Friday, 30 August 2013

A Distant Echo of the Body Electric

Stopping off at Calvert 22, East London's foundation for Russian and Eastern European art,  Garageland Reviewer Joe Turnbull finds he has to listen very closely to hear the whispers of the body electric.

What was once a vociferous mantra of anti-communism is now just a whisper; a muted spectre of Cold War propaganda. Nevertheless, it remains imprinted on the western cultural psyche like a faded tattoo. Nowhere is this more manifest than in the curation of exhibitions containing artwork from the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. When presenting work from the former Soviet states, galleries all too often either exhibit work that is tantamount to state-funded propaganda or, as has been the case more recently, present work that stiflingly critiques the censorship and oppression of those regimes through coded Aesopian symbolism.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Animal in the Gallery

Over the years a veritable menagerie of live animals has been introduced into gallery spaces in the name of art. In an exploration of the topic Travis Riley meets some birds, a coyote, a fox, an elephant and 12 horses.

In his work Untitled, 1967 shown at Rome’s Galleria l’Attico, Jannis Kounellis exhibited paintings with artificial flowers and birdcages containing live birds. In images of the exhibition the cages are shown stacked on either side of a canvas with three, cotton, leaf-like forms stuck to its centre. The cages form a considerable part of the material of the installation; black and white photographs show the walls of the gallery space marked with a grid of shadows. What the pictures cannot show is the inevitable clamour and aviary aroma that comes with the presence of the animals.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Der Blaue Reiter at Lenbachhaus, Munich

Visiting Munich Garageland reviewer Liza Weber takes in Gabriele Münter's staggering expressionist donation to Lenbachhaus and wonders where exactly Kandinsky's pianist has got to.

Franz Marc, Blaues Pferd I (Blue Horse I), 1911

On turning eighty years old Gabriele Münter gave, rather than received, an inestimable gift. In 1957 to Munich’s Lenbachhaus or, more accurately, to the world, she donated 90 oil paintings, 24 glass paintings, 116 watercolours and coloured drawings, 160 drawings, 28 sketchbooks and an entire collection of prints. Their corners confessed not the signature of her modest umlauted ‘M’ however, but rather nine upper case letters spelling that reddened name ‘KANDINSKY’.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Like A Monkey With A Miniature Cymbal

Whilst visiting Aid & Abet's show of perpetual loops Corinna Spencer meets Mrs Craven, who is passionate about her greenhouse, and a monkey that just won't give up.

Rhys Coren, Smile/Drop the base soundscape, 2013

All of the works in this show hold a sense of the continuous. Loops populate the gallery space, they are seen in film and paint, in sound and action, but in each instance, just before the loop becomes an exercise in futility, everything is transformed and filled with a sense of obsessive enjoyment. Paintings are worked over again and again and references are made to the heroic and to simple everyday endeavours.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Their Own Special Creations

Alex Michon raids her dressing up box of reminiscences to review Club to Catwalk at the Victoria & Albert Museum, an exhibition full of fashion-tastic hedonism.

From Club to Catwalk flyer, styled by John Derry Bunce
(aka John Dairy Queen)

'That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly: 'it always makes one a little giddy at first--'
'Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. 'I never heard of such a thing!'
'--but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
'I'm sure MINE only works one way,' Alice remarked. 'I can't remember things before they happen.'
'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.’ Alice Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Trouble with Counter-Culture

Garageland Reviewer Joe Turnbull's report from The Trouble with Counter-Culture talk at the ICA, in which it turns out that counter-culture is indeed very troubled. 

The trouble with counter-culture is that it's difficult to define. Any attempts to pigeonhole and demarcate could arguably be the first step in the mainstreaming process that neuters and assimilates it.

The trouble with counter-culture is its hegemonic cultural counterpart is not monolithic but fluid and diffuse. Counter-culture must constantly change and adapt to remain effective.

The trouble with counter-culture is it is such a complex and diverse concept that a one and a half hour talk could never satisfyingly address it.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Museum of Contemporary African Art

Garageland Reviewer Marianna Michael takes us on a guided tour of Meschac Gaba's banknote-stuffed Museum of Contemporary African Art and leaves us time to play with the board games and building blocks.

The Draft and Architecture Rooms

The mingling sounds of building blocks crashing to the ground and playful laughter radiate from entrance of Meschac Gaba’s much anticipated exhibition at Tate Modern, a bewildering draw proffered to those about to enter.
Born in 1961 Cotonou, Benin, Gaba conceived the concept of the Museum of Contemporary African Art during a residency at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdan in 1996. The now completed work, a 12-room display, was developed between 1997-2002 and has recently been acquired by Tate Modern.