Art Monthly 356: May 2012

Art Monthly cover
Do You Believe in Things?

Paul O’Kane


Omar Kholeif

Sara MacKillop

Profile by Duncan Wooldridge

Letter from LA

Kathy Battista

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John Wood & Paul Harrison One More Kilometre 2009


The Thing

Do you believe in things? asks Paul O'Kane

In a western world dominated by immaterial labour, and where scientists and philosophers have thrown into doubt our understanding of physical objects, how have artists – from John McCracken and John Hilliard to Wood & Harrison and Andrew Dodds – questioned and defended the nature of things?

'Sculpture, of all the arts, must surely be responsible for mapping the various journeys of thinghood. "What is a Thing?" – the question Heidegger asked in the 1920s – turns out to be a question that we have to keep asking.'


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Kraftwerk production still at Lenbachhaus Kunstbau Munich 2011


Man Machine

Omar Kholeif tracks the influences of Kraftwerk

With a recent move into exhibition making, German 'robot pop' group Kraftwerk has crossed disciplines into the visual arts. But which are the artists that the group borrowed from and who are the current artists, such as Jill Magid and Wafaa Bilal, that exemplify Kraftwerk's man-machine ethos?

'Kraftwerk's evocation of the cyborg has been discussed within academic music circles but rarely has its influence been positioned alongside contemporary visual art. For example, the work of infamous Cypriot-Australian performance and media artist Stelarc, who has used medical instruments, prosthetics and robotics to explore and alter how his body interfaces with its surroundings.'



Nothing Like a Dame

When culture secretary Jeremy Hunt sacked Liz Forgan, the first female chair of Arts Council England, he was following a well-worn pattern: when a major institution is in crisis, let a woman have a go at running it. Isn't that the lesson from other high-profile appointments to such diverse organisations as the IMF, now headed by Christine Lagarde, MI5, which appointed Stella Rimington as DG in 1992, and the SOGAT '82 union, which in the 1980s pitted Brenda Dean against Rupert Murdoch in his declared determination to crush the print unions?

'It seems that Liz Forgan was too successful: having skilfully presided over one of the most difficult periods in ACE's history and earned the respect of her peers, the government's response is "thank you and goodbye".'


Liz Forgan is asked to step down as chair of ACE despite being halfway through a historic restructuring of the organisation; embattled culture minister Jeremy Hunt sees his plans for an 'endowments century' threatened by chancellor George Osborne's proposed cap on tax relief for charitable giving; while the UK enters a double-dip recession, galleries close and restructure as funding cuts come into force; Jerwood Foundation plans to auction prize-winning artworks it commissioned for its Jerwood Sculpture Prize; protestors take aim at the National Gallery's entertainment contract with an arms manufacturer; Berlin is filled with protests against gentrification and sponsorship from corporations with Nazi-aligned backgrounds; all the latest news on events, prizes, online resources and more.

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Sara MacKillop 10 in 12 2003


Sara MacKillop

Duncan Wooldridge on an artist of office equipment

Sara MacKillop's subtle practice reconfigures the tools of the office, that site of immaterial labour, and allows its objects to follow their physical logics through to disquieting conclusions.

'MacKillop says these works come about through a process she describes as a "distracted looking", where the body performs routine actions and interactions but the eye and the mind also wander.'



Hanne Darboven

John Slyce

James Benning

Martin Herbert

Zoe Leonard: Observation Point

Laura Allsop

Song Dong: Waste Not

Eliza Williams

Amikam Toren: Moving in the Right Direction

Peter Suchin

Sarah Lucas: Make Love

Colin Glen

Trisha Baga: Rock

Laura McLean-Ferris

Heather & Ivan Morison, Ben Rivers, David Thorpe

Martin Herbert

Tomorrow Never Knows

Maria Walsh

On the Edgware Road

Nick Warner

Andrew J Stooke



Cutting Across Media

David Ryan negotiates appropriation, collage and copyright law

'What Cutting Across Media attempts to bring home is the current asymmetrical contradiction between growing public access, usage, and the tightening grip of international and intellectual copyright.'

Hal Foster: The Art-Architecture Complex

Alex Coles finds an author reluctant to move beyond his bailiwick

'Rather than an art-architecture complex, it would be more accurate to say that what Hal Foster develops is a discourse on a form of architecture that plays out the conceptual debates pertinent to post-minimalist art – his usual subject.'



Artists' Film International

Adam Pugh views the Whitechapel Gallery's invitational screenings

'The works crystallise some current threads in artists' moving image practice: the documentary and the "social turn"; the abiding importance of the performative; and a rekindled interest in language.'

Max Hattler: Shift

Ajay RS Hothi encounters a modern Ballet mécanique

'The film Shift demonstrates a repositioning in Max Hattler's working practice, replacing overtly computer-generated animation for a traditional stop-motion technique.'



Immaterial Production

Larne Abse Gogarty on immaterial labour and its discontents

'The gender politics of this should be essential to how we move forward with an analysis of how the art world is propped up, as Hito Steyerl has stressed, by "loads and loads of hardworking women".'


Letter From LA

Art Capital

Kathy Battista visits a city on the move

'From its rich and varied museum offerings, to a thriving gallery scene and ambitious public art projects, Los Angeles may yet prove to be the most interesting city for art in the US.'


Contracts & Moral Rights

Authentication Revisited

Henry Lydiate on the financial minefield of artwork authentication

'There is growing reluctance among scholars, connoisseurs and experts in the US to undertake such research and writing commissions, and/or to express their professional opinions about authorship of works (publicly or privately). Such fears are realistic, because US law may hold to account the opinion of experts if it can be proved that economic damage has resulted from their opinions that a work is inauthentic (by, say, not including it in their catalogue raisonné of an artist in whose works they specialise).'



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