My latest column for Sluice magazine.
Tag: doing it wrong
Occasionally it seems there might be some kind of counter-performance art organisation, one that actively does everything it can to bring performance art into disrepute. A bit like SPECTRE from the James Bond books and films. As suggested by their acronym Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, SPECTRE mainly just wants to instigate conflict and benefit from the chaos that ensues. I propose that there is a secret organisation called SPESPA (Special Executive for Shit Performance Art) and it exists solely to make the general public think all performance artists are twats.
This week’s covert SPESPA operative bent upon ruining live art’s reputation is Chinese performance artist (and “former television presenter”, which gives you some idea of his likely intellect) Ou Zihang, who has been doing push-ups in the nude at the sites of recent terrorist attacks in Paris. No surprise that he’s a fellow traveller of…
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Via artist Mimei Thompson on the F***book, news of a property developer soon to be bulldozing over a hundred artist studios near Hackney Road in London. They’ll be replaced by a twenty storey tower with “workspace” (whatever that is) and 170 homes including “a number of affordable”. Britain’s cities and towns desperately need more and better housing accessible to everyone regardless of their income, but we all know what the “number” of affordable units will be: as few as possible, probably with a separate door so the poors don’t rub their poor all over the investment/money laundering boxes of all the Chinese, Russian and Arab one percenters who are just about the only people who can buy these places. Affordable is a laughably– and conveniently– ill-defined and slippery developers’ term anyway.
Don’t worry, though, the loss of this artist community (who stupidly, inconveniently brought life to a rundown area…
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MOMA COMPLETELY BJÖRKS UP
I’ve often compared the art world to the mafia, with their mutual general secrecy, their deliberate cultivation of mystique, and their maintenance of respectable fronts for money laundering and worse. Then there’s the code of silence– certainly we don’t criticise our self-appointed superiors for fear of blackballing, but we should avoid offending our peers too, just in case they’re of use to us later. Whether somebody is of use, of course, being the psychopathic standard by which the most successful artists, curators and gallerists judge each other and everyone else. Most reviews of contemporary art are so bland and uncritical (in every sense of the word) that they could charitably be called reports rather than reviews, if we quite reasonably define a review as a critical assessment. Very often supposed art critics or arts writers seem to be following a prim “if you can’t say anything…
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Yes, it’s back. Even more dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism, this time with a police show-on-VHS-tape twist. Watch new arty farty perps and syntax villains brought to justice every two weeks or so. In this episode, we learn how it’s possible to write four paragraphs and nearly four hundred words about a man who built some walls. But wait… he built some walls in an art gallery that already had walls. Is your mind completely blown?
You can play along with your Artbollocks Bingo card, and you can watch more Artbollocks Theatre here on the blog or on my Vimeo channel. I tried really hard to mispronounce all the foreign words and jargon, but I think I still accidentally said some of them correctly. Sorry about that.
Presented at ISE Cultural Foundation, the site-specific installation Time Would Not…
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On the 23rd December 2014 I received the following image via the e-flux mailing list, that persistent inbox botherer nonetheless much loved by me for reliably delivering sheer gibberish art reviews and spambot-grade gallery press releases for me to make fun of. I have e-flux to thank for much of the nonsense to be featured in the forthcoming third series of Artbollocks Theatre.
On the 24th September 2014, this image was uploaded to my blog. It originally featured in an episode of Artbollocks Theatre, in mockery of an artist who supposedly created “surprisingly deceptive planes.”
Wow, not only plagiarism but inferior plagiarism. Shia LaBeouf-tastic, my e-flux “comrades”! Nice to know you’re such fans of my blog, though. But maybe for her visual gag– such as it is– to work Ms. Lewis could have spent another thirty seconds in Photoshop to make sure…
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NO TALENT? NO PROBLEM!
I’ve illustrated this post with a clown painting that is definitely not from Amazon Art because it would be unfair to single out any one artist as an example of how bad the art [sic] section of Amazon is, due to the fact that all of the art on Amazon is totally shit. I’m sure hardly any of the artists on Amazon Art are serial killers, like Mr. John Wayne Gacy was, but his totally fucked up oeuvre is actually somewhat better and definitely no more disturbing than some of the efforts on sale via Amazon. For example, check out Impressionism… wait, what? These artists are doing the opposite of keeping Impressionism alive; they’re inviting Impressionism into their house and doing a John Wayne Gacy on it. I’m afraid it’s possible to spend upwards of $3o,000 on a painting from Amazon art. I…
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I’ve been saying for years that old projectors and other modernist paraphernalia in art galleries are tropes, affectations, bourgeois set dressing rather than meaningful vehicles for a 21st century artist to express themselves. Here is artist Hito Steyerl’s splendid volley against the practice. She nailed it.
Next time I see another 16mm film projector rattling away in a gallery I will personally kidnap it and take the poor thing to a pensioners home. There is usually no intrinsic reason whatsoever for the use of 16mm film nowadays except for making moving images look pretentious, expensive and vaguely modernist, all prepackaged with a whiff of WASPish art history. It made sense to use Bolexes in 1968, and indeed people used them to brilliant end. But today people use cellphones, Kinnect sensors and After Effects to deal with the present and shape it. And if artists do not expose themselves to…
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The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam is having
an intellectual navel-gazing session and a nice jolly for boring people who work at universities a symposium called Metamodernism at the end of September. Sadly it’s sold out, or was not open to the public in the first place, so we plebs will probably never know what happens when they “draw a cognitive map of our present in order to grasp the changing contours of our everyday lives, towards a paradigmatic shift lived by a generation born in the 1980s’, whatever that means. They’ll be answering a random collection of baffling questions that absolutely nobody ever wanted answered, such as: “What precisely constitutes a historical moment and/or rupture? What defines this generation that was born in the 1980s?” Ooh, I know… is it being in their late twenties to mid thirties, age wise? Do I win something? Oh shit, Francis Fukuyama’s had a…
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Supposedly to tie in with the opening of the Frieze and Gap Art Fair in New York– but really apropos of nothing except “ooh, rich people”– somebody called Jason used their own drool (he also contributes to human-shaped joke Tyler Brulé’s Monocle. QED.) to write out a super-duper tip-top list of “the most powerful people in the art world” for The Guardian.
It’s the usual soul-crushing litany of scumbags, twats, con artists, plutocrats and fuckwits but the real enjoyment is to be found in the torrent of vituperation and scorn in the comments. Read them all because there’s some good stuff about the chasm between this tiny, elite art world and what most real artists do or want to do, and what the public wants from artists. Here’s a few of the best comments, complete with the typos from their authors (rightly) being so angry they couldn’t quite…
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OR: BOHEMIAN LIKE YOU
I know it’s almost cruelly easy to make fun of fashion “journalists” [sic] and the weird, sick, silent contract they have with their readers, i.e. they pretend expensive clothes are really important and worth talking about on a weekly or even a daily basis, while their readers pretend not to notice that media coverage of fashion bears little relationship to reality. Or rather, its relationship is abusive and codependent, like Carrie’s mother in the Stephen King horror story.
Sometimes cruelty is fun, though, especially when it’s easy. Thanks to (non-bearded and lacking an £820 Dries Van Noten coat) artist Emily Speed drawing attention to it, we can all point and laugh at what I suspect the perpetrator might call a “fashion story” about taking “inspiration from the distinctive layered-up uniform of the artist, one that is splashed with paint splatters, and is an eclectic mix…
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Another week, another bland generic online front end for a vaguely defined art business. This week’s example has been (ab)using Kickstarter and getting up to various monkey business with artists’ work. Sadly this is par for the course but what’s unusual here is that artist Luke Turner has not taken it lying down, which far too many people still do. He’s posted the whole saga of their request to make fifty postcards– which he granted– that somehow turned into large prints of his work being offered to their Kickstarter backers, without his knowledge or consent. He only found out some portion of the truth from a concerned third party, as is also very common. You all know I like my informants here on Career Suicide.
Be sure to read the whole email exchange between Turner and one of the “girls” [sic; their dodgy descripition of themselves, not mine] from…
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This week it was revealed that British MPs have recently spent £250,000 of tax payers’ money on commissioning paintings of themselves. Not just the usual fat Tory pigs either, but also old school lefties like Tony Benn who might be hoped and expected to know better, and to guess how badly it would sit with the public and the media when it inevitably came out. Unlike many of the people who’ve already held forth on this subject, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong or absurd about a politician commissioning an artist to paint their portrait. We all know artists need all the work they can get, too. Also unlike many commentators who were frankly just showing their ignorance, I’m not going to express incredulity that a portrait of Diane Abbott (for example) cost £11, 750. That’s how much a commissioned painting costs. At least. As Whistler famously said during…
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OK you guys, I’m sorry but I may not be writing this blog for much longer because OMFG CAN’T BREATHE I’ve just been spotted by a talent scout! YO I GOT A GOLD LINK BITCHES. I’m getting exposure from just thinking about it…
*Taken to minor injuries unit, sedated and given oxygen*
(TWO HOURS LATER)
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This horrifically kitsch and perfectly ghastly painting was commissioned by the Danish royal family from the artist Thomas Kluge in the past few years and completed recently. It was not commissioned from some hack illustrator in 1979 for the cover of a bad horror novel, as its dated and creepy style might suggest. It’s just so ugly. Even Rolf Harris is a better painter of royal parasites, and he’s appalling. They claim:
“Stylistically, Kluge’s art can be characterized as a kind of magic realism, and while making obvious art historical references he is also a significant postmodern innovator. In his works the precise depiction of humans and objects known from reality forms part of a universe which challenges the interpretations of the spectator, as they encompass something other and deeper than immediate, accurate likeness.”
Other? I’ll say. Other, perhaps, in the sense that Prince Christian doesn’t look “upright and…
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DO YOU LIKE EVENING CLASSES, TATLER, WILD CLAIMS, SPENDING MONEY AND BEING TREATED LIKE A BATTERY CHICKEN? IT’S YOUR LUCKY DAY
Thanks to several informants (who didn’t know about any of the other people who simultaneously tipped me off) I’ve become aware that my dear old friends, the vanity artist farmers Debut Contemporary, have been trawling for fat new wallets. Market Project is currently on hiatus and not being updated, but you can read my original article about Debut Contemporary there, plus hundreds of comments including damning– and in a few cases, somewhat heartbreaking if not harrowing– testimony from former clients of theirs. You can also read sock puppet comments from their cronies, and see documentation of failed attempts by these cronies to secretly defame me and my colleagues for criticising them.
I’ll get to Debut Con’s hilarious “information catalogue” for artists anon, but firstly here’s what was spammed…
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Following her recent ouroboros of star-fuckery with Jay-Z at his minstrel show for New York city’s art royalty, insufferable has-been and exploiter/abuser of low paid performers at LA MOCA Marina Abramović (brilliantly and succinctly demolished by Hrag Vartanian in this article as “the art world’s version of late Elvis”) has recently engaged in another act of “Abramović Method” mirror-in-mirror narcissism with the prolifically untalented Lady Gaga. The original video is absolutely bloody ghastly and evokes every bad undergraduate performance art piece ever made, but luckily somebody jazzed it up a bit with a Yakety Sax soundtrack. Much better.
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.
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…
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Via Artquest, who themselves wryly and slyly editorialise that it’s “a load of bollards”, another fine opportunity to work for nothing and to create a hideous public eyesore courtesy of Lambeth council:
“We are removing hundreds of metal bollards from our streets in London Borough of Lambeth as a de-cluttering exercise. In the current batch of works, the number would be close to a thousand, and we will be removing many more in near future. These will be recycled by our highways contractor, unless we find a better use for them.
‘If anyone would like to use these bollards for some public art / sculpture, they would be more than welcome to have them for free, but we would like the artwork to be installed in Lambeth. If someone can come up with an idea for their use in public furniture, such as seating, planters, etc. then it would…
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On the frame of Edvard Munch’s 1895 version of his iconic Skrik (AKA The Scream or Der Schrei der Natur), the artist wrote:
I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.
Now, what does this art work and description bring to mind? Expressionism in perhaps its rawest, most personal and most affecting form? The visual expression of an individual and a societal existential crisis? The anguish of a man who suffered great loss in his life, while trying (and sometimes failing) to master his own bouts of mental illness? A freak out, the beginning of…
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