Art is robust. We’ve spent at least the last century declaring it dead and yet here it is, making a lot of money, alienating the masses, wearing black and scowling. Perhaps, then, it is a matter of strategy. Art can’t be killed by a manifesto, or the undermining of the fetishised object: its death may, just maybe, be brought about by small gestures.
The story goes like this. During exile on Saint Helena, Napoleon lived in a lodge lined with a particular kind of green wallpaper. The dye used in the wallpaper contained arsenic which reacted to the humid conditions of the island and contributed to the illness which eventually killed him.
It is good and okay to be very sincere. In her essay on awkwardness, Elif Batuman charts the latter half of the 20th century as a collapse into irony; from capitalism as Christian morality in the ’50s, to countercultural resistance in the ’60s, moral bankruptcy in the ’70s, to capitalism as faith unto itself in the ’80s, to the vague disingenuousness of the ’90s.
As the internet lost its shit over Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked nudes, a screenshot of a Daily Mail article emerged on Twitter. It may still be circulating, I can’t be sure. The article, surprisingly enough, contained none of the vitriol one would expect, but rather provided clarification for a pretty commonly used term. ‘The Cloud’, they reminded readers, is not an actual cloud.
Despite the hours of labour-intensive handcrafting that Elizabeth Thomson’s installation Invitation to Openness – Substantive and Transitive States represents, it’s an exhibition that at first glance seems hardly there at all.
First encountering Kalisolaite Uhila’s performance Mo’ui tukuhausia for the Walters Prize made me uncomfortable and angry. A performance in which you perform homelessness seemed inherently exploitative to me.
Initially trained in commercial photography, Yvonne Todd deploys the visual language of female representation to disrupt and unsettle. Todd has exhibited internationally and was the recipient of the 2002 Walter’s Prize.
Seymour will be exhibiting at the Peter McLeavey Pop Up later this month, alongside Yvonne Todd, Barbara Kruger and Sherrie Levine. I recently emailed Seymour to discuss her recent work, her relationship with McLeavey, and the role of politics in her work.
This is what happens. The economy tanks. Investors pull money from risky opportunities. Governments cut and cut some more. The art market, meanwhile, does just fine. Investors want something safe, something tangible, and so they invest in objects. Those without the means to enter the art market, those most affected by massive cuts, can’t do much.