Kid Koala

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A truly mesmerizing bit of turntablism from Kid Koala.

Susan Collis, Since I Fell For You, Ikon, Birmingham

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Enter, us 2009

Susan Collis Since I Fell For You
Ikon Gallery
1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HS
31st March - 16th May 2010
Tuesday - Sunday 11am-6pm

Susan Collis's Since I Fell For You is her first show in a public gallery and brings together a collection of works spanning from 2002 - 2010. The show occupies one floor of the 3-storey space - one of the Midland's longest-standing and best-respected contemporary art spaces, which has in recent years played host to the likes of Martin Creed, Ryan Gander, John Wood & Paul Harrison, Lisa Milroy and Richard Deacon.

Entering the show uninitiated, the viewer could not be blamed for believing the gallery was still installing - Collis's work appears like the incidental ephemera of exhibition installation and the supports that are usually concealed by the exhibited artwork. This Too Shall Pass is a new work in which the artist has painstakingly recreated a wall from her studio - scratches and scrapes in the paint work, bent nails, Rawlplugs, a missing door and it's paint-stained frame. Upon closer inspection of the pieces (and the exhibition guide) the scratches and scrapes are revealed to be not the products of wear and tear, but an immaculately produced simulacra comprised of precious wood veneers and mother of pearl. The Rawlplugs are precious stones, the screws and nails, white gold or platinum. Enter, Us, above, is made of 18 carat white gold, white sapphire and turquoise.

While signaling the support materials and detritus of a typical exhibition set up on one hand, the work also nods towards a certain Lo-Fi aesthetic prevalent within contemporary art in which pieces of refuse and detritus are carefully selected and imbued with a sculptural quality (think Ian Kiaer, Sara Mackillop or Sean Edwards for example). Created using craft techniques of incredible skill, there is a double-play at work in the laborious creative process set to work to ultimately create an illusion of utter banality to be found throughout the exhibition - what the artist has described as being in a state of 'it is and isn't'. 1

There is a sensual, aesthetic delight in witnessing such cleverly chosen materials so expertly manipulated. Pieces such as Continue Whispering 2010 have the appearance of piles discarded timber (bent nails and all), broken door frames, and bent and misshapen carpet grippers disregarded while screws poke out from under the walls. It's also nice to see an early precursor in the shape of Work On It, 2002 - a sourced and purchased table with imitation stains and smudges akin to those of a painter's table rendered in vinyl upon its surface.

I am, however, left wondering where it all goes. Beyond the surface and the trompe l'oeil, what is there left? It's easy to see why these works have become popular in art collections - a perfect blend of cultural and material capital that's sure to grab the attention of the magpie-eyes of the contemporary art market's elite. Beyond the sheer spectacle of such ornately made objects and attention to detail, there is little left for the mind to work on.

A previous project, SWEAT 2008, at Seventeen Gallery, London, involved a sweatshop-style scenario in which a gallery full of assistants slaved to create Collis's beautifully crafted ink-patterned paper laundry bags (below). Laying bare the production behind the work hints towards a form of critique that I do not find present in the pieces here. Having first seen these pieces at last year's Frieze Art Fair, I am left wondering if they are more than quirky fetish objects to be prized by super-rich art collectors.

On Vacation 2008 (Detail)
Biro inks and pencil on paper

1 Susan Collis, exhibition guide.

Moon Wiring Club, ASDA The Music

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As a follow up to my recent post about The Wire's Salon Series at Cafe Oto, I thought I'd let you know about this fantastic 2-part mix by Moon Wiring Club.

Delving through retrograde electronics and synth sounds seeped in the fuzz and distortion of the ancient TV sets I remember from watching Channel4 Schools programs in primary school, the mix is laden with samples taken from the television of yesteryear, the music reminiscent of theme tunes and jingles of 70s, 80s and 90s prime time.

You can download the mix and some lovely cassette-tape artwork absolutely free from here.

Image from djfood.org/.

Marcel Duchamp's Problem With No Solution

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White to Play and Win

In 1943 gallery owner Julien Levy invited Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell and Yves Tanguy to present a selection of miniature artworks in an exhibition entitled Through The Big End Of The Opera Glass. Asked to each submit an image for inclusion on the exhibition announcement card, Duchamp - a world-class chess player - created the problem shown above, printed backwards with the instruction 'White to Play and Win'. To an even moderately experienced player it seems as though White will surely be able to win (crossing the pawn currently positioned on the B7 square to gain an advantage by promoting to a queen).

Printed on the reverse Duchamp included a hand-drawn image of Cupid, it's arrow pointing to the B file when one follows the written instruction, "Look through from the other side against light," and the images are overlaid with the chess board now right-side round (a black square in the bottom left - below). However, rather than indicating a solution, this merely adds to the image's ambiguity. Attracting much analysis, many experts have concluded that this problem, in fact, has no solution. Exhibiting his trademark mischievous and playful sense of humour, the artist clearly anticipated the hours many chess journalists and even Grandmasters would spend pouring over the quandary to no avail.


As Francis Naumann concludes in the below linked article:
The rigor and intensity of this endgame problem stands in sharp contrast to the means by which Duchamp presents us with a hint of its solution: a cupid aiming his arrow toward the ground (or into the sky, if we consider that the cupid is presented upside-down). Cupid is, of course, the mythological god of love, and his arrow is usually aimed in the direction of an amorous target; a direct hit can cause the recipient to fall deeply and blindly in love. Knowing this, and knowing that when Duchamp designed this brochure he had recently met and fallen in love with Maria Martins— a Brazilian sculptor, married with three children, and in almost every respect, unattainable—one is tempted to speculate that Duchamp might have had a personal situation in mind when he decided that a cupid should indicate the path to follow in pursuing a solution to this vexing problem. Duchamp was well known for having said: “There is no solution, because there is no problem.” In the end, the problem that he faced with Maria Martins was insurmountable, demonstrating that in both chess and life— and perhaps in art as well—there are, indeed, problems without solutions.
Problems which are, never-the-less, compelling, all-consuming and deeply engrossing.

For more on Duchamp the Chess Player I heartily recommend watching the excellent and enthralling Jeu D'Échecs Avec Marcel Duchamp (1963) from UbuWeb's extensive video archive, in which the artist plays the game with avant-garde composer Edgar Varese and discusses his work.

For more on Duchamp's Problem With No Solution click here.
 
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