Art Monthly 372: Dec-Jan 13-14

Art Monthly cover
Danh Vo

Interviewed by Jennifer Thatcher


Paul O’Kane

Scream and Scream Again

Francis Frascina

Salon of Fear

Saim Demircan

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Danh Vo We The People 2011-13


We The People

Danh Vo interviewed by Jennifer Thatcher

Vietnam-born Danish artist Danh Vo is known for translating found or manufactured objects into new critical contexts, from an entire Vietnamese church installed at the 55th Venice Biennale to the scattered sections of his life-size replica of the Statue of Liberty. Here, he discusses how to challenge museums, reclaim cultural heritage and why stupid reactions can be productive.

'Finding out that the Statue of Liberty was only 2mm thick presented a contradiction: it is quite fragile, it's not what you think it is. I also wanted to make a project with an icon that was immediately familiar to most people. I think it was very important for me to deal with objects or imagery that are arbitrary in relation to most of my interests.'

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Johan Grimonprez Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y 1997


All Clear

Paul O'Kane sees through the rhetoric of transparency

Recent claims that transparency – particularly the kind heralded by online technologies – is a panacea for democracy veil the fact that, in terms of power relations, these technologies often function more like the one-way mirrors of interrogation rooms. Perhaps artists ought to look back to the radical repurposing of mainstream culture in the tumultuous 1970s for inspiration as to how to reveal the unseen.

'Can we complacently claim that the will of the people is the rule of the people by the people while we enthusiastically give our time and agency over to commodified wizardry whose complex algorithms keep us "sitting in a room, by ourselves, staring at a chunk of plastic", as a recent Facebook post confessed.'

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Edvard Munch The Scream 1895


Scream and Scream Again

Francis Frascina on MoMA's recent reappraisal of Munch's famous painting

The venerable museum's canonical story of Modernism was tweaked in 2012 when a version of Edvard Munch's The Scream was triumphantly acquired by one of MoMA's trustees and installed at the opening of its modernist galleries. But a careful reading of this curatorial strongarming suggests less a reappraisal of Munch than an appropriation of victimhood in the service of power.

'Leon Black – CEO of Apollo Global Management – became fabulously rich through private equity and hedge funds, a process of money-making highly criticised in the banking and financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. Was he seeking a different cultural capital, purchasing a version of The Scream to express his distinctive financial capital in an era dominated by the war on terror?'



The Ratings Game

When Arts Council England responded to accusations of a London bias, it was instructive to see the funding body, steered by its new chair former TV producer and Big Brother advocate Peter Bazalgette, attempting to shift the discussion away from population-based funding and towards attendance. Is this indicative of a new version of the old bums-on-seats approach at ACE for measuring success?

'What this new measure is really about is the translation of viewing figures into attendance figures – ratings, in other words. From now on it appears that the measure of success will be how arts organisations compete against each other in the ratings game, a game that ACE chair Peter Bazalgette played all too well in his previous incarnation.'


London hoovers up an astonishingly disproportionate amount of national arts funding, it is claimed – but the figures are not entirely representative; the Southbank Centre is challenged over its sponsorship from Shell; artists are happy, a study proves; Adrian Piper pulls her work from a show of African-American artists; the latest news on galleries, events, appointments, prizes and more.


Anthony Caro 1924-2013
Ian White 1971-2013

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Salon of Fear

Saim Demircan

Lyon Biennale: Meanwhile ... Suddenly and Then

Laura McLean-Ferris

artSOUTH: Collaborations

Paul Carey-Kent

Asco: No Movies

Geoffrey Farmer: Let's Make the Water Turn Black

Martin Holman

Kara Walker

Morgan Quaintance

Victor Burgin: A Sense of Place

Victor Burgin: On Paper

Maria Walsh

London Round-up

Mark Prince

Ireland Round-up

Joanne Laws

Amsterdam Round-up

Chris Clarke

Bloomberg New Contemporaries

David Trigg


Artists' Books

Ruth Ewan: How to Make Archway Tower Disappear

Stephen Hodge: The Master Plan

Jennifer Thatcher on site-specific artists' books

'Given the deployment of public art as a regeneration strategy over the past decade, one might ask whether artists should be called upon to get involved in master plans. Artists are wise to being implicated in schemes that price out the poor and weak, yet it is cynical to suggest that they should not have a social responsibility or offer a more creative complement to the pragmatism of planners and architects.'

The Nabokov Paper

David Briers sits a fictional exam

'The translator Kate Briggs has collaborated with graphic designer Lucrezia Russo to supplement some of Vladimir Nabokov's surviving exam questions with additional Nabokovian ones of their own.'



Round-up: Flat is a Feminist Issue

David Barrett gathers some winter reading

'In an age of austerity imposed by supra-state organisations, we still struggle with the implications of neoliberalism's victory, which Mark Fisher admonishes in Institutional Attitudes: "While the left was naively ingenuous in its critique of the state, the right spouted an anti-state rhetoric while making sure it controlled the state." The postwar, post-feminist triumph of the middle class is in danger of being dismantled and replaced by a neo-feudal system of rights-free, low- paid labour.'


Art and Ecology

Alternative Globalisation

Maja and Reuben Fowkes on global eco activism

'While for some a deeper engagement with ecology has led them to embrace more sustainable artistic lifestyles, other artists are choosing to directly confront disinformation in the public sphere by using the autonomous spaces of contemporary art to articulate environmental critique.'


Letter From Japan


Cherry Smyth on the Aichi Triennale

'Artists and architects responded to the misfortune of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake better than many other people. As local authorities reached an impasse with central government over reconstruction plans, artists and architects could go and make things happen. Many of these projects are still under way.'



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