Magazine article Art Monthly

Right-On, Write-Off

Magazine article Art Monthly

Right-On, Write-Off

Article excerpt

Right-On, Write-Off Chapman Fine Arts London June 11 to July 16

What the hell am I doing here? I'm standing on Fashion Street in east London on a hot summer's day, half-cut on 'luxury' cider (it's the only thing to drink, I promise), watching Mark McGowan gaffer tape a Japanese jockey to a lamp post. If that isn't enough, the theme-tune from 70s TV show 'Black Beauty' booms out while McGowan force-feeds another man homemade horse stew. Are we experiencing a circus sideshow or a ritualistic exercise in humiliation? Well known for his self-styled role as the art world's official dunce (one of his earliest performances involved him standing in the corner of a gallery with a pointed cap on), McGowan's action is actually an exorcism designed to release its victim from an acute gambling addiction. With the performers adorned with cardboard masks, there's an uncomfortable quality to this 'Beuysian' shamanistic healing process. Despite this, questions around the possibility of gauging a right kind of 'wrongness' in art, or the process of deliberately and unambiguously 'not getting things right', turned out to be the central theme of 'Right-On, Write-Off', the exhibition to which this performance provided one of an opening series of events.

Curated by Irene Bradbury, JJ Charlesworth, Mustafa Hulusi and Soraya Rodriguez, it is interesting to see how successful this enterprise actually was at being productively 'incorrect'. Spread over the three storeys of Jake Chapman's David Adjaye designed gallery, the exhibition was packed with awkward works that represented the artists as much the different identities of its curators.

Mark Boulos's video Jerusalem, 2004, featured footage of Abu Hamza's meetings in north London, and was shown in the entrance gallery, but looked slightly too 'unambiguous' to really go anywhere, while Eva Weinmayr's 5 Minute Performances, 2002, situated on the first floor staircase, appeared deliberately juvenile and naive. The artist holds up on a pole various coloured squares the same tone as the background of shop hoardings to alter their reading (in Tottenham Court Road, London, 'Eat' becomes 'Fat', etc). Similar to McGowan's performances, it provides a humorous reaction to more serious forms of critique, and as an infantile joke that directly attacks a variety of corporations, it paradoxically deals with 'serious' subject matter quite effectively.

Hulusi broke all the rules of curatorial etiquette and presented his own work in the exhibition, which included two abstract paintings, Monochrome (Black) and Monochrome (White), both of 2006. The central motif in each painting collapses into a vanishing point and references the artist's massive billboard posters, or the sites he uses in east London to paste up images of his own name. In opposition to Weinmayr's attack on corporate identity, Hulusi embraces advertising to take self-promotion and artistic vanity to a ridiculous level. A similar kind of star-powered vertigo appeared in David Noonan's large, dark, quasi-religious acid-fried prints. One collaged silkscreen shows a portrait of a man with a fireworks burst for an eye. Situated on a dark ground, its warped cult-like nature made me feel as if I was experiencing another more twisted and unpredictable world.

Doug Fishbone included It's Not You, It's Me/Promo, 2006, a collaborative work with Catharine Patha, which mimicked promotional charity videos to produce a reflection on current political rhetoric. …

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