‘Muller’ IKEA 2007: Shaun Belcher Readymade exhibited at numerous locations around the country see Gallery page.
In an act of humility and contrition Moogee is going to go gently on the next exhibition at Angel Row…’Cutting Edge Flagship’ of the city ofÂ Nottingham the home of the fresh and the brave….yeah right……NOT
The next show is titled ‘Business as Usual’ and never has this been more appropriate. Following on from the Parade …well…brisk walk..of the local luminaries we have an exchange show return from Zagreb…the jury isÂ out on that one but it looks interesting…and this…. To say the ideology and curatorial positioning similar to some of the work in Parade shows is a given ..
I quote from Edward’s Axis page….
Sean Edwards’ sculptures set up situations that lead you into examining your viewing habits. Through a formal analysis of both the real and the fake, search often employing a notion of absurdity in the process, here Edwards aims to expose the machinery of our take on reality and to lay bare an object’s function and use value.
Already a prize winner for such cutting edge ‘interventions’ as painting the Slade School of Art doors orange…woo hold me back that is radical….sorry but sometimes this kind of pretentious and earnest research led ‘work’ just makes old Moogee laugh. Of course that work questioned notions of seeing…..hmmmm of course nothing flamboyantly self-advertising about it was there..no silly meâ€¦.
We seem to be caught in a decade of furniture removal artists..forget trad materials young artists you want to get ahead these days just get yourself some furniture..it so cliched already it become almost laughable. I know art students are up to their eyeballs in debt but please somebody loan them some pencils, thumb paper, paints and wood and stone for god’s sake or we’ll all be sitting around rubbing our chins at another generation of furniture shifters…in twenty years time….
Funniest of all is the fact that these ‘FURNERS’ are always using slightly ‘retro’ chic furniture it seems poor old IKEA is just no good for a badly thought out readymade these days..maybe it’s the lack of a patina of age…or simply that using new furniture would not mean it looked conveniently distressed. In this show (and no I will not see it or enter the gallery – if they can be so boringly oblique why should I bother walking round what is basically a set of illustrations to a thesis) we also have research student..Professor Pathway Intellectual grade 3 reverse somersault..(extra points for research) in C.V. Maxine Bristow.
Dull theoretical base andÂ her ‘surgery’ locatedÂ in a ‘Centre for Practice as Research’ at University of Chester…woo more avant-garde fun and frolics I bet …(no Bowery aesthetics here, no Warholian underground no its Chester:-) Seriously the website says it all (in copious amounts) this is art as academic living and good luck to her it pays the mortgage. Portfolio reveals handrails, towels, bags..very post-feminist research etc etc ….to be fair looks a little IKEA so maybe unfair to apply retro tag. Again her own spinning yarn says more than I ever could…very successful she is too but I’d rather watch paint dry..literally…
Â …through her own work which establishes a dialectic between the processes, materials, and accompanying discourses of needlework/plain-sewing and the visual and conceptual concerns of minimalism, she provides a model of practice which aims to challenge perceptions and generate new practical and theoretical perspectives and thereby open up a critical space for making which acknowledges textile traditions and conventions.
So there you go …to be honest I found the recent exhibition at Castle Nottingham by Catherine Bertola to be far more interesting take on this area with far more than its own thesis to air…indeed it may have been one of the most locally relevant and crafted shows of the year.
Finally and courtesy of the Seventeen Gallery London a couple of art stars ( U.K. South Conference League division two) of which I far prefer David Ersser’s rather amusing (first time) reconstruction of everyday objects in balsa wood. A kind of little boy’s rebuilding of the adult world instead of just a few gliders that invariably crash back to earth. Similarly the elegance and dare I say it ‘craft’ of his work is charming but once you have scanned through all the variations it does become rather wearing like seeing the same joke told again and again (never harmed Julian Opie or Prince Hirst the First) but that’s it…….he makes things out of balsa.
Check the seventeen gallery at http://www.seventeengallery.com/?p=2&id=4
One thing you can say about the â€˜Furner’ Generation is they do look lovely at jpg level on the web and maybe that is what all this is all about. This generation are profferring ideas which only incidently need actual realisation. Lacking the finances to set up in studio spaces (average price in London currently Â£300 a month) they have opted for a practical but finally dehabilitating irony and distance that is driving them farther and farther away from the tactility of material interaction. We may soon see a reaction to this divorce from materials and technique and a lessening of the intellectual gliding. As grant cut-backs impactÂ heavilyÂ on artist’s incomes a lot of the hangers and runways that coddle these flights of the ephemeral will disappear andÂ a good many glidersÂ will simply crash back to earth.
Moogee is gettingÂ known forÂ hisÂ joking and revisionist approach to the nature of contemporary art but do not dismiss because they areÂ jokes..they are serious jokes. I do not throw these comments out lightly. I believe there has been a lack of rigorous intellectual approaches and a good deal of what we see tagged with the fashionable and flighty word ‘successful artist’ will disappear and quickly. I witnessed this kind of irony and intervention many years back e.g. Richard Wentworth but then he was in the minority. Now every degree show has its ready-mades practitioner and to be honest isn’t it all getting a bit boring. Modern Art, or as it has lovingly beenÂ re-branded post-Saatchi, ‘Contemporary Practice’ (as if ashamed that anything to do with an advertising executive could be called ‘modern art’) has drifted down a cul-de-sac of its own intellectual construction. The worst and brightest offenders are the post Polytechnic university cohortsÂ (a word derivitive of their original purpose – to fabricate engineers and crafts-people) who have created a monopoly on what does and not constitute the ‘cutting edge academy’.
However they are no more the inheritors of radical practice than Blair was an inheritor of the Luddites. It is a be-calmed ocean of theoretical limpitude…….I threw that in to show even a barking dog can engage in ‘critical discourse’:-)
A bit more intellectual and theoretical LuddismÂ will beÂ needed to throw off these shackles and enter a genuinely wider debate.
For every Susan Collis (our final participant in Business as Usual – 17 gallery again) whose blurb is almost supremely special….
Collis’ practice involves a subversion of time frame and visual perception through the manipulation of everyday objects. In the piece ‘Paint Job’, what initially seems like a collection of careless splashes and stains upon the fabric of utilitarian worker’s overalls are, on closer inspection, meticulously stitched marks replicating the accidental and spontaneous moment.
It’s almost like Spinal Tap for art when blurb after blurb repeat the same Derridaesque formulas….on and on it goes and where will it all end…..how many interventions in furniture can a small island like ours take?
The â€˜fabric of utilitarian workerâ€™s overallsâ€™ sounds like a Virginia Wolfism on being confronted by these dreadful worker typesâ€¦.oh how simply awful ..I mean real workersâ€¦.indeed perish the thought. Is this 1920 and we all off to Henley after this art larking over???
I am not asking for the Angel Row to fill itself with paintings of victorian children, Jack Vetrianos (who I actually think stronger than the arts elite will allow) and god-forbid …..landscape artists…but for every dull â€˜new acadamyâ€™ show like this there an equal show of painters, sculptors using more traditional methods whoÂ have been and are continuing to beÂ ignored. I challenge the Angel Row to let Moogee curate a show of the ‘outsiders’ and I bet I can find work as interesting and as founded in literate theoretical positions and ambition as any of this.
I do not blame the Angel Row staff or have any special reason for focussing my criticisms on them in particular they very nice people and they simply doing their job as advertised. They are operating in a wider art world of funding cuts and general indifference to the visual arts which not stuck in a cheap frame at IKEA .
What I am highlighting is the fact that several generations of artists have gone unseen, unheard because of such obvious fashionistas…The reason? Well its all about a production line these days.
Colleges of art are producing more and more able graduates in all fields and one of the most over-subscribed is the arts especially, as Grayson Perry pointed out, it becoming a â€˜finishing-schoolâ€™ for the sons and daughters of the middle-classes. It may or may not be all ‘croissants and the guardian’ as he stated in a Times article but it is becoming a default option for young students who intellectually bright but who do not fancy getting a real jobâ€¦..yet. For them a decade of moving the furniture does not mean housework (male or female)Â it means making art…when not too intellectually or physically heavy.
There is an imbalance that needs redressing but does ideologicaly compliant art necessarily mean good art ? As for art schools reflecting the wider make-up of our society just go to any degree show. At any one time there are more Korean, Japanese overseas students on courses than home-grown minority students….it is not the white middle-class who losing out it is the Asian and Afro-Caribbean youth who missing the gravy trains….
My detractors, and I expect they already many ready to dismiss me as a ‘Peter Fulleresque Ranter’ , miss the point. Our art schools are not in as fine and dandy a state as the PR departments would like us to think. The quality of art-teaching and artworks is not as consistantly high as the same highly glossed advertorials in brochures (sorry Prospecti) would have us believe.The dreaded bottom line and financial implications mean some standards have been eroded, possibly terminally’ by these ‘advances’.
This ‘review’ did not need to attend the show which in fact not even open yet to address these fundamentals. The quotes above depending on your point of view corroborate or deny your own entrenched views on where that art world (international or otherwise) truly is. I am simply trying to prise some of the debating ground open so that the other side of the coin can be seen and allowed to shine a little. I and many artists like me have been sidelined because of it and in many cases quite unfairly. Balance may not be possible but surely every artist should be allowed to fly their kite/model aeroplane.
Remember the academy thought they were right in France in 1899 and look what happened there…nobody has an exclusive handle on the truth. Nobody is immune from being crap too…….whatever they may say….
As a beautiful postscript to these thoughts I suggest a singularly wonderful track by The Handsome Family an americana duo from Chicago now resident in the Mojave Desert. Their song ‘Moving Furniture Around’ says more than all the above ‘artistes’ with dare I say it more compassion, craft and genuine talent…but then they just travelling musicians…not academics or professional artists. Artists studios used to resemble workshops full of rebels..these days they operate more like architects practicesâ€¦
p.s. amusing footnote – this show also uses the previously hidden and obviously fascinating space of the Angel Row store-room……just like Mr. Russell did in Parade….bit like babies and cardboard boxes at Xmas that one then…I wonder if it so rivetting why they don’t just open a storeroom up as a gallery and save on building CCAN for Â£15 Million it would be a hell of a lot cheaper…….