The Morton Feldman exhibition at IMMA has returned high drama to high modernism; the works chosen for the show are exquisite. Each piece sits so well within the framework of the show that it has to be seen with a mind to the music of Feldman; something IMMA adeptly managed with a concurrent concert series of Feldman’s work. It makes one nostalgic for shows that are actually linked to their original premise. Speaking of modernist masters, not that he is one but he certainly reminds a lot of people of one in particular, the recent Liam Gillick opening and ‘discussion’ at Kerlin was busy – I am not using the inverted commas here incorrectly, I am being facetious. The bizarre paring of Isabel Nolan and Gillick saw Nolan laid out as bait and to be honest one couldn’t imagine a more awkward pairing; in saying that, she managed in the face of adversity to put her point across. At one point the chair did mention the unmentionable – Donald Judd. A collective gasp issued from the audience, yet Gillick, obviously well used to this jibe, adeptly manoeuvred away from the referent, stating that if you actually saw the two artists’ work side-by-side you would see they were vastly different. It’s probably a bit like having Superman and Clark Kent in the same room at the same time.
The Goldsmiths graduate would have no doubt shrieked in horror at the unfortunate Goldsmiths MA documentary on BBC Four. I had to hide behind the couch at several points myself. I suspect a conspiracy afoot in the media to make art and those interested in it look as ridiculous as possible. Most of these documentaries highlight the terribly stupid aspect to art while the rest of them treat the viewer like an imbecile – I am thinking here of Alastair Sooke’s Modern masters on BBC One. It came across like art for tweenies – appealing to neither the art literate nor the cynical. Plus I have to despair at his choices: Picasso, Matisse, Dalí and Warhol – we seemed to wander into the Taschen school of how-to-tie-art-into-the-everyday-and-make-the-masses-give-a-crap. They don’t and they won’t, better to buy a book on giant asses and be done with it. I am not referring to the fact that Picasso et al were giant asses – I am sure they were. What I mean is literally a book of giant asses – Taschen publishes one and it is well worth a look.
For those of you longing for a slice of the truly contemporary you may be interested in the fact that Thisisnotashop, which recently vacated Benburb Street, has maintained its gallery status in a non-site capacity and is showing in the No soul for sale exhibition at Tate Modern. This exhibition premiered at Dia Art Space, New York, and at the time gleaned extremely favourable reviews in the New York Times, Catherine Barragry’s performance featuring as a highlight. Barragry never disappoints and is to my mind constantly creating high-calibre art that manages the increasingly unlikely task of actually adding something to art practice. Her recent piece Urban encampment saw the artist set up an encampment in what Barragry referred to as an ‘urban park’ – a space set aside from the city within the city. The participants were awakened at dawn with a sound-piece. This unusual mixture of canonical art, which we find featuring on the programme of many Irish museums, when paired with this outsider underbelly does make for an exciting art experience.