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some art that i saw last week 29/10/03

From: Etta
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 29 October 2003


ICA, Video Acts: Single Channel works from the Collections of Pamela and Richard Kramlich and New Art Trust 30th July - November 9th 2003 (artists: Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Dara Birnbaum, Dan Graham, Joan Jonas, Mike Kelley/Jim Shaw, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Piplotti Rist, Martha Rosler, Richard Serra, Bill Viola and William Wegman)

This has been extended due to popular demand, until November 9th (originally 19th Oct). I highly recommend this exhibition even if, like me,you are not a huge video art fan. The best thing about it is the way it is curated, quite a radical approach to showing the work, each video presented on an indivdual TV set, with headphones, so you can dip into things as you please, a democratic and user friendly approach. Most of the well-known video artists are represented, McCarthy, Nauman, Acconci, a fantastic piece by Pipilotti Rist (it's in the foyer so don't miss!), the obligatory Bill Viola plus some real surprises… I didn't know Richard Serra made videos! One of them especially good, called Prisoners' Dilemma, a political/social/art historical allegory, very funny. The performance pieces looked a bit dated I thought, but perhaps this is just an indication of how we have become so used to the medium as an art form, at the time they were probably quite revolutionary.

The National Gallery, Bill Viola: The Passions 22nd Ocober - 4th January 2004 It somehow made sense to go and see the Viola show at the National after going to the ICA, if only to compare and contrast the diametrically opposing approaches to curating a show. This was exactly what the ICA was trying to get away from, darkened spaces creating a forbidding atmosphere of gravitas, the booming soundwaves echoed as I descended down the steps of the Sainsbury wing, a familiar welcome from the video meister himself. If I sound a bit cynical, then perhaps I am just a bit weary, maybe I have got immune to the impact, the "visually stunning and psychologically gripping" (from the flyer) videos did not grip or stun me, the format and effect being a tad tiresome, slick but unimaginative. Bottlenecked in amongst the adoring crowds, the videos are a strange mix of being neither paintings nor films. I do love the Five Angels for the Millenium installation at Tate, the reason why I think that this piece is successful is because it is all enveloping and abstracted, both visually and emotionally. But the small works on panels did not work for me (some of which I had seen previously at Anthony D'Offay), their locus as "in between" painting/video/performance meant that they had neither the impact nor interest that any one of those media could offer. But people seem to like it…ICA, Tate, National Gallery and Haunch of Venison - three major art spaces and one of the leading London commercial galleries all showing his work at present, the boy done good (I saw him doing book signings in the shop at the National).

The Hayward Gallery, Saved! 100 years of the National Arts Collections Fund 23rd October-18th January 2004 I was invited to the opening of the Hayward Gallery. After the refurbishment work the Hayward now seems a lot lighter, glass fronted and less concrete, a bit trendy too. Their new Pavilion houses hi-tech access to info on touch screens, the kids can watch cartoons too (there are some serious Power Puff Girls and Felix cartoons to be watched) and roll around on the spongy floor. On a more serious note, the public access screens are very user friendly and informative. The exhibition itself was interesting, a real hotch potch of African art, Indian miniatures, Picasso's and Auberch's, Chinese glassware, Girtin and Turner watercolours…It showed how much the NACF had manged to procure over a hundred years. The interior of the galleries have been transformed to make a more "museum-like" atmosphere and the works are shown chronologically according to when they were purchased. There was no theme, apart from the fact that the works were NACF funded, making the show into a really interesting mix of artworks, plus it made me look at the individual pieces more attentively I think! Considering it was the launch night of the Hayward and the PV for the show, it was low key…a sign pointed to the Starbucks (who are now the official Hayward café) in the reception area, if one wanted to purchase drinks…which was odd. But don't let that put you off, this is a genuinely interesting show.

The Other Cinema, Matthew Barney: The Cremaster Cycle I just thought I would mention this as well, I went to see it on Sunday. Most of you probably know that The Cremaster Cycle was shown at the Ritzy earlier on this year, with marathon sessions of the whole cycle being screened, alongside a vaseline installation in the foyer area. The screenings at The Other Cinema were in more digestible portions, I saw Cremaster 4 and 5. Beautiful slime, operatic tragedy, speed and slow, there are adjectives but no narratives, timescales with no time, the sooner you surrender to the weird and the wonderful the better, I am now kicking myself that I didn't go and see the whole thing at the Ritzy, this series is only on until Thursday and so I'll have to wait until it re-surfaces again somewhere. I found an interesting article in one of the back issues of Tate magazine as well If anyone knows where it is being shown, please let me know! The Info man at the cinema didn't seem to know.

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