Tag Archives: Portugal

“A TEXTUAL PALIMPSEST”

21 Jan

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A recent press release (from repeat offenders Empty Cube in Lisbon) is too short to be worth bothering with for an Artbollocks Theatre reading but rest assured that is, nonetheless, total bollocks. Doing it would also make them the first art gallery featured twice. I guarantee that the long-promised third series of Artbollocks Theatre is coming very soon, by the way. I haven’t done it yet because either:

a) A powerful conspiracy of evil art world figures is doing everything they can to fight my message.

b) I’ve been too lazy and haven’t made the time to do it.

Decide for yourself which seems more likely, but if you’ll permit me to give you a clue I would tend towards a). Search your heart.

“The work consists of a mass of archive materials, specifically gathered by the artist himself for this ephemeral project…”

By the artist himself? Fuck me sideways with a plinth, what dedication. Nobody ever gathered their own materials before. The accompanying image (below) seems to confirm that, yeah… it’s just a bunch of papers in box files. Cross off (NORMAL THING) IS AMAZING BECAUSE ARTIST DID IT on your Artbollocks Bingo card! What a pity all the millions of office workers who’ve had to drudge away typing, printing or photocopying things, putting pieces of paper in folders and then taking them out again and then putting them in an envelope or back into another folder, ad nauseum, never realised they were actually making an ephemeral art project.

NNF_e-artnow

What most of us call “putting some papers in box files” is what they call

“…collecting and archiving a variety of elements that highlight and reconnect histories and stories, as well as the apparent affinities and relations of various references; in his work, the archive acts as a conceptual sub-structure that confronts us with our perennial and irreversible condition, in which memory is made to reconcile with the precise reconstruction of its fragmented legacy.”

Entendeu? Bom.

Nuno Nunes Ferreira explores this model exponentially by amassing a bibliographic archive that covers a whole year and is continuously dissected until the last second of that same year, whose reference in time is the exact day of the project’s presentation at EMPTY CUBE: January 23, 2015. The work’s metrics condenses temporality, juxtaposing it to a textual palimpsest that possesses a clockwork-like quality. Indeed, it is as if these texts were the face of a clock, on which we can constantly pinpoint time via the tangible possibility of recognizing the referential moment of a particular second in the sequence of the next movement.

There are so many questionable phrases in this paragraph that instead of repeating them I’ve just underlined them all with increasing despair, like a teacher or the Paperclip Man in old versions of MS Word.

1) Unless you mean that the paperwork is increasing proportionally to its current dimensions or extent, then you don’t mean exponentially. An example of an archive growing exponentially would be if every item of paperwork gave rise to two or more items of paperwork, each of which in turn gave rise to two or more items of paperwork, and so forth. I doubt this is happening. One also cannot amass something while simultaneously dissecting it, i.e. taking it apart to determine its internal structure. What amassed would be scattered and disassociated fragments of your archive, not necessarily the archive itself.

2) What are the work’s metrics? How does one condense temporality? Is it like condensed milk, sort of not really milk and not very nice? How does one juxtapose condensed temporality with a clockwork textual palimpsest? A palimpsest is something written or drawn over visible traces of previous material, so specifying that it’s textual is fine if we can stomach use of a word like palimpsest outside its sensible original context of medieval illuminated manuscripts. But how is it like clockwork? Is this all just a fancy way of saying that the artist is writing or doodling on old files?

3) As for “pinpointing”, “referential moment” and all that jazz… I genuinely don’t know how to process this as a meaningful sentence. It’s just aphasia or word salad; syntactically correct English but completely devoid of sense.

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ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE: VECTORS

5 May

ArtBTheatreTitleMore dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism. This is the last one for the time being, but I’ll be back soon with more highfalutin claptrap and a new dinner jacket. The art work being described (or not, as the case may be) was a “one nigth event” [sic] that took place in Lisbon this January. I suppose they could have further minimised the chances of anybody actually seeing whatever the hell it was they were showing by doing it in a boat 100km off the coast of Portugal or something, but theirs was certainly a brave step towards the high-end art world’s ideal of art not being visible to the general public at all.

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The title ‘Aula de Ginástica’ [Gymnastics Class] evokes a notion of time, a unit, a moment, a class, an exercise or set of exercises and, in this particular case, a spatial construction based on mental exercises that correspond to a set of reflections on the possibility and fulfillment of a project. Its presence is absence circumscribed by a geography that radically affects the EMPTY CUBE project in terms of its display potential: in what it shows for a single, unrepeatable moment and in the rarefaction of its space as the symbolic place of the exhibitive project.

Its presence is absence? My approval of whoever wrote this is annoyance. I have to say that for me ‘Gymnastics Class’ doesn’t evoke a notion of time, a unit or whatnot. It mainly evokes my PE teacher at secondary school who loved watching boys in the shower under the pretences of “making sure they washed” and doted on them until they hit puberty, then switched to bullying them relentlessly for the apparent sin of growing up. Charming fellow. Looked like a male version of Margaret Thatcher.

Exercises


Alongside this, designer Vieira Baptista combines a number of models and prototypes to reveal methodologies and processes that present the ephemeral as a transitory moment in the creative process itself, without losing sight of the viewer’s itinerary, which leads to a surprisingly deceptive plane. However, the geography and concomitant geometry imposed by his reflection on this project make it possible to visually construct the vectors of a now imaginary space that repeats itself in the memory of past EMPTY CUBE projects. EMPTY CUBE itself is suggested by the action of someone who intervenes in a space, be it the same space with which we are familiar or a different one, defined by Miguel Vieira Baptista’s design pieces on the walls of the host space.

I defy anybody to work out from this description what was actually being shown or done in the gallery or what it was really about. “Design pieces” doesn’t count either, because what is a “design piece”? There’s no obvious connection between these “design pieces” and the gibberish about methodologies anyway. I think this is one of the purest artbollocks texts I’ve done so far, at least in the sense that it’s all bollocks and no art. That’s why it’s hard to offer any kind of lengthy commentary on it. Some of the others gave the impression that there might conceivably be something worth seeing if you like that kind of thing and were able to ignore the nonsense that was being written about the work or the artist. Other horribly overwritten texts might have been edited down into something that had a factual core, if anybody on the premises was capable or inclined. This essay is an overinflated cream puff of a text, and that’s doing a disservice to cream puffs because at least they have cream inside them. There’s some half-cocked reference to the currently fashionable conceit that artists are a kind of researcher or technician of ideas, but when you crunch this one down there’s absolutely nothing potentially or actually informative in it whatsoever. Conceits– clever evasions, ingenious McGuffins, highbrow but hollow proclamations–  are what contemporary art all too frequently has at its core instead of ideas, emotion or the sharing of experiences.

For the “nigth” time: if an art work needs this much description in order for people to understand it or in order for the artist and their representatives to justify its existence, then it’s not really a work of art. Or if it is an art work, it’s an art work that needn’t exist and needn’t be seen because you just described everything worth knowing about it.

ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE: TACTILITY

16 Apr

ArtBTheatreTitleMore dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism every week, except when I don’t do them every week. Do you have a creepy hair fetish? If so, it sounds like you missed a good craic in Lisbon at the start of 2014, my friend. If, however, you like good art then you probably dodged a bullet by not seeing it. Actually I know nothing about the art or the artist outside of this text. The art itself may be great, just overexplained and ruined by the ghastly, awful stuff written about it. It’s not unusual for that to happen.

It’s also not unusual to have fun with anyone, but when I see you hanging about with anyone it’s not unusual to see me cry, I wanna die.

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Surprised by a piece that can only fully be appreciated in proximity and whose immateriality is increased when it is bathed in sunlight, the viewer must decide whether or not penetrate it. Many do so without hesitation, so they can play and experience it. Some remain outside, as voyeurs.

Urgh. Ambience of an orgy room behind a Parisian sex shop? No thanks.

Again we have redundant, trite writing that the author clearly produced on automatic. All art can only be appreciated in proximity, especially in an art gallery because there’s usually a fairly low limit to how far away you can get. How else would you appreciate a normally or domestically scaled art work, or a digital work, or a moving image work? From thirty miles away? From orbit? I can’t see the Mona Lisa from here because it’s in the Louvre and I’m in my flat in England, and I can tell you categorically: that painting is doing nothing for me right now. Even huge works of art like the giant Buddhas of Asia or the Gormley’s Angel of the North can only be appreciated when you’re close enough to see what they are and judge their scale properly, even if “close” means half a mile away, i.e. when by definition you are in proximity to them. The only possible exceptions are earthworks, geoglyphs (e.g. the Nazca Lines) and other Land Art type interventions, but that isn’t what we’re talking about in this case. The alternative explanation is the author politely suggesting that the art work looks crap, or looks like nothing, unless you’re almost on top of it.

Inside, the artwork provokes a set of contradictory feelings. The fragility of the hair causes some apprehension, enhanced by the fact that it is a work of art. However, overriding this fear, the artwork offers itself up, welcoming, to be touched and caressed. This duality produces a phenomenon of attraction and repulsion, which is both physical – even on a level as subtle as static electricity – and psychological. All this translates into an experience, to some extent, dreamlike, surreal; as if the ‘forest of lianas’ could suddenly become a jungle of fine underwater algae.

I don’t know, either. I’ve got nothing. I think we should just back out of the room quietly and leave him alone with the hair. Continue reading

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