Art Monthly 344: March 2011

Art Monthly cover
Bethan Huws

Interviewed by Mark Wilsher

On Ugliness

Dave Beech

The Aesthetics of Violence

Francis Frascina

Modern British Sculpture

Margaret Garlake • Mark Prince

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Bethan Huws Whitechapel Piece 2011


Time to Reflect

Bethan Huws interviewed by Mark Wilsher

Paris-based Welsh artist Bethan Huws rose to prominence in the early 1990s with a series of ultra-subtle interventions in London galleries. Currently exhibiting at the Whitechapel Gallery, she talks here about her responses to Marcel Duchamp, the importance of language, misunderstandings, getting angry and the brevity of life.

'I admired Carl Andre's work, it was one of my models to work with. The difference is that Andre's floor pieces are solid blocks. My floor has a space inside, it is a volume with a chamber inside it. For me that relates to language and communication, it is a space for something to resonate like a musical instrument.'


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John Russell Public Sculpture (the social) 2010


On Ugliness

Dave Beech on the counter-promise of ugliness

There has been an upsurge in talk of beauty, but no corresponding discussion of ugliness. Surely the socially ugly – the ugliness of resistance, with its oppositional stance against the status quo – is far more relevant than beauty in this time of protests?

'The political opposition between beauty and ugliness is not felt as political at all, but as the self-evident, correct and natural affirmation of beauty and the equally self-evident rejection of ugliness. Beauty is good, ugliness is bad.'


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Regina José Galindo Confesión 2007


Frames of Resistance

Francis Frascina on the aesthetics of violence

If life becomes precarious when war-mongering politicians champion the poetic myths of nationalism, how do contemporary artists challenge and repudiate those genocidal narratives?

'Re-enactment opens up the ethical issue of "consent". There is a representation. Those actually tortured do not consent, do not know what will happen, have no control. They might not be represented.'



A Failure to Communicate

The government blames local authorities for cutting arts spending and arts organisations themselves for failing to persuade local authorities of their importance to the community. But after years of New Labour's instrumental arts policies and the coalition's recent singling out of the arts for deeper than average cuts, these claims are arrant nonsense.

'The coalition government has taken the next step and begun the process of complete privatisation of the arts, stripping away the last vestiges of their autonomy and leaving them at the mercy of the private sector, which shows no sign of stepping into the breach.'


Mike Watson takes issue with Dean Kenning's report on the student protests, in particular his negativity towards independent art schools. Dean Kenning responds with a defence of the Welfare State.


Unpaid labour is in the news as internships become ever more valuable during a period of mass graduate unemployment; a wave of galleries close as funding and small-scale collectors disappear; business sponsorship of the arts collapses while new models to extract profits from the art market emerge; and all the latest news on art world commissions, prizes and more.

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Ed Atkins Death Mask II: the scent 2010


Ed Atkins

Mark Prince profiles the British video artist

Ed Atkins explores the visual technologies at work within high-definition video, turning the hyper real into the uncanny – and reminding Mark Prince of early Rodney Graham.

'Atkins collages and filters the HD image until the medium's self-reflections are deranged into something closer to gothic fiction.'



Modern British Sculpture

Margaret Garlake

Modern British Sculpture

Mark Prince

Never the Same River

Christopher Townsend

The Life of the Mind: Love, Sorrow and Obsession

Morgan Quaintance

Lucia Nogueira: Mischief

Cherry Smyth

Sean Edwards: Maelfa

David Trigg

Lucy Clout: Physicalism, or near enough

Laura McLean-Ferris

Reproductive Labour: An exhibition exploring the work of Cinenova

Colin Perry

Jack Goldstein

Kathy Noble

Diana Thater

Maria Walsh

Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard: Publicsfear

Martin Herbert


Artists' Books

Aphasic Disturbance

Pamela Kember on Stephen Bury's curated exhibition at Chelsea Space

'Stephen Bury has himself produced a new artists' book for the show, Strange, 2010. Based on Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, it breaks with the syntactic system of language by using only the novel's adjectives. It is an intriguing and lively read, despite the disconcerting sense of repetition and fragmentation of words, which is perhaps analogous to aphasia.'



The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes

Martin Patrick on Matthew Jesse Jackson's history of Cold War culture

'One of the most refreshing aspects of this study is how certain received notions are held up to scrutiny only to crumble almost immeditely.'

Dark Matter

Larne Abse Gogarty on Gregory Sholette's study of guerilla activist art

'Dark Matter's analysis of the art world's seemingly impenetrable hierarchy is a stark rebuttal to any reader who may still savour the notion of artistic labour as retaining romantic autonomy.'



Experimental Film Round-up

Maxa Zoller on recent experimental film screenings

'With the explosion of the so-called "gallery film" in the 1990s, experimental filmmaking not only entered the black box of the white cube, it also expanded into a diverse range of cultural niches generating a dynamic and complex film culture.'



Agent and Dealer Duties

Henry Lydiate on an illuminating lawsuit over a dealer's hidden fees

'Unfortunately, Accidia believed the sale price had been $6m and that Simon C Dickinson would have been paid his commission by Danielle Luxembourg out of her $500,000 fee. In 2008, Accidia discovered the sale price had been $7m, and so filed the lawsuit against Dickinson for return of the "secret profit" he had made of $1m.'



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