Magazine article Art Monthly

Simon Martin

Magazine article Art Monthly

Simon Martin

Article excerpt

Simon Martin

Durham Light Infantry Museum

22 October to 28 November

The lemon is back. Simon Martin's Untitled, 2010, reprises the legendary 1969 Lemon by Hollis Frampton. At first it is hard to see what has changed. The fact that Frampton's 7.5-minute study of an ordinary lemon illuminated by a rotating light is now a digital animation on a free-standing monitor hardly seems to matter. After all, as Martin has remarked, the Frampton original has long been available on YouTube.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Yet the more I look at it, the more the new version does seem different in various interesting, provocative ways. Maybe I am being fanciful, but the eponymous fruit now seems fresher. It is as if even after 40 years it has somehow avoided corruption, like the incorrupt bodies of Saint Bernadette and Saint Clare of Montefalco which the Catholic Church puts on display. Also, more prosaically, this version is shown alongside another 7.5-minute animation of an object again illuminated by a moving light: the lemon-shaped head of a cheap imitation of a traditional African bronze figure. Can we see this new extra element as a sequence in some corny, overwrought National Geographic travelogue about a charismatic, possibly apotropaic fetish from the 'dark continent', or a cue to think about questions of authenticity? Yes, perhaps. But then there is the lemon; each time darkness envelopes the bronze figure, the lemon on the other monitor reappears. It becomes more complicated.

I am describing here Untitled, 2010, as it appears, along with two other works by the artist, at the British Art Show in Nottingham. Another version is to be seen in Martin's final exhibition as artist-in-residence at Durham Cathedral. This is displayed rather differently; the work is on its own and in a darkened, cinema-like gallery where the quality of the immersive viewing experience seems portentous. Prompted by the fact that the gallery is situated in an ancient cathedral city, my way of proceeding is to search for some sort of eschatological meaning. But this is in vain. The improbable juxtaposition of these two objects once more resists my efforts.

The two other pieces at the British Art Show both feature museum objects. …

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