TimeOut & C-Mag

Cedric Christie

I Could Have Done That, Commercial TimeOut Oct 22nd 1997 Issue 1418 by FStapleton

In the upper gallery, various revisions of Modernity are under way. Mixing and matching elements from several sources – high and low, art-historical and art-shop – Cedric Christie's I Could Have Done That skews these incarnations by passing them through the thickened media of press distortion, wandering attention and popular indignation. On the floor, he has placed a more or less convincing imitation of Carl André’s Equivalent VIII. Famously, at the Tate in 1976, this work was transformed through popular scandal into a costly and useless ‘pile of bricks’. The new version appears here as a kind of materialisation of the murk of disgruntlement and faulty recall which surrounds the original. Nearby, on the wall, a similar sort of out-of-focus squint is aimed at some of Barnett Newman’s seminal oeuvre. Christie has reworked Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue, dividing it into three separate black and white panels, each with the name of a colour embossed into the centre. By doing so, he confounds Newman’s early colour and late black and white work. He also throws a bit of Jasper Johns’ words-on-canvas into the mix, producing an odd mush of High Modernism.
In the lower gallery, another version of the game is begun. This time, it’s directed at generalised veneration for a Big Name from a past age. Christie boils Shakespeare’s complete works down to the inert vestiges of their most basic component, ie the letters of the alphabet. The results appear like the elements of a Mensa qualifier. This cheeky reduction is repeated as a painting, an installation, a film and a sculpture. Four standard categories of art have been laid bare for this purpose.

Iain Sinclair
Jago, TimeOut Nov 12th 1997 Issue 1421 by FStapleton

According to the blurb on one of his recent books, Iain Sinclair ‘walks the reader into a deranged remapping of London.’ This might adequately describe his first art show which, like a literary work, opts for data-richness over plastic presence.
Extending his interest in what he calls the ‘psychogeography’ of London, Sinclair has invited eight volunteers – some of them familiar names – to select destinations from an outdated map for him to walk to. He also asked them to work at uncovering their own occult visions of the cosmopolitan experience. The resulting items, plus snapshots of the journeys and Sinclair’s own notes, are neatly filed along the walls. Within the rigid confines of this project, gentle possibilities are allowed to flourish demurely. In this mass of detail, one can trace idiosyncratic routes of one’s own. Critic Marina Warner has donated a pair of plastic toy shoes and a hair-raising fantasy about a ‘saint’ who, surviving horrors, left her footprints embedded in volcanic rock. Novelist Michael Moorcock provides a bottle of Daddies brown sauce, along with the suggestion that Sinclair may be the bastard offspring of Lord Longford. There are photos of a large pentangle sprayed onto a pavement, a plaque in memory of comedian Bernie Winters, and a drift of pink Spring blossom.
These broken dreams of London and beyond recombine to produce a revision of the city as an insubstantial mnemopolis. Incongruous highlight among the drifting wreckage is a Japanese edition of a Jeffrey Archer novel.

Ian Stevenson
The Coronarium, TimeOut Oct 22nd 1997 Issue 1418 by FStapleton

As you step inside the Coronarium – a glass, metal and concrete panopticon, so named as it was built in the Jubilee year to house a celebratory crystal crown – you interrupt an invisible beam triggering a series of noises. There’s distant traffic, slowed down talking, machinery, water, and moaning voices. These hauntings, created by Ian Stevenson, are appropriate to a shrine once dedicated to something akin to a hillock of Ferrero Rocher chocs.
In the daytime, the pedestrian tourist traffic is momentarily diverted into this small, transparent folly. Children in particular like to join in, howling feral responses. They seem to do very well without paying any attention to the intrusive note pasted in triplicate on the glass that lamely attempts to define the experience, and falsely claims it to be an example of ‘the innovative deployment of cutting-edge contemporary art’. Instead, there are mild pleasures provided by the casual interweaving of internal and external sights and sounds, coupled with the charming novelty of strolling through a place not dissimilar to the village set of The Prisoner, and detouring into this Tardis of eerie sounds and silences.
At night, the mood-lighting of St Katherine’s Dock sports amiably over the office blocks and pleasure craft. This is the time that one can most clearly experience the playful gloominess of the work. Its faintly comic qualities converse haltingly with the incongruous island of gentrification that surrounds it.

Sean Dower
Matt’s Gallery TimeOut Nov 26th 1997 Issue 1423 by FStapleton

Zombie lore has it that when there’s no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the Earth. In Sean Dower’s home-made movie, a group of undead art students, pale and fresh from the grave, shamble through the local area. En route, they pick up debris – crates, a shopping trolley, boxes, bits of wood and paper – and converge on Matt’s Gallery, the scene of their own mystic promotion. Once there, they shuffle around, listlessly combining their objets trouvés into half-hearted assemblages.
The movie is presented on a big screen leaning into the middle of the room. Shot in 3D, the action looms wonkily into the space. These are the co-ordinates of the satire. The numbed action occurs right here in the gallery, the studio, the college – the spaces where art is formed or fails to form; where students, more dead than alive, languish in the twilight separating them from a sense of their own work. The craven freaks, not quite able to work alone or collaborate, are impelled to trudge forward in unison, clutching forlornly at tattered possibilities.
Inevitably, in the actual world of the art student, this situation is relieved one way or another. At college, either secretarial, tyrannical or creative attitudes sooner or later prevail. In Dower’s comedy of living death, the results are left largely unannounced. In the final minute, the undead spot the camera and surge gracelessly towards it. Maybe cannibalism is the most attractive option after all.

From This Moment On...
The Approach, TimeOut Dec 3rd 1997 Issue 1424 by FStapleton

The works in this group show surreptitiously check and confirm each other’s faint pulse. In particular, Andrew Grassie’s three small painted views of this very exhibition function as monitors for the slow leakage of energy. In his miniatures, various details of the gallery recur in even more mutated form. He has lowered the blood pressure of his own work by adding trompe-l’oeuil shadows, shifting his pictures to the status of paintings of paintings of paintings.
In one of these views, a tiny vision of the crucial moment from Rachel Lowe’s movie loop of John Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie can be detected. A felt-tip outline of the frame in which Ben Gazzara shoots his victim imposes itself over the rest of the loop like a shaky template of disaster. Nearby, the electronic dripping from Aletta de Jong and Jason Coburn’s upside down stereo happens to mark time with the repeated image of the bookie pacing in slow motion towards his final bath.
In the context of the subdued regime of the show, Shizuka Yokomizo’s dark photos of solitary sleepers bring to the surface some more obscure qualities of sleep. Here, one thinks of a withholding of living energy rather than recuperative napping.
By the door, Coburn’s double tapping sound, like a mike being tested or a chair being cautiously shifted, reservedly announces the possibility of a beginning.

Gregor Schneider
Sadie Coles Gallery, TimeOut Dec 10th 1997 Issue 1425 by FStapleton

The three videos playing on big wall-mounted tellies triangulate a ghostly inertia. The first is of a spare and static interior view. The second is a tireless looped journey in and out of a room containing a table set for two. The third shows a boarded up corridor with a chain draped across it museum-fashion, and a mirror-ball wafting dots of light across the walls. In a darkened recess of the gallery, a large video projection charts a struggle through an elaborately crusted interior space riddled with holes, crawlways, chunky outcrops and debris.
Items from these videos resurface in a line of small photos and in the flesh, casually leaning around the gallery. There is a black spiky orb, for instance, and a larger than life plaster breast.
This is a show full of under-developed examples cross-referenced for an attempt at thoroughness. As is often the case, the gallery information sheet reveals the precise reason for the disappointment: back in Monchengladbach, Gregor Schneider has a special house in which he lives and works – it’s normal on the outside, crazy on the inside – which he has rebuilt as a disorienting social space. There is even a room which can rotate so that the unsuspecting visitor exits to quite an unfamiliar place. This sounds like a lot of fun, but what we see in the videos, photos and samplings of objects here is only a diminished form of the house and its contents.
C: International Contemporary Art Magazine
What I actually wrote about Per Hüttner  
Swedish 'artist-curator' Per Hüttner is conducting "an experiment in democratising the curatorial process". Here's how.
He had a team choose items by fifty-seven artists to be 'curated' during gallery opening hours by one volunteer member of the public per day.
Another team provided indexing, uniforms, games, strategies, books, phone numbers and a big modular storage unit.
The quicker the daily curators take their choice of items out of the box and put them in the room and arrange the modular box how they like it, the longer their achievement may be admired. If they're slow enough, only the gallery staff will be seeing the result. In any case, everything goes back in the box for the next day's volunteer.
This activity is supposed to address many curatorial and aesthetic questions, primarily artist-intention vs. subsequent interpretation.
This red herring is our big clue. The prime curatorial question is of course: Why have I convinced myself that the aesthetic loop should include me? And the prime question of interpretation is: What is it that I am now looking at?
Per Hüttner's manifest answer to the first question is: Because I see myself as a lord.
My answer to the second question is: I'm looking at a game, mutative and feudal, with several tiers of collusion, various opportunities for reward and disappointment, and viral in its tendency towards the proliferation of stats (like: Which artist's work got taken out of the box least) and in its international and cybernautic promise.
I'm also looking at a bid for curatorial practice as art, and for curatorial supremacy over its subject arts disciplines.
So, what about the artists' stuff that's constantly getting moved about? Well, some of it wants to be in Hüttner's game and about Hüttner's game more than others, and some of it's alright and some of it isn't.

Correct version © FStapleton 2003 on Per Hüttner's exhibition I am a Curator at Chisenhale Gallery, London 2003

Collier Schorr
Things have already happened or are coming to their close in Collier Schorr's photographs of young wrestlers in their gymnasium. Livid and depleted bodies standing, slumping, grasping each other. There's no exhilaration. She's left out the winners, or they're too tired for celebration. Theirs is a compact world of punishing routines of stamina, force meeting resistance, the revelations that the mind receives from the body's extreme exertions.
Yes, Schorr's images are ‘somehow... hallucinated’ to quote the press release. Yes, they have ‘the appearance of spiritual transcendence’ to quote the artist. But lyrical waxings about the content of photographs are better applied to the medium itself which always transforms life into a poetics of arrested time, and which by its nature produces hallucinations and conjures dreams of transcendence. Hence the modern
little anxieties to do with will in its production and awe in its reception.
Microseconds of shutter-speed can catch us all unawares. Between the expected grappler-grimaces, some of Schorr’s pictures freeze those other fleeting half-secret emotions related to solitary reflection.
The bodies are lit, the backgrounds not. Photography’s other trade is with painting. Often, each hankers after the condition of the other: painting has a human hand furiously at work; photography has the miracle of the apparition. That’s why, banally, they quite often look like each other. Caravaggio’s battered types and shadowy grounds are in Schorr’s work, for example, as are Degas’ straining ballerinas.
One picture shows two brothers standing side by side. Like all brothers, they elicit comparison. One is the stockier and is cut on the leg; the taller one is cut on the face. These are emphases of the purposeful body, made then tested.
Some of Schorr’s photos are chopped and reassembled in casual spare little collages. Nothing too flash, just an additional pair of wrestlers in the bout, confusing the limbs, interrupting the earnest conflict with a provisional choreography. Or parts: a nipple, an arm, creased flesh, looking for other sensualities in these tableaux.
A broader scene shot from high up shows resting legs, dangling ropes, someone walking, others headlocked, a big round floor pattern. The distance, the low contrast, the even spacing give these fragments equal value. Human bodies limited, expanded, shaped by the rule of the order. This is the repeated theme of the work because this is what Schorr discovered when she went there.

© FStapleton & C: International Contemporary Art Magazine 2004
on Collier Schorr's exhibition at Modern Art Inc, London, spring 2004

Phyllida Barlow

All Wrong
So the guest (a dishevelled oracle) that stares wildly at the sandwiches, or makes an odd utterance, or has an entirely unusual purpose in mind….
In a Phyllida Barlow show, some things are crammed between architectural features, or look spit-and-slapped onto the wall, or have burgeoned up from inside the room. Often as not, these things can’t leave at the end of the party without being destroyed. That is, in dismantling them to get them back out, they must be broken down beyond a point where they could be faithfully reconstructed elsewhere. This means that the larger ones’ current venue is their only habitat – in their current forms, bearing these specific identities. That’s mostly how they conduct their business as room-peculiar installation: by default, because the conditions of transferability have been stacked in advance. Then if the thing can be broken down into biggish components that keep it fairly intact and transferable, you know what default position this ease relates to.
Similarly for the smallest of them which can be taken away whole and placed elsewhere: the materials (cardboard, cement mousse, polystyrene, tape…) and the construction (designed only to beat gravity and the weaker forces of human handling) tell of their relation to a comparable set of contingencies. All of which is a particular response that can be made to an invitation: the oracular, warning of folly.
The folly of course being too deep an investment in absolutes. Barlow’s recorded autobiographical anecdotes relate early encounters with certain institutional rules (indeed, club rules) of sculpture: the fetishisation of the discipline’s (formerly crucial) skeleton activities; established rites and arcana policed by teacher-sentinels. And then in her early career she found dubious the privilege handed over (as if the history of art needed a lead team) to the manly virtues of heavy metal.
So, Barlow’s looming stacks, her fallen towers, that dog-ate-my-homework look, the follies. What sculptural ideas are being manifested? There may be a hole all the way through, or some of the way through; there may be a continuation of surface treatment, or there may be an interruption – a shard of jammed-in board (suggesting orbital collapse); there may be two similar large items, one arranged vertically, one horizontally; there might be a boxy wrapped eyrie affair suggesting a post from which other operations have been directed. The feeling may arise that much of a sculpture could be missing – that it is performing as a synecdoche. One thinks of grammar straining to make certain meanings take shape. The titles are clues here: little or no syntax. Fist, Split, Peninsula, Fence, Anvil, Double Act, Red/Brown, Stint, Swamp – barely operational namers with enough tow in them to indicate the sculptures’ level of commitment to identity and purpose. The range of recognitions works like this too: there are columns, abutments, escarpments, bunkers, walls, towers, cairns… Or even lower: blocks, hunks, slabs, bundles, bunches… Topsides are rigged, battened and weatherproofed. Paint is used to give a layer of qualification to surfaces.
But of course none of this is true. These are similes, conveniences, lies. Each of Barlow’s sculptures is in fact a unitary monument to permanence.
In astrophysics, there is no point of absolute rest in the universe from which to gauge speed. The speed of light, C, is the only absolute measure and it never changes in relation to any other movement. At C, no distance is travelled because space is rendered as zero. This is relevant because Barlow’s art allows of no absolute measure of scale. If something has no use, not even a persuasively usable reference, its scale is unknowable. The big sculptures are only big in relation to the small ones or the room or the people. Otherwise, they all have unknowable scale or the same scale or indeed zero scale. This insight is worked through a range of proofs: any apparent instability, structural failure or collapse is illusory: they all occur at the same point of stability (in relation to a non-existent absolute stability). Same with any appearance of verticality or horizontality, monumentality or ruination, sturdiness or fragility, temporariness or permanence. They hog the whole dial.
Since this is true, they might have been made from pretty much anything, to any standard of durability, and have invested in them any level of sincerity, authenticity or irreplaceability. (Same, come to that, with their place on a scale of professional worth, and with all this business of being a public artist, a commercial proposition…). But of course these sculptures are not made of just anything. They are not just called anything (titles like Gaffe or Knucklehead, for instance, would force the wrong sort of error). They are the manifestation of a service performed for us: our lesson in precision.

© FStapleton, 2010
for Phyllida Barlow's exhibition Swamp at V22, summer 2010

Cut n paste LINK

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player