Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Being & Drunken Boat

I've been struggling to get to blog, so thought I'd put these two shows together, a quick comparison perhaps.

Being by Damián Ortega at Ikon Eastside

Smooth, buttery curls of locally sourced copper rolls, some were slightly lost in the large space, but a couple of pieces were strong on their own. Perhaps it would have been nice to see a Tate Britain Turbine Hall treatment, with a vast sea of copper filling the space. There was also a video by Ortega of typewriters crashing to the ground, which seemed unconnected, but there may have been some reference to the passing of outdated technology and industry.

Being Being

Drunken Boat at Colony

Casey & McAree's Fucked Arc dominates this show (a curatorial intervention across the 2 rooms at COLONY, creating a version in cardboard of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc). I'd heard it was going to be even more awkward to get around, but they'd left a gap to get to the loo (too kind of them in my opinion)

Drunken Boat Drunken Boat Drunken Boat

Most of the sculpture was fairly lo-fi, humerous work, although Grex Cox's formica clad furniture (right, above) had a slightly more self-contained presence to it.

Drunken Boat Drunken Boat

These exhibitions are examples of the current popularity of sculpture in Birmingham, despite having different ways of approaching the form, they share a slight sadness at their heart, as if responding to loss and impotence. I'm not sure if I prefer the fairly formal, traditional approach of Being with its subtle references to local industry; or the more overt use of populist imagery and familiar materials in Drunken Boat. I can't help but think that the return to an interest in objects is a sign of the increasing retreat to more commercial possibilities in the current art climate, and I hope that there will still be a place for works that challenge people to change what is going on around them, not just mourn it.

Larger versions on my Flickr page


greg said...

I don’t know if there is a return to an interest in objects as a sign of commercial possibilities. I don’t know if ‘return’ is the right word either; it’s always been there. Painting has always seemed to be more popular in the commercial trends to me, but the contemporary sculpture scene has almost always consistently used objects, so I don’t think there has been a return. I don’t think its even more popular than it has ever been either! Certainly in brum there is a really strong performance contingent over sculpture, what with Fierce!, yourselves, Springhill and more promoting performance and not traditional exhibition based work. I also think that Drunken Boat tried to be more reactive to a traditional approach (but failed), which is challenging what is going on around them. I agree that they didn’t do enough with the cardboard wall and with the placement of works (and why I was in it, maybe I shouldn’t have been in it, but its nice to show your work!) as it was supposed to be more badly arranged with work getting in the way of other work and passages etc. So I disagree!

Ana said...

Fair enough, I wasn't saying there was anything wrong with the show, and as you know we do plenty of sculpture ourselves.

I think my issue is that there seemed to be lots of interesting things going on in the Midlands, with more relational work that asked the audience to be more brave and question their assumptions about what they could get out of a show other than entertainment.

I'm concerned that this potentially exciting force has been channelled by funding that encourages work that engages with issues, but in a safe way. The work that gets out may be good, but I'm thinking more of the work that is not getting made and seen because there is no support for it.