Two works in the Tate Triennial I liked a lot – Wallead Beshty’s glass cubes (which I’d seen already in the Whitney Biennial last year) and Simon Starling’s Three White Desks. What links them is the way that each sets up a process then lets the world and the action/decisions of other people take their course – the result of this framed resignation being the work. Beshty’s glass cubes are perfect glass constructions packed into fedex boxes and shipped without further ado (and with no extra packaging) to galleries for exhibition. Arriving smashed, cracked, and with corners crushed to varying degrees they’re displayed on their boxes, their properties as objects arising in large part from the accidents in their shipping. The title of this piece gets longer with each showing, the name being a trace of the journey the works have undertaken – a travel itinerary which produces and describes the pieces. A second work by Beshty, and one I hadn’t seen before, uses much the same modus operandi and comprises large photographic prints made after he has sent blank/unused films fedex from one country to another – the films bearing the trace of the X-Ray damage as the packages cross security screening, the prints swathes of discolouration and patterning arising from the journey. Not so much art objects as indices for the side-effects of transit, marks/maps of events we can only imagine, guess at the works describe a wasteland, an anoymous transit zone without picturing it in any way.
Simon Starling’s work in the Trienial I liked a lot too. You’re confronted with three desks, two of them undeniably white, but the third made from unpainted/unvarnished timber. The title – Three White Desks – already serves as a kind of problem/question. You notice that the desks are similar in some ways… descending in size and (as with the Beshty) displayed on the packing crates in which you assume they’ve arrived at the gallery, still bearing stickers for their delivery to Starling. Each desk looks somewhat like the others but in the details, scales and materials there are clear differences, degradations, fallings away. In the end it’s one of those works where you more or less have to read the wall label to get much further (unless you already know that narrative of its origin from another source). In this case the text confirms that these are three desks made by three different fabricators at the instruction of Starling, who’s ‘plans’ supplied to them comprised only photographs at different resolutions of a desk designed by Francis Bacon. The larger desk, with most detail arose from the biggest of the images. This mapping of properties in real objects to levels of digital compression rang a lot of bells for me, both re The Broken World and some fragments I’ve been working on since which confuse the ontological systems of real physical and digital/filmic spaces. More on that another time no doubt.
Vlatka sent links to this work by Ruth van Beek which we both liked a lot. The collages, especially ‘Mensen’ are lovely. In London we also saw a good works-on-paper show by Abigail Reynolds at Seventeen gallery on Kingsland Road – it runs to March 14th. At the other end of Kingsland Road was an interesting show at The Russian Club Gallery from John Stezaker & William Horner. It just ended though.
Listening to Adrian Klumpes – Be Still. It’s been in my iTunes for more than a year I think but I never listened to it until earlier this week. I don’t even recall who gave it to me. It’s lovely.
I know I am not often linking to fashion designers from this notebook. But this collection from Christopher Kane stopped me in my tracks.
Picture at the very top above is Simon Starling, Three White Desks, 2008-09. Photo: Tate Photography