Magazine article Art Monthly

Getting Even: Oppositions + Dialogues in Contemporary Art

Magazine article Art Monthly

Getting Even: Oppositions + Dialogues in Contemporary Art

Article excerpt

Getting Even: Oppositions +

Dialogues in Contemporary Art

Lewis Glucksman Gallery Cork

November 14 to March 1

'Getting Even' is curated by Matt Packer and Rene Zechlin at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, a purpose-built art space on the campus of University College Cork. In May 2009 the show will tour in a somewhat different form to the Kunstverein Hannover, where Zechlin has recently taken up the post of director. The current exhibition is similar in scale and historical scope to an earlier curatorial collaboration between Packer and Zechlin, entitled 'Overtake: The Reinterpretation of Modern Art', which explored linkages between contemporary practice and the 1960s through the lens of appropriation. But rather than asserting any coherent art historical lineage, 'Getting Even' tends instead to highlight fragmentation and fracture. The inclusion of several works by Stephen Willats, drawn from different decades, is significant in this respect. In Can Two Views Ever Really Co-Exist, 1983, Willats employs crude mixed-media collage, combining text, photographs and found objects to articulate the experience of social housing from the perspective of a young female resident. By contrast, Organic Exercise No. 1, Series 2, dating from 1962 and remade specially for this exhibition, could be said to mimic the aesthetics of Minimalism. It consists of 48 pale plaster bricks placed on a gridded plinth, which viewers are invited to rearrange on the basis that these elements will be 'reset' every morning. Bricks also appear in several other works: they anchor the poles used to display Alex Morrison's political banners and are thinly disguised as books in Claire Fontaine's French/Arabic Brickbats, 2007, where they are wrapped in garish printed covers with titles such as Les Grands Signes de la Fin du Monde, referencing ideas about divinity and the after-life derived from Arabic thought.

A third piece by Willats, an interactive computer simulation requiring two participants entitled Freezone Year!, 1997, is also being remade and will be included in the Glucksman exhibition over the coming weeks. This addition may tip the current balance between works that invite interactions in the gallery and those that explore oppositions or dialogues in other times and places. Morrison's banners and Nathan Coley's Untitled (Barricade Sculpture), 2008, both fall into the latter category, evoking generic rather than specific incidences of political protest. Other works are more ambiguous; Jens Ullrich's Plakate (placard), 2006-07, consists of 30 photographs of protesters, digitally altered so that each placard now bears an abstract graphic symbol of the artist's own design, while Nina Beier and Marie Lund's The Archives (World Peace), 2008, features a series of peace posters that have been folded and framed so that their status as evidence must be taken on trust. Garrett Phelan's installation At what point will common sense prevail, 2008, also operates somewhere between document and fiction. Involving the voices of 26 individuals, each performing scripts written by the artist on subjects as diverse as science, politics and religion, the multilingual audio component is the outcome of successive processes of recording, editing, rerecording and transmission. As a consequence, it is difficult to discern a coherent argument even when the language is familiar. In a smaller space the continual transmission of these recordings could easily generate a sense of claustrophobia, suggesting a vortex in which all meaning is lost. …

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