Red Handed

 

So, we all know what a picture is, right? Or at least we think we know; one of the best definitions comes from Sherrie Levine who describes it as ‘a space in which a variety of images, none of them original, blend and clash.’ Here, a picture is seen as a combination of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture. This show is intended to encompass Levine’s definition and highlight artists re-examining, responding to or in some way encompassing ideas about the art world in their work. They are tracing narratives of transformation, and underscoring the myriad of ways in which artworks are evaluated and how objects are embedded in our cultural history. The whirring and beeping of Nathaniel Faulkner’s sound work is mimicking that of an IBM server, an object that probably exists in every company building in the world, from art galleries to offices, Tate to BP. It greets you into the slightly sparse environment where four light switches are displayed. Flicking a switch turns on, and then off again, each work in the show.

 

Eva and Franco Mattes have restaged Vito Acconci’s ‘Seedbed’, and other historical performances, inside videogames as an attempt to reinvigorated these significant pieces, freeing them from dependency on the art institution. This leads them to present this work in a context where these issues of the body, sexuality, identity, and the environment and public space, acquire a completely different meaning. As a consequence the original energy of the performance, and its power to provoke, dissipates, or turns into something completely different. This draws a parallel with Lawrence Lek’s ‘Unreal Estate (The Royal Academy Is Yours)’ which takes you round a 3D animated virtual environment in which London’s Royal Academy of Arts has been sold off as a luxury playboy mansion to an anonymous Chinese billionaire. This virtual Royal Academy, as metaphor for the art world, makes you acutely aware of how successive historical articulations of power and desire can converge in one space. The building, in this context, makes the fantasy of total ownership and real prestige both accessible and understandable. A particular building is also the subject of John Kannenberg’s ‘A Sound Map of Tate Modern: Montage (for wobbly ventilators)’. As the title suggests Kannenberg has created a sound map of Tate Modern through walking over the vents in the establishment. The loose pieces of metal expose some of the cracks in the paint of the once perfect white cube, but ones nobody really notices or minds because they've been there forever or are essential components of the space. This activity, walking on the vents, also allows the viewer a little insight into his personality; he is an audible presence or character within the maps, performing his own auditory relationship with each space as opposed to detaching himself from the recording. When it comes to creating a character Max Hollands has used himself to created a comedic persona of what appears to be a less than happy art student, until he exchanges his art theory books for everyone’s favourite cartoon beagle, Snoopy. Hollands can be seen to be rather confused by John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ and Marcel Duchamp’s ‘The Afternoon Interviews’, perhaps attempting to debunk the notion that all art students have a battered copy of Ulysses on their shelf and try to quote Nietzsche at least twice a day. In addition, the Snoopy reference is definitely no coincidence; Snoopy's whole personality is a little bittersweet. But he's a very strong character. Similar to an art student attempting to cram their head full of academic literature, he can win or lose, be a disaster, a hero, or anything, and yet it all works out.

Curated by Sid and Jim