Art Monthly 390: October 2015

Art Monthly cover
George Barber

Interviewed by Maria Walsh

Art Pilgrims

Francis Frascina


Andrew Hunt

Istanbul Bienali

Rob La Frenais

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George Barber The Freestone Drone 2013 video


Shouting Match

George Barber interviewed by Maria Walsh

George Barber was known as a pioneer of 'Scratch' video art in the 1980s but has recently embraced issues-based video installations. Here he talks about his time at St Martins in the 1970s, his struggles with structuralist dogma, the loneliness of the viewer in today's art world, and the benefits of combining art with narrative.

'I think the times and the experience of time have changed – you can't make work like Chris Marker or take time like Jean-Luc Godard any more, people are a bit more fidgety.'

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Jeff Koons Puppy 1992 installed at Guggenheim Bilbao


To be a Pilgrim

Francis Frascina takes the Camino of Culture

Thousands of spiritual pilgrims have journeyed along the northern coast of Spain for centuries, fulfilling the church's goal of reinforcing Christianity in the region after Charles the Great drove out the Muslim Moors. Are today's art pilgrims, who flock to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim or the soon to open Botín Centre in Santander, not also reinforcing these powerful dynasties' market-driven view of art?

'One group of pilgrims, desiring use-value, search walls and pavements for the guiding symbol of the scallop shell, the traditional marker of their long Camino route. Another group, steeped in exchange-value, search for symbols to guide them to more immediate gratifications.'

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'When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes' 2012 CCA Wattis, San Francisco


Curator, Curation, Curationism

Andrew Hunt on the A to Z of curating

While the notion of curating has now entered everyday discourse, the large-scale exhibition-making institutions – museums and biennales – seem stymied by their need to bring in ever larger audiences. So does the recent spate of books on curating reveal a need to put the exhibition itself back at the heart of critical thinking?

'With fundraising the chief focus for senior management, debates at artistic-director and senior-curator level in the UK about testing the limits of "curating" and "the curatorial" have taken a back seat.'

From the Back Catalogue
The Co-dependent Curator Paul O'Neill on the dysfunctional relationship between independent curators and institutions



Armageddon Deferred

Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader of the Labour Party has led not to the sky falling in, but a national plan for the arts inspired by the fact that it is 50 years since Labour's Jennie Lee produced the first and only white paper on the arts. So what is Corbyn's policy for the arts?

'Those in the arts have been given much to ponder and some reason for hope by Corbyn's arts policy document, his most coherent policy statement so far.'


Culture minister Ed Vaizey launches a narrowly defined white paper on the arts; a new survey reveals a further drop in local government support for the arts; Italy rings the changes in its museums; Anish Kapoor's Versailles struggles continue; protests continue at the National Gallery over privatisation and Tate Britain over sponsorship; the latest news on galleries, events, appointments, prizes and more.

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Jonathan Hoskins Recovery Position 2015 performance


Jonathan Hoskins

Chris Fite-Wassilak on the London-based artist's social practice

Jonathan Hoskins is part of a growing set of artists for whom direct social action, tempered by discussion and a consistent problematising of the issues at hand, is the work itself.

'For Hoskins, the word "community" implies a conceptual containment, a smoothing-over of the dissent, disparities and disagreements within what has been identified as a group; instead, he describes his central concern simply as "the problem of sharing a possible future".'

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Adrián Villar Rojas The Most Beautiful of All Mothers 2015
14th Istanbul Bienali


14th Istanbul Bienali: Saltwater – A Theory of Thought Forms

Rob La Frenais

Everyone is an Curator

Matthew Bowman

Paul Neagu: Palpable Sculpture

David Briers

Agnes Martin

Mark Prince

Michael Krebber

Neil Zakiewicz

Moyra Davey: You're a nice guy to let me hold you like this

Kathryn Lloyd

Jenny Holzer: Softer Targets

Paul Carey-Kent

Josh Kline: Freedom

David Trigg

Benedict Drew: KAPUT

Tom Emery

London Round-up

Martin Herbert

Edinburgh Round-up

Catherine Spencer



Dave Beech: Art and Value – Art's Economic Exceptionalism in Classical, Neoclassical and Marxist Economics

Alex Fletcher finds art irreducible to commodity status

'Dave Beech contends that there is a peculiar convergence in the pronouncements by both mainstream economics and Marxist cultural analysis that "art is, always has been, or has recently become nothing but a commodity". Beech’s wager is that this assumed certainty of art's commodification is too often simply asserted rather than "sufficiently tested".'

Michael Craig-Martin: On Being an Artist

Gilda Williams can't help but recommend the artist's essays

'This is Craig-Martin at his best: astute, informed, telling art history as eyewitness. His words prompted my recollection – as an art critic in the 1980s – that the yBa's decaying cow heads and stinking kebabs spoke of a point-blank rejection of collector-chasing art in the painting-heavy decade, pursuing instead what Craig-Martin calls "a dynamic bond of mutual competitive support".'


Letter from St Petersburg

The Russian Ark

Brian Hatton on four attempts to surpass the city's imperial heritage

'The new Hermitage annex may be welcome, but is it a model for a future Mir Iskusstva in which art gets made and shown in different ways and places, replicas become virtually perfect, digital collections kept "in the cloud" and visited online?'

Letter from Sofía

Collage City

Jamie Sutcliffe finds an engaged public in Bulgaria

'Slaveykov’s fountain seemed to illustrate a broader public tendency to engage, reflect upon or contest Bulgarian histories, both personal and political, through the instrumentalisation of the sculptural memorial.'

Letter from North Norway

Disappearing Acts

Maeve Connolly visits the Lofoten International Art Festival

'"Disappearing Acts" addresses a moment in which we are "drowning in our own goo". This sticky stuff is a consequence of various forms of mining and refining, involving images as well as natural resources, with the Lofoten Islands framed as "a pictorial fantasy" where "image technology and geological form seem to perform each other".'


Artist's Resale Right

Global Thinking

Henry Lydiate on efforts to globalise droit de suite

'Artists' bargaining power in the global art ecosystem is weak or non-existent because the vast majority of artists operate as freelance solo practitioners and, unlike other creative artists, visual artists only occasionally collectivise to create common or shared interest groups or unions or associations to speak with a united voice to their industry bosses.'



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