the Rings films. Meanwhile, there’ll be a new episode of Artbollocks Theatre tomorrow (27th September) at 12.30 GMT.


“The space of the white cube is normally used to display objects. What Senstad is showing us are different works that have the removal of the object as a theme. In Color Kinesthesia and Color Synthesthesia IV she shows us light perceived as color. Small technically [sic] modifications in the perception can alter even an empty space into a massively colored place.

In the same way she shows that a sculpture is a three-dimensional object, obviously, but that this object not only fills the space in the white cube. It also contains a space inside itself. By folding out the sculpture she questions the function of the sculpture as a solid and defining marker of a gallery space, a way of seeing sculptures that minimalism taught us in the 1960s.”

The space is inside the space that fills the space but doesn’t. Either that, or somebody bought a pack of coloured light bulbs at IKEA because they were on special offer. Silly Modernism, teaching us that sculptures are solid three dimensional objects. Ha ha, so wrong. The ambulance driver is here to take you back to the retirement home for your medication, Modernism.


»Museum Off Museum« is formulating questions as to the current meaning of artistic practice and how it understands itself, as to the form and function of exhibiting, the future of knowledge generation and cultural mediation. The interest additionally circumvents the processes of analysis and translation as well as an investigation of static forms of representation in times of mobile communication. Expanding the contexts of knowledge, the history of cultural identity, the materiality and cultural codes of collections as well as artefacts play a central role in this regard. The process of differentiating between works of art and historical documents, images and reproductions, exhibits and displays, installations, stages and filmic setting will be shifting within the exhibition. In this process, the exhibition reflects, on the one hand, the subjective potential of museums’ narratives and academic methods. On the other hand, the symbolic order of knowledge defined by museums is being questioned, fictionalised and expanded. Besides, the project focuses on the influence of artistic interventions within museums and on exhibition concepts in the present day.

Oh hello, it’s our old friends “investigation” and one hand/other hand, back yet again to add nothing whatsoever to our understanding of art. Of course the interest additionally circumvents the processes of analysis and translation and… wait, no. For a moment there I thought I’d had a stroke and lost my ability to process language, but it’s OK. This person is just writing long strings of grammatically correct but content-free gobbledygook.


And so, faced with demands of balance and social adaptation, I oppose the claimed neurosis and dysfunctional logic. Faced with assurance and confidence reflecting a market’s good health, I claim self-deprecating esthetics of destruction (after construction) and of grime. Faced with agreed sobriety offering comfortable esthetic, “prefabricated” and easy to digest points of reference, I build a complex, brutal and fragmented work. Faced with the truly dictatorial so-called maturity of a laborious majority, I oppose a childish thing made of neon colors that could have come out of an anarchist children daycare. Faced with the unique and reassuring reading of a play existing for and by itself, I create a dependence of the works on each other, multiplying points of view and signs…
Therefore, this exhibition was built on the exploration of the limits of individual freedoms, rejecting any principle of adaptation and conformity to elaborate the esthetic hypothesis of a thought free to shy away from itself, its goals and habits at any time. It rests on shifting foundations that support the changing architecture of identity whose perpetual movement, escape or avoidance constitute the ultimate resistance in the face of the burdening rigidity of the enslaving machine…

All you so-called mature individuals are TOTAL DICTATORIAL FASCISTS, OK? This artist REJECTS your adaptation and conformity, you SLAVE SHEEPLE. [Music cue: Rage Against the Machine, Killing in the Name.] Continue reading


7 Aug

There’s a frequently heard complaint in contemporary art galleries: “He can’t even draw. My five year old could do better.” Usually they’re perfectly and excruciatingly wrong, but finally an exhibition has come along where it would be entirely apposite and correct to make such a comment. It’s Bob Dylan’s Face Value at the National Portrait Gallery in London! And yes, your five year old could do better. Dylan even uses school art cupboard supplies to craft his masterpieces, just like a five year old. Alas his drawings did not find their proper home, i.e. stuck to the fridge door with a magnet.


The life model does NOT look like an educationally subnormal postman who’s just strangled your dog, and neither she nor I appreciate your efforts at humour. F. See me after class, Robert. (ACTUAL ART WORK BY BOB DYLAN, ON SHOW AT ONE OF THE UK’S AND OUR CAPITAL CITY’S FLAGSHIP PUBLIC ART GALLERIES.)

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Bob Dylan is one of the most influential cultural figures of our time. He has always created a highly visual world either with his words or music, or in paints and pastels. I am delighted that we can now share these 12 sketches which were made for display at the National Portrait Gallery.’


  1. Bob Dylan was (arguably) one of the most influential cultural figures of the 1960s. Our time is the second decade of the 21st century.
  2. You’d have to be living in some kind of Lovecraftian horror madness world or be a case study for Oliver Sacks if you use paints and pastels but don’t create visually. What else would you do with pastels? Eat them? Create a world of invisible pastel sound?
  3. “I am delighted”= I had to say something for the press release. Either that or Sandy Nairne’s threshold for delight is depressingly low. Why are gallery directors always “delighted”? When and why did that become the standard word for describing one’s feelings about events at the gallery you work at? Are you really delighted by portrait work carried out by somebody who doesn’t appear to know that people have skulls under their skin because that’s one of the things stopping their eyes and other facial features bobbing around atop their physiognomy like icebergs on the sea?
  4. Thanks for sharing. Really, you shouldn’t have bothered. No, seriously. YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE.

Here’s my little tribute to Bob’s exhibition and the NPG, executed in his favourite medium.


I may be biased, but I venture to suggest that even my deliberately, insultingly bad drawing that took me less than five minutes to make still has a certain vitality and general je ne sais quoi that is sorely lacking from Dylan’s efforts. Perhaps it’s because I really do know how to draw and I’m not just some sad celebrity has-been who thinks that because he used to be good at something, he’s automatically good at everything. Just a suggestion.

This little train wreck was “curated by the Gallery’s Contemporary Curator, Sarah Howgate, whose exhibitions include the highly successful Lucian Freud Portraits (2012) and David Hockney Portraits (2006).” Curated by the curator? Well, blow me down, there’s a shocker and magnificently clumsy English too. I posted my post in the postbox and the postman delivered the post to the address I posted it to. What was highly successful, the exhibitions? Lucian Freud? Lucian Freud portraits in general? The exhibition called ‘Lucian Freud Portraits’? Wait until your interns have passed their English GCSEs before you let them issue press releases, people. As a draughtsman Dylan’s right up there with Hockney and Freud, no doubt. Email me ASAP, Sarah, because I could bang out a load more like the pastel work above really quickly and nae bother. You might have to clear a space but I’m sure there’s some boring old real artists whose work could be chucked out to make room.

More celebrity art catastrophes:

The civically minded light entertainers Dave Lee Travis and Rolf Harris, who have recently been helping the police officers of Operation Yewtree with their enquiries. Repeatedly, in the case of Rolf Harris. What kind gentlemen they are.

Sgt. Pepper’s Wonky Mousemat Hand: the MS Paint oeuvre of Ringo Starr, apparently inspired by the artistic stylings of twelve year olds on Reddit.


20 Jun

This kind of bullshit really needs to stop.

“∆E=W (change in energy = the work) is a project by artist Emma Smith investigating the energetics of practice… ∆E=W aims to collapse the distinction between art object and ephemeral act by considering all matter, on the sub-atomic level, as energy. Moving beyond a scientific constraint of how we might consider energy, the project investigates the potential of art as a mechanism for the channeling or conversion of energy as experienced physically through the body. Exploring energy in relation to the body, collective action, and practice, the game proposes a new language for interaction within the gallery.”


“Exploring energy in relation to the body, collective action, and practice, the game proposes a new language for interaction within the gallery.”

While written bullshit also needs to stop– seriously, Emma, you clearly don’t know a fucking jot about science so just knock that shit right off– the bullshit I’m mainly referring to is an advert by the Zabludowicz Collection for fifteen “voluntary” (i.e. unpaid) performers to be in Smith’s work at Z’s place. Admittedly it’s only a commitment of about three hours, but the Zabludowicz fortune is somewhere in the region of £1,500 million. ITC/Equity weekly rates for a performer start at £420, plus expenses. The legal minimum wage for a person over 21 is currently £6.19/hour. Apparently, though, Anita Zabludowicz and her flying pashmina monkeys or the artist herself can’t even find £278.55 (£6.19 x 3 x 15) to pay these people if they really think their presence is necessary? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

UK law stipulates that if you are expected to turn up at a specific time and remain there for a stated period (that’s a yes, in this case) and if you couldn’t send somebody else to do your job (also a yes, since the performers have been briefed and rehearsed) then you are an employee and your situation is subject to the national minimum wage. A recent High Court case about internships confirmed this legal position. Saying it’s a voluntary post doesn’t help you. You can call the position whatever you like, but if it meets the aforementioned criteria then it is work and it must by law be paid at no less than the national minimum. So, as far as I can tell, this “opportunity” actually contravenes the law. Arts Council England is also very clear and unequivocal about such matters:

“We recognise that there is great value in people having access to proper work experience, where it is offered and arranged properly and is a mutually beneficial arrangement, but that this should never be used as a way of attempting to circumvent national minimum wage regulations.” (text shown as a sidebar on every page of ACE’s arts jobs site).

But, even leaving that aside (as so many large arts institutions conveniently do), should we have to put up with anybody and everybody expecting us to work for free and be grateful for the “opportunity”? Continue reading


26 Apr

(*Too long, did not understand.)

Either I just succumbed to some kind of reading disorder, or the reliably daft e-artnow list has delivered another payload of grade-A twaddle. I’ll make some allowances for Bildfrost (“Frozenness”) being an exhibition at a German gallery, but on the other hand although I’m pretty confident that I speak German I’d still want to run my German press release past somebody who was a native speaker to make sure I wasn’t making ein Arsch of myself.

I’ll just pull out the silliest phrases and paragraphs at random from what is quite a lengthy screed, but trust me: it all makes about as much sense out of context as it does in context, i.e. virtually none. There’s also a lot of telling us what we’d be able to see with our eyes if we could see the art, which is redundant, patronising and controlling if we intend to see the art and usually baffling if we can’t see the art and probably never will.

BILDFROST (“Frozenness”)

“Initially, the picture seals itself off from the interpretation of any impression. An oscillating flurry emits from the center that steers the anticipation of a disappearing space into darkness. At the same time, it becomes clear that the fabric of colors is the result of picturesque grid structures. Has large pixilated photography been translated into painting or is the painting imitating a print? The understanding of the romantic image remains a wanting. The work resists any outsider’s demand to understand and requires an active positioning of the viewer. A motive between figurative speech and reflections on media.”

Continue reading


4 Mar



The oldest known articulated figure, from central Europe in the Ice Age, carved from mammoth ivory.

My review of Ice Age Art at the British Museum goes like this: it’s interesting, go and see it. The British Museum is one of my favourite museums in the world anyway; how could it not be when it’s full of all the brilliant stuff we plundered from around the world while we had an empire and we could get away with it? Their little Ice Age video installation is quite poor, though. Provincial Chinese museum of Communist art level of quality. Seriously, British Museum, I’m a professional and I do that kind of thing for a living: email me. Or at least contact somebody who knows what they’re doing. Continue reading

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