Magazine article Art Monthly

Josephine Meckseper

Magazine article Art Monthly

Josephine Meckseper

Article excerpt

Timothy Taylor Gallery London 12 October to 12 November

Ambivalence is a relative thing. In the case of Josephine Meckseper, you might say her work is less ambivalent than Richard Prince's, more ambivalent than Group Material's, less ambivalent than Andy Warhol's, more ambivalent than Marcel Duchamp's. But it depends where the frame is placed, how much you have faith in objects being able to speak for themselves in a range of settings, or, conversely, how much you believe the discussion matters.

Meckseper's displays of mass-produced, found and handmade objects are in the service of indirect protest and media/commodity critique. One is struck first by their arch refinement, all clean and shiny surfaces, fitted lights and new things looking straight out of their packaging. The juxtaposition of refinement and inherent worth is where the disjuncture between given and discursive value lies: most of the mass-produced objects are 'low', and are bought or found by Meckseper. There are steel wire scourers, fake diamonds, socks and tights, reproductions of film stills, paintings, images of previous displays, and found photographs (not to mention fetish-like objects such as a feather duster and a fur tail). The shop fittings, despite their perfection, are not in fact high-end at all: slatwall panels are the domain of airport shops or the seedier end of Oxford Street rather than--for example--Mayfair, which is where they are displayed. These are not generic objects standing in for a generic consumerism. Meckseper uses them for what they signify: a scourer is women's labour; diamonds point to the international trade of natural resources; shop fittings for displaying gloves and socks denote the amputated limbs of veterans of the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In similar terms, the handmade items reference moments in the history of art where the readymade was already in play, such as Robert Rauschenberg's combines and silkscreens, abstract expressionist painting and Dan Flavin's fluorescent light sculptures. There is a clever link here between modularity in semiotic, historical and industrial contexts.

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Meckseper wants the works to be 'urgent and in touch with the present, without any trace of a studio practice'. In this exhibition as in others, the work is doing a situational critique. …

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