Art Monthly 360: October 2012

Art Monthly cover
On Making Art

Paul O’Kane

On Functional Art

Mark Prince

The Artist as Cynic

Sophie J Williamson

3rd Paris Triennale

Francis Frascina

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Douglas Gordon 24 Hour Psycho 1993


On Making Art

Paul O'Kane on the act of making and the making of the act

The notion of creativity has been subjected to rigorous critique in the postmodern era but the act of making – the business of negotiating the idiosyncracies of the artist's chosen medium – still remains central. In the digital age, however, the media of mundane labour and creative expression are often the same, so is it time for artists to reconceive the act of making and the making of the act?

'Whether the act of making is treated with reverence, humour or disdain it looms on the horizon of a practice as one of its principle concerns, complicating the distance between the artist and art.'


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Franz Erhard Walther Elfmeterbahn 1964


On Functional Art

When is a chair not a chair? asks Mark Prince

Artists have recently produced a great deal of work that masquerades as functional objects, such as shelves, lampshades or chairs. But is this pretence of functionality actually better interpreted as a means by which the abstract – fine art – values we attach to art itself can be analysed?

'Function cannot evade design, and a Jorge Pardo chair's design, however cheap and mundane, would be perceived as an objective correlative of its art status.'


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Ai Weiwei 2012


The Artist as Cynic

Sophie J Williamson writes in praise of shamelessness

The scandalous Cynics of ancient Greece lived a life free from social restraint, speaking their minds – and indeed performing their bodily functions – in public and thereby exposing the hypocrisy and political motivations underlying most social conventions. Many performance artists, such as Marina Abramović and Cosey Fanni Tutti, have utilised similar techniques, but in an age of voluntary and involuntary surveillance through social networks, how have artists such as Christoph Schlingensief and Ai Weiwei tapped into the spirit of the Cynics for political protest?

'Few artists manage to maintain an outspoken, cynical position. Even those artists who spoke out against the art institution itself, for example Daniel Buren, Hans Haacke and others involved in Institutional Critique of the 1960s and 70s, now find themselves embraced by the establishment. For an artist to truly be a Cynic, the philosophy must not only be present in his art practice but his practice of living in its entirety.'



The Axeman Goeth

After pleasing his political master by cutting the cultural sector over and above the call of duty, Jeremy Hunt, as predicted, has now been promoted to do his worst to the beleaguered NHS. Hunt's final act as culture secretary was to appoint TV executive Peter Bazalgette – the man who introduced British audiences to Big Brother – as chair of Arts Council England, who will report to new culture secretary Maria Miller, herself from an advertising and PR background. Is it all as bad as it sounds?

'Maria Miller has not only been promoted to a cabinet post but has also been given the additional responsibility for women and equality. This suggests either enormous confidence in her abilities on the part of the government, or that it has made of the department something of an Orwellian Room 101.'


The Andy Warhol Foundation consigns all of its remaining 20,000 artworks to Christie's for auction; Arts Council England announces a £15m apprenticeship and internship scheme; novel international arts funding schemes launch; a bevy of galleries open in time for Frieze Art Fair, including major international spaces arriving in Mayfair just as Cork Street is threatened with redevelopment; all the latest news on appointments, events, commissions, prizes and more.

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3rd Paris Triennale: Intense Proximity

Francis Frascina

Copenhagen Art Festival

Patricia Bickers

Johanna Billing: I'm gonna live anyhow until I die

Chris Clarke

Tim Rollins and KOS: The Black Spot

Curt Riegelnegg

Paul Morrison

David Trigg

Lindsay Seers

Martin Herbert

Robert Wilson

Mark Wilsher

Bruce Lacey

David Morris

Seamus Harahan: Cold Open

Adam Pugh

Dave Griffiths: Babel Fiche

David Briers

How to Eclipse the Light

Laura McLean-Ferris

Sung Hwan Kim

Nicholas Warner



Eddie Chambers: Things Done Change

Richard Hylton examines shifting cultural politics for black British artists

'Eddie Chambers offers wider reasoning for Chris Ofili's, Steve McQueen's and Yinka Shonibare's conspicuous success, including how their work came to expediently embody aspects of New Labour's inclusive agenda in which "difference was no longer a signifier of disaffection, prejudice and opposition" but a "decorative motif of diversity".'

Rorschach Audio – Art and Illusion for Sound

David Ryan listens for voices in the static

'Let us state from the outset that Banks himself does not believe in such "hauntings" but is fascinated by both the illusionary qualities implicit in sound that will give rise to such beliefs as well as the perceptual ambiguity that will require a closure, or projection, on the part of the listener.'



Helen Petts

David Briers views a filmic response to the life of Kurt Schwitters

'Helen Petts avoids historically fetishising Schwitters, electing instead to compose her film with the same combination of great care and mercurial randomness with which Schwitters made a collage or poem.'


Letter from Beirut

Artists' City

Omar Kholeif examines the city's unique cultural position

'Beirut is the only city in the so-called Middle East where I can walk down the street and find artists bumping into each other and discussing contemporary issues as if they were as important as politics.'



Catch-22 Inheritance Tax

Henry Lydiate reports on the Kafka-esque nature of the US tax system

'The heirs are caught in a Catch-22/Kafka-esque trap, according to their art lawyer Ralph Lerner: "The IRS is saying you have to pay the tax. If you sell the work to raise the money to pay the tax, it's a criminal offence and you go to jail."'



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