Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Antidote to the tuneless blues.

I went to Tate Britain yesterday to see the Tate Triennial to see what the fuss was about, anybody who follows these things will know that this exhibition intends to show all the latest trends in the British art world as viewed through the eyes of an invited curator. You will also know that this time round it has been slated by all the major London based critics including Time Out’s Sarah Kent and Adrian Searle, I am never one to blindly follow on the coattails of others, especially Kent but for once I am in agreement with her. If this is the best of the moment then we need to look further than the dry nonsense churned out for this show at the Tate to excite us about the British art world.
No doubt the invitation of Beatrix Ruf, the director of the Kunsthalle, Zurich as curator has driven the look of this show rather too heavily. Many of the most successful group shows come by a curator with a lighter touch. Perhaps Ruf did not create the space for a few stylistic surprises in the selection of the art on show, possibly the scale of the show does not allow for a collection of work such as this in such numbers. Maybe the art would be better served with the artists showing their work with only four or five others, unfortunately the nature of the triennial does not allow for this.
On a positive note some works still shine through, Ryan Gander’s cork tile wall is very engaging, Gander has reconstructed the cork tiles from his studio wall. The tiles have over time contained a variety of materials, research and cuttings pinned to them, over time gaps between these collected materials have been bleached by the sun to receive a random patterned imprint on the tiles.
Of note is Muzi Quawson’s slide projected photos of time recently spent with her friend and her family in Woodstock. Initially I just gawped at the photos in a slightly bored manner, I guess I felt I had seen it all before, after a short while Quawson’s simple use of available light and subtle framing drew me in. Funnily enough the photos had me chuntering Beth Orton songs in my head rather than the normal tuneless blues that sits there.
Finally despite my aversion to video in a gallery setting Luke Fowler’s documentary film about the Scratch Orchestra almost made me last the full 45 minutes of itsshowing but without a comfy armchair I gave in. So come on Tate do Luke and his great film a favour and give us some comfy armchairs rather than the usual bench in a darkened room deal.
The exhibition runs until May 14th and its free so go see the good film and photos and ignore the bad paintings.
Also at Tate Britain until April 23rd is Jamie Shovlin’s show in the Art Now space, very subtle and engaging I think.

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