In our “Me, Myself and Art” series, in collaboration with Samsung Galaxy Alpha, Sleek takes an immersive approach to the art world. Via the medium of writer and stylist Ella Plevin, and her shiny new Samsung Galaxy Alpha, we bring the art world to you in a uniquely personalised way, utilising performance, selfies and video to present new perspectives on the art scene.
With the Frieze social circus as a backdrop and the reassurance of a flight booked back to Tegel airport, London is bearable and fun. I started to love (not resent) the TFL scramble, being greeted as “orrrite dawlin” and always carrying an umbrella. I bumped into friends everywhere, even among the tourist slew of Oxford Street, which rarely happened when I lived here. I used my full-English-fuelled enthusiasm to race up and down the Northern line, catching more great events and shows in one week than I might see in a month in Berlin. I was sad to miss Pierre Huyghe at Hauser and Wirth, exhibitions at either of the Tates (Modern or Britain) and “Increasingly Skeptical Bodies Begin To Come Forward” at Welcome Screen, but you can’t catch ‘em all. At least, not during Frieze Week with an Oyster Card.
It was difficult to fault most of the shows I did see and if you’re in London before 9 November, I can’t recommend Ed Fornieles at Chisenhale highly enough. Hugely divisive (I heard opinions ranging from “progressive, feminist, cinematic” to “problematic, sexist, a mess”) and undeniably chaotic, Fornieles filled the gallery space with sculptural set pieces, screens, enormous canvas works and even performers described by the artist as “human GIFs” in an effort to address the archetypal roles and mainstream myths proffered by Western media, culture and social convention. Although using tropes tapped from popular film, television and other romantic portrayals of American suburbia, I found the show extremely intimate and haunting.
Over in Central London at new space, Evelyn Yard, Amalia Ulman’s solo show “The Destruction of Experience” was presented with a single illustration by renowned Japanese illustrator Hajime Soroyama. The exhibition surprised and impressed me, presenting a deeper insight into the artists concerns than her vast online presence. I felt uncomfortable watching her recent performance on Facebook and Instagram, “Excellences and Perfections”, detecting a hint of snobbery in her reading of the glossy blonde consumer honey who has only read Salinger. I felt I understood Ulman’s intentions in dealing with reductive archetypes but found the nihilistic tone troubling. “The Destruction of Experience”, while still laced with signature pale cynicism, displayed a new and uplifting steak of confidence (in the future?) buoyed by deft execution and clarity of vision. After attending Friday’s ICA panel discussion with Ulman in conversation with arts writers Hannah Black and Derica Shields, I have started to think of Excellence and Perfections as more interesting if considered as contextual research rather than as a complete work.
The very first show I saw last week was at Project Native Informant’s snug Mayfair space on Brook’s Mews. Shanzhai Biennial presented “100 Hamilton Terrace”, pairing up with high-end brokers Aston Chase to transform the gallery and a booth at Frieze into functioning real estate sales ground for a (“stunning 6 storey”) London property. The move plays up the phenomenon of Frieze, a retail ground for the ultra-rich held in a city where the consistently steep annual rise of house prices (10%) now outstrips inflation.
Another Mayfair space, Carl Kostyál, presented new work by Berlin artist Timur Si-Qin and an opportunity to duckface without (much) shame. The irritatingly pretentious title and press text were unnecessary to enjoy the three lightboxes and 3D-printed hominid bones encased in frosted plastic. Si-Qin consistently makes visually irresistible, slickly produced work predicated on his beliefs surrounding marketing ritual, contemporary philosophy and evolutionary theory so the location of the show in London’s wealthiest shopping district was apt, although tongue seemed to avoid cheek to some extent.
Two group shows I enjoyed were “Heathers” in the North and “Genuine Articles” in the South of the city. I caught the end of Saturday’s casual Skype conversation held at Rowing gallery between artists Deanna Havas and Lisa Holzer with curator Alex Ross about hair, art and growing up (online). The event, “New Haircut, New House, New Home” was entitled with an extract from Heathers, the 1988 movie the exhibition takes as a starting point. The cult film, known for its caustic teen wit (“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw” is a classic line) lends the show its tone: part earnest teenage bedroom idolatry, part cynical adolescent posturing.
“Genuine Articles” at Jupiter Woods brought together works questioning authorship within visual networks. The self-recycling mushroom garden installation at the rear (“The Mycological Twist” from artists Eloise Bonneviot and Anne de Boer) adds a complimentary touch to a show about dissemination and decay.
Two other notable shows in East London also focused on mediated emotion and post-internet problematics: Yuri Pattison’s sparse but clever “Free Traveller” at Cell Project Space(on until 2 November) and Cécile B. Evans confidently positioned “Hyperlinks” at Seventeen Gallery (closing December 6th).
Text by Ella Plevin
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