The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

20130622-094439.jpg

Cyberman with Gargoyle
Cyberman Helmet, 1985, Courtesy Chris Balcombe, Photo: Chris Balcombe
Singing Gargoyle, England, c. 1200, Courtesy of Sam Fogg, London

Curated by Mark Leckey

Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey has curated an exhibition that explores the magical world of new technology, as well as tracing its connections to the beliefs of our distant past.

Historical and contemporary works of art, videos, machines, archaeological artefacts and iconic objects, like the giant inflatable cartoon figure of Felix the Cat – the first image ever transmitted on TV – inhabit an “enchanted landscape” created in the Pavilion’s galleries, where objects seem to be communicating with each other and with us.

In Leckey’s exhibition “magic is literally in the air.” It reflects on a world where technology can bring inanimate “things” to life. Where websites predict what we want, we can ask our mobile phones for directions and smart fridges suggest recipes, count calories and even switch on the oven. By digitising objects, it can also make them “disappear” from the material world, re-emerging in any place or era.

In this timeless exhibition, “the real and the virtual co-exist”, Leckey has said. Perhaps technology has created its own form of consciousness – an animistic future. While we already live in the realms of what used to be science fiction, we seem to have simultaneously gone back to our ancestral past – a time when ancient civilisations believed spirits inhabited plants, animals, geographic features and even objects.

Leckey’s theatre of “things” is presented in specially designed environments. Works by artists such as William Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Martin Creed, Richard Hamilton, Nicola Hicks, Jim Shaw and Tøyen are displayed alongside a medieval silver hand containing the bones of a saint, an electronic prosthetic hand that connects with Bluetooth, a bisected 3D model of Snoopy showing his internal organs, and many other treasures that all share connections. Loosely divided into four themes or scenes – the Vegetable World, Animal Kingdom, Mankind and the Technological Domain, Leckey’s exhibition is a collection of not-so-dumb things that all talk, literally or metaphorically, to each other.

Mark Leckey was born in Birkenhead in 1964. He currently teaches at Goldsmiths College, University of London. In 2008 he won the Turner Prize. Recent solo exhibitions include Work & Leisure at Manchester Art Gallery (2012), and See We Assemble at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2011). The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things is the latest in a series of artist-curated Hayward Touring exhibitions.

‘The status of objects’, Leckey argues, ‘is changing, and we are once again in thrall to an enchanted world full of transformations and correspondences, a wonderful instability between things animate and inanimate, animal and human, mental and material’. Our hyper-rationalism of modern technology has paradoxically produced its opposite, an ‘irrational’ magical realm – or as Marshall McLuhan, communication theorist, described “a resonating world akin to the old tribal echo chamber where magic will live again”.

A Hayward Touring exhibition from Southbank Centre, London

20130622-094236.jpg

Woofer Design by Sander Mulder
© Sander Mulder

De La Warr Pavilion
Marina
Bexhill On Sea
East Sussex
TN40 1DP
Box Office and information:
01424 229 111 or boxoffice@dlwp.com

Sat 13 Jul 2013-
Sun 20 Oct 2013
Tickets: Free entry

Booking & Information:
01424 229 111

///

Making It Up: Photographic Fictions

Making It Up: Photographic Fictions

20130507-161827.jpg

Untitled – May 1997, Hannah Starkey, 1997, Museum no. E.491-1998. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Hannah Starkey

3 May 2013 – 12 January 2014
Room 38A
Free admission

Photography is widely associated with truthfulness yet it has also been employed throughout its history as a means of telling stories and evoking the imaginary. This display includes photographs by some of the most influential contemporary artists working in this vein, such as Gregory Crewdson, Duane Michals and Cindy Sherman, alongside examples by 19th-century practitioners including Julia Margaret Cameron, Clementina Lady Hawarden and Oscar Gustav Rejlander.

About displays
Complementing our permanent collections, there are many free temporary displays around the V&A. They range in size from a single case to a room.

///

Review by Susan Steward in the Evening Standard:

The photographs selected for this exhibition are drawn from the vast V&A archives, images from the 1850s to 1870s to today’s contemporaries. Some are paired across time, others stand alone, but all are engaged in detailed conversations and stories plotted for costumed actors by the photographers. Cindy Sherman greets the exhibition, an appropriate exemplar of many alter egos and photographic fictions, here presented as a Fifties or Sixties Hollywood actress.

The earliest works inevitably include the young 19th-century daughters of Julia Margaret Cameron and children of friends of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), all carefully choreographed into familiar poses, but the lesser-known Clementina Hawarden’s girls pose like young lovers, one cross-dressed and with more edge. They complement Hannah Starkey’s colourful cinematic scene of two 21st-century students sprawled on a party sofa. A lone, anonymous and calmly poignant 1850s scene is set outside a chapel where a mournful Bride of Christ in her wedding dress is seated alongside a young nun, a story loaded with emotion but with its religious detail unexplained.

As we see, theatrical narrative serves different purposes beyond pleasure. Many 19th-century painters used it as models for their work, as with SR Percy’s staged gypsy girls in a country scene. For the Chinese photographer Wang Quigsong, Night Revels of Lao Li imitates traditional scroll paintings working the vignette sequences like a story-board.

The museum’s two recent acquisitions fit into these fictions, with William Henry Price’s portrait of Don Quixote and the contemporary German, Jan Wenzel building complex stories through photo-booth snaps.

The silent dialogues behind the frames are an irresistible lure to viewers following the made-up tales.

Until Jan 12 (020 7907 7073, vam.ac.uk)

///

Fucking, Holes in Venice

Fucking, Holes in Venice

///

Fucking, Holes in Venice

///

///

///

///

///

///

///

///

///

What?

My Breath is Inside You and  Fucking Holes in Venice are non-collaborative photographic/performance work by SUTURE. It becomes a part of a series of exhibitions including “Scrapping the Barrel” and “Clutching at Straws.”

The ‘Spaniel’ phase has yet to be completed but may be nearing it’s final convulsions.

SEE: http://suturesuture.wordpress.com for more.

///

David Hammons performing ‘Bliz-aard Ball Sale’

20121231-170511.jpg

David Hammons performing ‘Bliz-aard Ball Sale’ (1983), Cooper Square, New York City
Courtesy Migros Museum, Zurich © David Hammons. Photo: Dawood Bey

From An Interview with David Hammons:

1. I CAN’T STAND ART ACTUALLY. I’VE NEVER, EVER LIKED ART, EVER. I NEVER TOOK IT IN SCHOOL.

2. WHEN I WAS IN CALIFORNIA, ARTISTS WOULD WORK FOR YEARS AND NEVER HAVE A SHOW. SO SHOWING HAS NEVER BEEN THAT IMPORTANT TO ME. WE USED TO CUSS PEOPLE OUT: PEOPLE WHO BOUGHT OUR WORK, DEALERS, ETC., BECAUSE THAT PART OF BEING AN ARTIST WAS ALWAYS A JOKE TO US.

WHEN I CAME TO NEW YORK, I DIDN’T SEE ANY OF THAT. EVERYBODY WAS JUST GROVELING AND TOMMING, ANYTHING TO BE IN THE ROOM WITH SOMEBODY WITH SOME MONEY. THERE WERE NO BAD GUYS HERE; SO I SAID, “LET ME BE A BAD GUY,” OR ATTEMPT TO BE A BAD GUY, OR PLAY WITH THE BAD AREAS AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

3. I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY BLACK PEOPLE WERE CALLED SPADES, AS OPPOSED TO CLUBS. BECAUSE I REMEMBER BEING CALLED A SPADE ONCE, AND I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANT; NIGGER I KNEW BUT SPADE I STILL DON’T. SO I TOOK THE SHAPE, AND STARTED PAINTING IT.

4. I JUST LOVE THE HOUSES IN THE SOUTH, THE WAY THEY BUILT THEM. THAT NEGRITUDE ARCHITECTURE. I REALLY LOVE TO WATCH THE WAY BLACK PEOPLE MAKE THINGS, HOUSES OR MAGAZINE STANDS IN HARLEM, FOR INSTANCE. JUST THE WAY WE USE CARPENTRY. NOTHING FITS, BUT EVERYTHING WORKS. THE DOOR CLOSES, IT KEEPS THINGS FROM COMING THROUGH. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE THAT NEATNESS ABOUT IT, THE WAY WHITE PEOPLE PUT THINGS TOGETHER; EVERYTHING IS A THIRTY-SECOND OF AN INCH OFF.

5. THAT’S WHY I LIKE DOING STUFF BETTER ON THE STREET, BECAUSE THE ART BECOMES JUST ONE OF THE OBJECTS THAT’S IN THE PATH OF YOUR EVERYDAY EXISTENCE. IT’S WHAT YOU MOVE THROUGH, AND IT DOESN’T HAVE ANY SENIORITY OVER ANYTHING ELSE.

THOSE PIECES WERE ALL ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT THE BLACK VIEWER HAD A REFLECTION OF HIMSELF IN THE WORK. WHITE VIEWERS HAVE TO LOOK AT SOMEONE ELSE’S CULTURE IN THOSE PIECES AND SEE VERY LITTLE OF THEMSELVES IN IT.

6. ANYONE WHO DECIDES TO BE AN ARTIST SHOULD REALIZE THAT IT’S A POVERTY TRIP. TO GO INTO THIS PROFESSION IS LIKE GOING INTO THE MONASTERY OR SOMETHING; IT’S A VOW OF POVERTY I ALWAYS THOUGHT. TO BE AN ARTIST AND NOT EVEN TO DEAL WITH THAT POVERTY THING, THAT’S A WASTE OF TIME; OR TO BE AROUND PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT THAT.

MY KEY IS TO TAKE AS MUCH MONEY HOME AS POSSIBLE. ABANDON ANY ART FORM THAT COSTS TOO MUCH. INSIST THAT IT’S AS CHEAP AS POSSIBLE IS NUMBER ONE AND ALSO THAT IT’S AESTHETICALLY CORRECT. AFTER THAT ANYTHING GOES. AND THAT KEEPS EVERYTHING INTERESTING FOR ME.

7. I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY WORK IS. I HAVE TO WAIT TO HEAR THAT FROM SOMEONE.

I WOULD LIKE TO BURN THE PIECE. I THINK THAT WOULD BE NICE VISUALLY. VIDEOTAPE THE BURNING OF IT. AND SHOOT SOME SLIDES. THE SLIDES WOULD THEN BE A PIECE IN ITSELF. I’M GETTING INTO THAT NOW: THE SLIDES ARE THE ART PIECES AND THE ART PIECES DON’T EXIST.

8. IF YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE THEN IT’S EASY TO MAKE ART. MOST PEOPLE ARE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR IMAGE. ARTISTS HAVE ALLOWED THEMSELVES TO BE BOXED IN BY SAYING “YES” ALL THE TIME BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE SEEN, AND THEY SHOULD BE SAYING “NO.” I DO MY STREET ART MAINLY TO KEEP ROOTED IN THAT “WHO I AM.” BECAUSE THE ONLY THING THAT’S REALLY GOING ON IS IN THE STREET; THAT’S WHERE SOMETHING IS REALLY HAPPENING. IT ISN’T HAPPENING IN THESE GALLERIES.

9. DOING THINGS IN THE STREET IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ART I THINK. BECAUSE ART HAS GOTTEN SO….I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK ART IS ABOUT NOW. IT DOESN’T DO ANYTHING. LIKE MALCOLM X SAID, IT’S LIKE NOVOCAINE. IT USED TO WAKE YOU UP BUT NOW IT PUTS YOU TO SLEEP. I THINK THAT ART NOW IS PUTTING PEOPLE TO SLEEP. THERE’S SO MUCH OF IT AROUND IN THIS TOWN THAT IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. THAT’S WHY THE ARTIST HAS TO BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT HE SHOWS AND WHEN HE SHOWS NOW. BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AREN’T REALLY LOOKING AT ART, THEY’RE LOOKING AT EACH OTHER AND EACH OTHER’S CLOTHES AND EACH OTHER’S HAIRCUTS.

10. THE ART AUDIENCE IS THE WORST AUDIENCE IN THE WORLD. IT’S OVERLY EDUCATED, IT’S CONSERVATIVE, IT’S OUT TO CRITICIZE NOT TO UNDERSTAND, AND IT NEVER HAS ANY FUN. WHY SHOULD I SPEND MY TIME PLAYING TO THAT AUDIENCE?

DAVID HAMMONS 1986

20121231-170550.jpg