Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sue Beveridge: Destruction of the Lover, 2012


Ikea’s head designers were still not 100% sure about the market for steel skeleton storage units when they commissioned this piece. The conversation they had when it was first presented to them was roughly as follows:

“The title, once this goes into commercial production will of course be “Destruktion av vännen”. The legs of course will have to be replaced with either solid pine or laminate birch effects legs. If we were going for the high end market we could experiment with maybe an oak effect too...”

“One second...”

One high powered Swedish business person had noticed a number of flaws:

“Why is there a skeleton on it?”

This statement was followed by the sort of noises that shocked, executive Swedish designers make when death is mentioned.

“We don’t know..”
Someone finally voiced the question everyone was thinking

“Is it art?”

“We don’t know...”

According to my reporter the designers are still unsure if this is a cutting edge magazine rack or art. So am I.

A steel skeleton storage unit you say? Well, of course that is a commission for the German market, obviously!
Although you are wrong about the actual application of this item. It’s a sieve for plunging into the Fatherland’s fertile lands, upon which the world’s finest Dichter and Denker walked, in order to retrieve the bones of those Dichter and Denker we got rid of around the 1930s and 40s.
The Germans that operate the sieve then leave the scene and call the remains a Holocaust Memorial, enabling the entirety of the German population to point at it screaming LOOK WE LEARNED OUR LESSON, WE’RE THE GOOD GUYS NOW and then forming and joining peace groups carrying Israel = Swastika signs.

It does double nicely as a magazine rack, though.

It definitely does work nicely as a magazine rack although another member of the Swedish design illuminati is reputed to have been particularly scornful of the skeleton, which was found to have been made out bone. The use of bone to make the skeleton has been derided by Derrida as a choice so typical of the early-post-avant-garde design hegemony that he is rumoured to have given up his membership. Brian Sewell is reported to have jumped in to fill the void, although when he learnt of the singularly inventive use of hardened horse shit to create a soul sieve for teutonic sediments he was reported to maintain a stiff upper lip.

Regardless of these trifling anecdotes, which I’m sure DJR will have heard at one of our many convoluted tea parties, this is very much an artwork of two parts.

One part is a magazine rack and the other is a skeleton that has fallen apart. I recommend gluing the two together firmly before it is exhibited again.

Yes. I remember one particular tea party where we forgot to glue the Führer’s bones to its soul sieve... now he won’t be resurrected for another thousand years. Awkward!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Robbie Penford Baker: Untitled Collage 2, 2012

This untitled collage is clearly a comment on how inadequate the polygonal lasso tool is to create attractive lines, especially when half a side-boob on a pink plane is concerned.
These poorly cut out hands are, if we were able to understand sign language, gesturing repressed sexual things towards each other, but mainly their frustration about how erotica, once it enters the realm of art, cannot be used for masturbatory purposes anymore - well, at least not when it concerns anything else but the ego of the artist.

It is nice to know that the artist owns a copy of photoshop and has some limited skill in using it. However it is regrettable that they have forgot to make clear exactly what event they are promoting. This piece is fine, it just needs some text over the top to indicate where I can go and get drunk and dance.

I have heard that there’s a feature in the new version of Photoshop which will let you post your digital collage directly from Photoshop to Tumblr. It will, however, delete the original straight away, and also destroy the physical space on your harddrive where your collage was stored.
So instead of having the collage end up in a place where noone will look at it (recycle bin), it will be in a place where noone that matters will look at it (tumblr).

As one of Edinburgh’s premier tumblr users I resent the suggestion that I do not matter. Tumblr is the arena in which contemporary art is flourishing, thousands of aspiring young artists doing really good drawings of friends using pencils. Whether you like it or not this is the new face of contemporary art. Down with MoMA! Down with Tate! Down with Saatchi! Long live the bold new face of contemporary art! #art! #drwaing! #pencil! #idk!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Catriona Gallagher: Door (fittings and fixtures not included), 2012

In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel walks into the void and encounters an object. That object is a tree. But also, for some reason, a non-tree at the same time. I also didn’t understand the whole passage Hegel wrote that led up to encountering the tree, so actually what I should have said is:
Hegel, equipped with some kind of form of self awareness, encounters a tree in the dark, which is an object. So Hegel is the subject, or is he aware of that already? I can’t remember, and reading Hegel sure as fuck doesn’t help, either. So, what I should have said is:
There is this term called subject-object relationship, and it somehow reminds me of something I thought I understood when reading Hegel, but clearly, I can’t recall any of it.

In relation to Catriona Gallagher’s piece, in which she replaced the handle, lock and hinges of a door with latex versions, what I’m saying is: Hegel, equipped with some kind of awareness-logic, walks/floats into the void/non-void and encounters/non-encounters a tree/non-tree. Part of the tree/ the non-parts of the non-tree are made out of latex, and Hegel goes: What the fuck is this shit?

As Michael Craig-Martin, former MI5 employee so rightly taught us with his infamous lecture series “An Oak Tree” nothing is as it seems. However here it seems right to assume that this is a door and not a tree. Further investigation of the photograph shows strong evidence that it has been painted. The methodology and syntax used in this application renders the door beyond sculpture and into the realm of abstract expressionism where the acknowledgement of its lack of flatness places it firmly back within the sculptural realm. The sexual (but safe) connotations of the latex make it clear that this piece is responding to that infamous surrealist poem by Isidore Isou, “Painting and Kissing”. As Isou so rightly states “The first time that she came to my house, she bought Chardonnay, now I buy Chardonnay, almost every day. And as her kissing got worse, oh her paintings improved, but what does that prove, it proves nothing. On March the 23 rd she said something so absurd, She said ‘You love to be in love, but you’re never really in love.’” Never has a truer word been spoken, Hegel might be going what the fuck is this shit, but Isou already knows.

I do want to underline here, though, that I won’t be making love to these door’s/non-door’s fittings, however safe they are. The latex surely does have its sexual allure, but that won’t tempt me into becoming part of a visual homoerotic pun when my manhood approaches a latex knob. Oddly enough the photograph of Gallagher’s latex knob looks remarkably similar to photos I’ve taken of myself.
But what is it then that happens in between Hegel and Isou? It’s not a door, nor a tree, nor a non-door/non-tree, it’s not love; it’s a door that would love to be a door, but never really has been a door - just look at its tilt!
That’s not how any professional door would position itself in the room. There are certain standards in that profession, and I have many friends, who are, by the way, doors, who would frown over such ridiculous amateurish display of lack of professionalism. Even in the art scene there are doors who can handle themselves a lot better than that.

This isn't a door!
I think you’ve for once managed to get to the heart of the issue there. By saying “however safe they are” with regards to the fittings you emphasise the fact that they are in fact not at all safe. It is also clear that the angle of the door is indeed highly unorthodox. I would prefer to see it at 90º to the floor, in a vertical position. Whilst we all had a laugh during post-modernism I think the late-2000s recession really merits a serious re-consideration of the artists role in society.


  1. Door to sit at a 90º angle
  2. Door to sit at a 90º angle within some sort of gap in the wall, creating a liminal zone of wall/none wall
  3. Fittings to be replaced with similar fittings that have been crafted in a more practical material.
  4. More practical material to be chosen strictly on the basis of practicality
  5. Door to be replaced with a door that is the correct size for the gap in wall.
  6. Door handle to be replaced with a handle made from one of the following materials:
    1. Polished Chrome
    2. Satin Chrome
    3. Polished Brass
    4. ivory crackle glaze florentine bronze

Of course these actions need to be carried out without undue compromise of the artist’s vision.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Nathan Anthony: FLUMP NOOSE, 2010

The other day I realised that most of the art objects I have seen in my life, I’ve only seen as images. Are they actually 3D, or just cardboard cut-outs pretending to inhabit space, carefully propped up by stage designers? I’ll never know.

Thankfully this art object doesn’t throw me into this dilemma of not knowing of its 3D-ness as it severely cuts its dimensions by being plopped onto a wall.
Its creamy pinkness flat against an equally pink’ish plane tells me that the creator of this either does not know how to make photographs that could be classed as okay, or is so unsure about this creation that he not only cut its dimensions down, he also tries to make it disappear into the background.

As Sartre said “there is but only one serious philosophical problem and that is suicide”. Sadly this piece fails to address that. It would have been far more practical to construct the piece out of rope, preferably made from sisal fibres although polypropylene would have done at a push. The artist has clearly realised his error and has not tried to hang himself. This has no doubt caused him further pain and only intensified his suicidal feelings. It is therefore clear that the piece is highly unsuccessful.

Nausea - great summer reading

It is unsuccessful to such a degree that it makes me feel awkward. It’s even hanging in an awkward way. Get yourself together, noose! You’re a tool of self-destruction! Take pride in the undoing of the king of all animals, the annihilation of the thinking beast. Don’t just floppily hang about on a wall, unable to harm the flimsiest of people, or at least be used to heighten the sexual stimulus achieved by autoerotic asphyxiation. I’m pretty sure you aren’t even good for that, unless I’d stuff my face and nose with you simultaneously, trying to breathe through the sugar with my pants down.
You are about as useful as getting tips for intercourse from a 15 year old boy. Actually, you have probably been made by a mid-pubescent teen who had his first thoughts about suicide listening to Nirvana in 2006 eating a strawberry Cornetto, whose only profoundly mortal experience he’ll ever have is when the doctor tells him he’s got diabetes, then running home and watching the boxset of Dawson’s Creek/ the O.C. while bittersweet tears run down his chubby face wondering where it all went wrong, just to be found 3 weeks later on the promenades of the grim shores of eastern England: a bloated corpse, binged to death on trifle and shallow thoughts of suicide.

First of all I think you should leave the O.C. out of this. To mention this piece in the same sentence as such an emotionally profound show is insulting. Let us not forget those final fateful words, issued by the great Ryan Atwood, played with aplomb by Benjamin Mackenzie.

“Hey kid, need any help?”
Admittedly the piece probably is trying to respond to this great line which has undoubtedly overshadowed the creativity of most of today’s budding artists. Maybe my standards as a critic have just become too flawed by the work of writers such as Josh Schwartz, who also helped develop Gossip Girl.

To quote Josh Schwartz’s award winning essay about Steven Spielberg’s Gremlins “Spielberg has done it again”(1) or to extrapolate:
“Although I long for the safety of nostalgia, I am very well aware of the pitfalls of young adulthood - very much like the transition from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, a tale of a mind not yet ready to digest the wonders of the subject-object relationship manifested in hallucinations of alien visitors, to ‘Gremlins’, a horror story of a boy becoming a man by transferring his sexuality and death-wish metaphorically onto little monsters he accidentally created after midnight in his bedroom - a paranoid fear that his ‘wet dream’ semen grows to become self sufficient, and, as it was rejected unlike the virgin-esque Gizmo, turns on his creator and the whole town seeking to destroy it in pubescent hormonal rage.”

This excellent analysis by Josh Schwartz makes us truly understand the gravity of the quote JDA has provided us with... because what Nathan Anthony is really saying with his piece called Flump Noose is: “Hey kid, need any help? Here’s something for you to snack on after midnight while caressing your furry animal friend.”

We should probably call the authorities.

(1) Wikipedia,

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Robbie Penford Baker: Untitled collage 1, 2012

This is nice. Wait. One second. Let me look at it again. Well, there certainly is a lot of white going on. Oh no. It’s an off white. The only colour house paint that is available in the Tesco Value is a similar shade I believe. There are one and a half people in the piece of art. The complete person is climbing up a rock face, this presumably relates to one of the following:
  1. A sense of transcendence
  2. Liberation from male hierarchy
  3. Getting back in touch with nature and escaping western society which is of course ironic because her bikini is clearly from H&M
  4. Maybe she is looking into the void, as in the void of death.
  5. Maybe her lover died some years ago at this spot
  6. It could be a reference to that infamously unknown Van Gogh piece “Woman on Rockface, Half Man Rising"

Vincent 'Vinnie' V.G., creator of 'Woman on Rockface, Half Man Rising'

There seems to be an unspoken rule nowadays about collage; how to make it, what geometric shapes to use.
The go-to shape for everything is the triangle, of course. But what we have here is the off-triangle: a circle, seemingly raised off the paper with digital trickery. So it’s actually not paper. It’s just digital. This collage wasn’t even worth going to the stationary section in Tesco for.

If this collage would have been presented in poetry form, it would be one and a half helvetica words slapped on an emoticon, and the emoticon would be a sad face, as it would know that it’s just another throw-away gesture in a succession of throw-away gestures in conversations in empty chatrooms, in which the protagonists end their sentences with a hollow LOL.

The half person is within an empty void or maybe sitting on a slim black bench. This presumably relates to:
0.5-Personal experiences of the artist (probably a vegetarian) with trying to avoid anemia and ending up sunburnt
1.0-Fears relating to male pattern baldness, or emotions relating to their father struggle with male pattern baldness
1.5-A soviet-esque desire to create a society that is a complete work of art, manifesting itself mostly through avant-garde outside seating
2.0-It is possible that the man actually lacks both legs and his left arm (if it is a man, I should not make such cis-gendered assumptions). If this is a case maybe we should be talking about the 0.4 of a person.
2.4-It is perhaps wrong to assume that it is a person at all.
2.8- Maybe it is an orang-utan that has been shaved save for it’s head?
3.2-It could also be a Ron Mueck sculpture.

By the confident use of the off-white I would guess the artist is a vegan rather than a vegetarian. Or maybe this wasn’t actually created by a human at all, but by an algorithm? An algorithm written on a Macbook pro, intel i5 chipset, 4GB of RAM. We all know that virtual dreams are woven on Macs nowadays. Hardly anyone uses Linux to traverse the cyberdreamscape.
Or maybe it’s just a new filter option of Instagram? Maybe we just overlooked the sign-in button on that ‘collage’, I mean, have you tried pressing on that circle with your cursor/finger? Can I use my facebook account to log in? Will I be able to share this with my friends?

All in all I have to say that this is probably the best version of Angry Birds I have seen.
5 out of 5 Internet Explorer Stars for this App!

Ron Mueck: 'Frowny Face', life sized (silicone, pigment), 2011