Joanne Tatham and Tom O'sullivan: Galerie Rudiger Schottle

By Smolik, Noemi | Artforum International, February 2008 | Go to article overview

Joanne Tatham and Tom O'sullivan: Galerie Rudiger Schottle


Smolik, Noemi, Artforum International


What presents itself as meaningful is not always so; and what at first seems meaningless can be deeply significant. "Lead Rhetoric & Other Category Errors," the meaning-laden title of this exhibition by Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan, who live in Glasgow and have been collaborating since 1995, already hinted at this contradiction. But what rhetoric was at work here, and what errors were in question? The rhetoric was that of Minimalism, and sometimes of Land art. Using the same form in various contexts, the artists might place a large cube in a landscape, or a smaller one in a museum on a pedestal under glass; they call this recurring object, which is decorated with a diamond pattern in black and pink, "Think Thingamajig"--a phrase they've been using since 2003. Things get even stranger when, in Think, Think Thingamajig, Think, 2005, a meticulous black-and-white drawing, a human figure in top hat and tails "wears" a diamond-patterned cube. Pure geometric form in body-specific application--a minimalist contradiction? More like parody.

The diamond pattern in black and pink appeared again on the long wall of one of the two gallery spaces in Munich, interrupted by circles; this wallpaper, Untitled, 2007, served as a background for small framed drawings hung in a careful row. In these pictures the comical figure reappeared; We are seemingly feeling the meaning, 2007, presents two of these figures gathering mushrooms, which they offer to a pyramid that has the kind of dumb, frowning face a child might draw. Your way into it is our way out of it, 2007, shows two top-hatted figures in front of the entrance of a head-shaped labyrinth. The rest of the space was filled with gigantic brown letters cut out of wood. After a little effort, their meaning became clear: LEAD RHETORIC.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The diamond-pattern wallpaper repeated itself in the next space, again on the longer wall. …

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