Rauschenberg at Tate Modern, London

Robert Rauschenberg Sculpture

Robert Rauschenberg Installation View. Photograph courtesy Tate Photography
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York

The first time I saw the film Casablanca, I must have been about twenty years old. I was sitting in my grimy student flat watching it on an old computer with my friend, when they turned to me part way through and said something strange. The film was incredible, they acknowledged, but the dialogue was making them cringe. Casablanca of course is now, and probably forever will be, famous for its incredible wealth of iconic lines. From Rick’s sad lament about ‘all the gin joints in town’ to perhaps the zenith of the picture’s dialogue as he and Ilsa say goodbye at the airport, it is responsible for some of the most memorable exchanges and suave one-liners of any film in history. But in reality, my friend wasn’t really commenting on the dialogue in Casablanca as much as the subsequent dialogue around the film. So much of it has become fodder for parody, imitation or even just general praise that even its most ground breaking moments have become over-worn clichés for many, making it hard to encounter the original film without a lot of distracting baggage. It begs the question, how does one say something interesting, original or relevant about work which has long been established as part of the canon? Continue reading

Irina Korina at Gallery for Russian Arts and Design, London

Destined to be Happy Sculpture

Copyright Irina Korina taken from ‘Destined to be Happy’ installation shot, GRAD 2016.

Destined to Be Happy is a new site-specific installation by Russian artist Irina Korina that deliberately forgoes a specific narrative or reading in favour of a host of dynamic and evolving associations. Entering the gallery through a side alley, the viewer moves through a dark tunnel which then opens out into a kind of maze, framed by curved corrugated steel panels and burnt out trees. Silver confetti is scattered across the wooden floor of the space while industrial plastic, occasionally bowed under by pockets of water, frames the ceiling. The walls are also draped in plastic, giving the space the strange aura of a construction site, perhaps a half finished retail space. The most visually striking element of the exhibition is the six large figures assembled atop the protruding legs of mannequin dummies, identified in the exhibition text as The Globe, The Tear Drop, The Fire, The Heart, The Rainbow and The Meteorite. A soundscape composed by Sergey Kasich adds an ominously shifting sonic palette to the installation, where elements slowly merge into one another, thereby blurring the line between fragments of identifiable found sound and digital abstractions. Continue reading

Landlords are not currently collecting rent in self-love

sculpture

Installation View, 2016.

In the 1993 film, Falling Down, Michael Douglas plays an engineer who suffers a psychotic breakdown while stuck in traffic trying to get to his daughter’s birthday party. He abandons his car on the freeway and proceeds to stalk through Los Angeles on foot, trying desperately to “go home,” while steadily encountering the flotsam and jetsam of the early 90’s recession years on the American West Coast. Among other things, the film is a meditation on crisis, the postulation of a society in decline. Continue reading

In Review: William Kentridge – Thick Time

Sculpture

The Refusal of Time with collaboration of Philip Miller, Catherine Meyburgh and Peter Galison Film Still, 2012. 5-channel video projection, colour, sound, megaphones, breathing machine 30 minutes Courtesy William Kentridge, Marian Goodman Gallery, Goodman Gallery and Lia Rumma Gallery

William Kentridge is an inescapably South African artist, born in Johannesburg in 1955 during the apartheid era. His parents, both attorneys, represented some of those marginalised by the racist regime of segregation implemented by the National Party in 1948, and finally defeated in 1994 with the election of celebrated African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela as President. This history casts a long shadow over his work, as it does with so many other facets of life in South Africa, and commentators have pointed out that a broad understand of the nation’s complicated (and often traumatic) history is something of a prerequisite for understanding much of his practice.  Continue reading

Sorrow and Mirth, Ragnar Kjartansson at Barbican London

Ragnar Kjartansson Sculpture

Ragnar Kjartansson, Exhibition installation view, Barbican Art Gallery. 14 July – 4 September 2016. © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine New York and i8 gallery Reykjavik

The Visitors (2012) is a nine-screen multi-channel video installation by Ragnar Kjartansson, filmed across multiple rooms in a two-hundred year old villa on the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York. Featuring the artist himself playing acoustic guitar and singing in a bathtub, alongside a cast of musicians from Iceland’s tight-knit music scene, the collective performs a haunting piece of what Kjartansson calls “feminine nihilistic gospel.” The music slowly dips and wanes, equal parts evocative cacophony and barely audible whisper.  In 2015, the work was exhibited at Brewer Street Car Park, a space curated by The Vinyl Factory in London’s Soho district, and was critically acclaimed as one of the year’s exhibition highlights. Continue reading

Kirill Savchenkov’s Museum of Skateboarding

Kirill Savchenkov Sculpture

Kirill Savchenkov, Museum of Skateboarding, Video Still

Kirill Savchenkov is a Russian multi-disciplinary artist, currently based in Moscow. His project Museum of Skateboarding was initially completed in 2015 and presented as part of “Expanding Space. Artistic Practice in the Urban Environment” at GES-2, V-A-C Foundation in Moscow. Recently Savchenkov’s project was newly commissioned as part of Calvert 22’s ambitious four-part series Power and Architecture, which ran from 12 June – 09 October this year. Continue reading

‘La trahison des objets’

Barbie Sculpture

Barbie’s evolution style (Collectors edition) © Mattel Inc. La storia di Barbie, qui in uno scatto per la linea Collectors, dal modello Teen Age Fashion Model Barbie Doll (1959) fino alla Hard Rock Cafe #2 Barbie. (2004)

I was recently asked to write about an exhibition here in London entitled ‘The Science of Imaginary Solutions’ at a gallery called Breese Little.[1] Central to the work on show was the way that object-led narratives are malleable, prone to the changing modes of thinking across multiple disciplines from science to philosophy, archelogy to sociology and so on. We recognise the power of objects to act as both placeholders and objects in themselves, and the myriad ways in which we can ‘read’ them and extrapolate upon different ideas and conceptions of the world. Continue reading