Magazine article Artforum International

Stephan Dillemuth and Nils Norman: Vilma Gold

Magazine article Artforum International

Stephan Dillemuth and Nils Norman: Vilma Gold

Article excerpt

As the video I'm Short, Your House, 2007, closes, a voice tells us that today, "Not only do works of art end up as commodities, but there is also an overwhelming sense in which works of art start off as commodities." The quote is from the Australian conceptual artist Ian Burn, but on-screen, the source of the voice seems to be a shadow in the shape of an animal head, made by a hand. Stephan Dillemuth and Nils Norman use simple means to create a caricatured realm akin to Karl Marx's "inverted world where Mr. Capital and Madame Real Estate dance their macabre dance." The setting of the video is the art-world stage: The jackal-like shadow, which appears throughout the piece, is silhouetted against the pavement in a rapidly gentrifying section of East London, until recently one of the city's poorest areas, where many galleries--including Vilma Gold--are currently clustered. In repeated sequences a menacing hunchback sporting a long fake nose frenetically stalks the same Hackney streets as if on some infernal mission, seeming to embody what David Harvey describes as capital's incessant need to secure a new "spatial fix." In another sequence an artist type, again wearing a long nose, reclines on a discarded bed in a derelict lot, speaking to a dealer on his cell phone. Though their conversation is not entirely audible we hear fragments such as "Blah-blah.... Fantastic!... Blah-blah-blah.... See you in Basel," accompanied by the music from Luchino Visconti's 1969 film La Caduta degli dei (The Damned), a melodrama about German industrialists who cooperated with the Nazis.

Made in collaboration with writer Anthony Davies, I'm Short, Your House was the focal point of Dillemuth and Norman's exhibition "A Mysterious Thing," which also included FA Lores, The Final Artist, 2007, a sculpted figure resembling the aforementioned artist character as well as an untitled sound recording of recited definitions of many financial terms used in the video, emanating from the gallery's external intercom system. These same definitions were projected in an LED-like font over the entrance to the darkened screening space, running across a roughly modeled, oversize turret that crowned a door frame, both constructed by the artists. …

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