Thursday, 20 January 2011

deja-vu view

Finally got to the New Decor exhibition at Garage yesterday (which is touring - with some changes - from the Hayward Gallery in London). I went to see the curator Ralph Rugoff talk about the show some time ago, with the kind of simultaneous Russian translation that reduced everything to pretty mindless sound-bites.

But then, the show itself is quite peculiar. Many contemporary artists work with found objects such as furniture and environments in various ways to subvert their everyday ordinariness; and the best pieces here do indeed resonate to some degree with the 'uncanny'.  But there is something distractingly odd about collecting them all together in one show, even in a space as big and relaxed as Garage. Some of the curation is actually sharper than at the Hayward; but still there is an overall aura of the furniture warehouse, of elderly chairs and tables scattered unceremoniously about in varying degrees of distress and without much logic.

Maybe it is to do with smallness and repetition; once you have seen one piece of furniture cut in half and its edges bandaged you have seen...etc etc. The end result was quite unsatisfying; and not only because I saw it before at the Hayward.

Garage is also running it's first photography exhibition called How Soon is it Now which as the promo says "presents fifteen of the most interesting contemporary artists working with the photographic medium."  They were selected by five curators –Tom Eccles, Liam Gillick, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Philippe Parreno and Beatrix Ruf - as a bit of a statement about what international contemporary photography is, or should, be about.

Which was also weird to see, not so much the work - although it does tend to the highly conceptual - but because (unexpectedly) I have seen this show before too. At the Arles International Photography Festival last year. Which either means I am right there culturally deep in the thick of things; or just very pretentious.

New Decor closes on Feb 6th and How Soon is it Now on Feb 8th.

Cuban artists Los Carpinteros, photo from Artguide Moscow (too many guards to take pictures)

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