Art Gobbledygook

This page is devoted to examples of art-world-speak in the form of gallery press releases, curatorial and artists’ statements etc.

Not gobbledeygook as such, but an outstanding example, in the form of a synopsis, of what Al Rees labelled ‘cultural studies’ filmmaking, ie work that, in its own words, creates a ‘soup’ of cultural references, hoping thereby to generate some kind of critical momentum. The film in question is Beatrice Gibson’s F for Fibonacci (2014).

F for Fibonacci takes as its departure point American author William Gaddis’ epic modernist novel JR (1975). An eerily prescient, biting social satire, JR tells the story of a precocious 11 year-old capitalist who, with the unwitting help of his school’s resident composer, inadvertently creates the single greatest virtual empire the world has seen, spun largely from the anonymity of the school’s pay phone. F for Fibonacci develops a particular episode from JR, in which a televised music lesson is scrambled with a maths class on derivatives inside the mind of its child protagonist. Musings on aleatory music become muddled with virtual stock pickings and a theory of ‘market noise’. Unfolding through the modular machine aesthetics of the video game Minecraft, text book geometries, graphic scores, images from physics experiments, and cartoon dreams, blend with images from wall street: stock market crashes, trading pits, algorithms and transparent glass. As well as the writing of Gaddis, the film draws on the work of little-known British experimental educator and composer John Paynter, who infamously took Cornelius Cardew, John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen into primary schools, and who, along with better known figures such as art critic Herbert Read, was at the forefront of utopian post-war pedagogical movements orientated around child-centerededucation. Following Paynter’s lead, Gibson worked closely with 11 year old Clay Barnard Chodzko on a number of the film’s production elements, commissioning him to design an office in Minecraft and develop an existing character of his, Mr Money. Gibson and Chodzko’s ramblings on the subject of his protagonist lead the viewer through F for Fibonacci’s hallucinatory soup.


Laurence De Leersnyder, Sebastian Gögel

from September 5th until September 26th 2014
Opening Thursday, September 4th from 5PM to 9PM

In Sebastian Gögel’s and Laurence De Leersnyder’s work, matter primes upon form. As these artists explore it, matter appears to be a memory that refreshes itself following its moods. It is surface where gesture becomes inscribed, residual trace of a past phenomenon, manifestation of a symptom. It contains this evident mystery of shape in the making, like the diffuse anxiety of something that has not been entirely spoken. The Germans speak of Stimmung to describe this sens similar to connotation, at the fringe of enunciation.

This expression belongs to a family of counter-forms: empty shapes, everted like a glove, or now tangible by the intermediary of a mould or an imprint. The counter-form calls for another, an outside. Hence we often ask ourselves about the condition that led to the emergence of these works, the reason that gave them life. These shapes have an even more pronounced mysterious and paradoxal character as they are not phantomatic at all but seam, on the contrary, to have grown from their own and for themselves without any intervening hand. This is why the grotesque invites itself that often into the matter-related pirouettes of both artists, like an inverted expression of heroism. To try and “grasp” these forms, one is never far from disconcert or laughter (which sometimes can be the same) whilst facing the failure of sense.

Five Years Gallery
Thursday 31 July, 12 – 9pm
There is a strain of resistance marked by various refusals of a story concerning “innocent powers” and utility. This would be the story of morality, equality and opportunity. The strain of resistance often begins with a radical critique, including those forms of critique which engender a mute refusal or a cognitive refusal. Fear is a duration of supported stasis, structurally conservative and re-enforced by the paranoid state which relies on the aforementioned story to maintain its homogeneity. However a huge amount of energy must be exerted to maintain such apparent idyllic stillness, and thresholds to affect remain, despite the repeated attempts to commodify or weaponize this zone of existence. As a continuation of these threads, Fear + Trembling _ is a project about whatever can queer the metastability of the culture/politic relation. It is a project about different objects, voices and being.

A Speculum that Shines
Saturday 15 March – Saturday 12 April

“All the prophets gazed through a speculum that does not shine, while Moses our teacher gazed through a speculum that shines.” The Babylonian Talmud. This quotation suggests a dualism, a divine visionary union with god and an illuminated instrument for dilating and peering inside bodily orifices. In turn, these two readings evoke some of the well worn dichotomies that underpin the history of religion and thought: body and spirit, physical and metaphysical, sacred and profane, subject and object. It’s not important to think on whether these oppositions are actual. Oppositions are energising. For the purposes of this exhibition the “speculum” of the quotation is the levered spatula and the divine kaleidoscope intertwined. From a rational secular perspective, divine mysteries are simply contradictions – the ecstatic state is a frustration, transcending is an impossibility, we’re fully tethered by our somatic weight. “We are quite as incapable of rising from the ground as an earth-worm,” said Simone Weil. The convulsion is an eruption that mediates the body-object and the body-subject. It’s an impossible negotiation, an un-grounding through reconnecting to the ground. The head down in the mud, in the cloaca, around the u-bend, the nether eye toward heaven.

Rowing, 3 Leighton Place, NW5 2QL

7. No Meaning
5 Months
Saturday 11 January – Sunday 19 January
NO MEANING brings together a random selected group of artists, working in different media but that all are related to a sculptural practise somehow. Anna Barriball (UK), Simona Brinkmann (IT/UK), Dara Birnbaum (US), Bettina Buck (DE), Mark Davey (UK), Ana Genoves (ES/UK) Linda Persson (SE/UK), Laure Prouvost (FR/UK), Natasha Rees (UK) Angharad Williams (UK), Carla Wright (UK). The title of the show is borrowed from a paragraph of Clarice Lispectorʼs work Um sopro de vida; -“Iʼm painting a picture with the name ʻNo Meaningʼ. They are random things-objects and beings that donʼt have anything to do with one another, like a butterfly and a sewing machine”. The desired context of NO MEANING is to show works that do not necessarily have anything to do with each other, they donʼt hold the same cultural value nor do they work with the same concepts. The works and the artists in the show exist within our time. They are all part of the same echo of history. NO MEANING carries a notion of recalcitrance; it wants to be uncooperative and resisting the upper hand of cultural evaluation in and of our time, here and now. Therefore the spatial becomes very important. It acts as a ghost, a spectral event, where the repetition of time within the space appears the same, however the time within that space only creates a notion of the alike even if and when it is not.

Opening event: 4pm – 7:30pm
5 Months in Deptford, Faircharm, 8-12 Creekside, SE8 3DX


Anathema reimagines the microscopic behaviour of liquid crystals undergoing turbulence as a sentient entity that possesses the fingertips and the eyes enthralled by the LCD touch-screens of communicative capitalism. Anathema can be understood as an object-oriented video that isolates and recombines the magical gestures of dream factory capitalism. By bringing the telecommunicating couplings of mother-father-daughter-son-machines and boyfriend-girlfriend-units into contact with the conductive imagery of liquid crystallization, Anathema proposes itself as a prototype for a counter-spell assembled from the possible worlds of capitalist sorcery.

Synopsis of Anathema (2011), video by the Otolith Group, posted 11.10.2013.

Below is a good example of work that is co-terminus with its sources: why make art with a life of its own when you can assemble it from a set of randomly chosen, over-powering, pre-digested components? A perfect example of what Susan Sontag polemicised against in her essay ‘Against Interpretation’: work that can be interpreted via the already known, and that can therefore be dispersed into its components with nothing left over.

‘The multi-disciplinary exhibition draws its name from the 1970 Archie Whitewater song. As the centre of the show the artist presents the sculptural piece oKoKoK, composed of 50 white plaster hoods. Invested with the poise of an undersea coral reef – whose stillness seems to conceal some secret movement – the work strikes an impressive pose across the gallery floor, a vertiginous spillage of form. Softly conical shapes, unquestionably phallic, resonate with the childhood playfulness of Tove Jansson’s Moomin Valley, whilst also recalling the violent costumery of the Ku Klux Klan – the absurd triviality of the dressing-up box tangled with lugubrious depravity.

Accompanying this is Murder by Chocolate, an aural-spatial composition of 12 hand-made glass speakers, through which the voices of Collings-James and a 65-year-old Belizean doorman named Mario, recorded together in New York, read out the dishes from American dessert menus. A husky, seductive atmosphere is established around the instantaneity of physical encounter in counterpoint with the distance created by the recording and the speakers. A mutual language falteringly bridges the gap.

The exhibition culminates on December 5th with an offsite surround-sound video installation. The Descent revitalises a well-worn arrangement: ‘The woman descending the staircase is a myth that has been indulged for decades on and off the screen,’ comments Collings-James. Here, cinematic staircase sequences are layered, leading towards a convulsive crescendo of audiovisual stimulation. This piece, the next step on from Duchamp and Richter, closes the show on an astute and arresting note’.

Cob Gallery Press Release, October 2013. Posted 09.10.2013.

The entry below is more gush than gobbledegook, but as encomia go it is unbeatable!

FRAGMENTS OF KUBELKA  by Martina Kudlek, 233 min, digital video U.S. THEATRICAL  PREMIERE RUN! FILMMAKER AND KUBELKA IN PERSON! Presented with the  support of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York; special thanks to  Andreas Stadler & Hannah Liko. Having previously created fascinating  documentary portraits of seminal avant-garde figures Maya Deren and  Marie Menken, Martina Kudlek has turned her sights on Peter  Kubelka, the legendary Austrian filmmaker, theorist, lecturer, and cook,  not to mention AFA co-founder. And the result is her most ambitious film  yet, an expansive yet focused 4-hour immersion in Kubelka’s work,  theories, personality, and sensibility. While Kubelka’s radical and  pioneering body of films is a highly condensed work of little more than  an hour, his lectures are legendary for their extended length. In  Kudlek’s film these drawn-out presentations on ‘what is cinema’  and ‘cooking as an art form’ are frequently illuminated by  archaeological objects from Kubelka’s eclectic collection. He considers  his ongoing collecting to be an expanded film practice that explores the  evolution of humanity. Delving deeply into the numerous, incredibly  varied, and yet gracefully integrated facets of Kubelka’s life,  FRAGMENTS OF KUBELKA is both a vibrant portrait of a unique and  legendary figure and a penetrating inquiry into his views on cinema,  art, and experience. “Martina’s film on Kubelka is the best film on any  artist that I’ve ever seen. The trick she used was so simple and so  difficult: she kept herself out of it. What she gave us is pure  Kubelka.” Jonas Mekas “Kudlek invites us to an intimate meeting  with Johann Sebastian Bach, or equivalent, and speaking our language.  Stan Brakhage of the conspicuous ego considered him the greatest  filmmaker. I’m content when anyone hits their stride, Oscar Micheaux!  and he’s surely the greatest Peter Kubelka we could have, he who taught  us how damn interesting perfection could be.” Ken Jacobs “How do you  portray a Renaissance man? With the perseverance of a skilled Nature  filmmaker, Kudlek observed Peter Kubelka for many years with her  hand-held camera and gave him all the time in the world to expose us to  his unfolding vision. As a result she presents a four-hour masterpiece  about one of the most influential artists in film history and one of the  most original thinkers and critics of our times.” Peter Tscherkassky  Both Martina Kudlek and Peter Kubelka will be here in person!

Projecting Projection. Sandra Gibson & Luis Recoder

Film projection exceeds the limits of its concept as a mere functional apparatus for the mechanical performance of cinematic works. A concept of “projection performance” is, therefore, inherent to the medium which performs not only the negation of its mediation and thus subordination to the celluloid material, but also its resistance as a passive carrier. (Projection projects its ambivalence to the material, intermittently hesitating between its slavish animation of a dead object and its absolute indifference as to whether the object is already dead or missing.) To perform the already performed is to raise this element of resistance to a second degree awareness. In light of this awareness, the concept of projection performance becomes a tautological concept in which “performance” merely doubles and thus foregrounds the specific functioning of the projective apparatus.

To work as an artist within a certain tautological understanding of projection-as-performance is precisely to perform and reperform ad infinitum the already performed. Film projection has always relied on a projectionist to perform and reperform ad infinitum (ad nauseum) the already performed and preformedfunctioning of the projective apparatus. An aesthetics of projection performance is an apprenticeship to this dedicated custodian of darkness (of nothingness, of disappearance, of invisibility, of transparency). To work or labor in utter darkness is one thing (i.e., to make a bare something out of a bare nothing), but to shape and reshape the intermittent im/palpability of this void through the tyranny of cinematic time is another thing, one which incessantly haunts in its stubborn resistance to the resistance. To break free from this temporal tyranny of narrativized time – or at least to slip beneath its gaze – a shift in the projective location presents itself as a possible exit, though by no means an escape.

Still performative, though in the absence of the artist-projectionist, a “filmless” film projector is exhibited in the open space of a gallery. The projector projects nothing but its own source of light. To emphasize that the projector is indeed projecting projection, a screen has been placed directly in front of the projector, intercepting on its surface the light-and-shadow work of a spinning film reel attached to the projector’s front arm and positioned so as to bisect the illuminated rectangle. The modified film projector brings into relief the concept of projection performance not only in the absence of artist-projectionist, but also in the absence of vulgar cinematic time. However, this does not mean that our film installation tableaux is without time, nor is it timeless. For it resists the time of cinema in search of its own time.

Courtesan Festival Film Video and Media Art, April 2013:

Thanks to Cathy Rogers for drawing my attention to this. Posted 19.02.2013.

From the Jonathan Viner Gallery’s entry on Emily Wardill:

In her enigmatic films, Emily Wardill explores how social meanings are projected onto objects. Presenting a blurred concept of truth and fiction, symbolism and reality and rationality and emotion, Wardill unlocks the hierarchical and closed structures of knowledge; deconstructing visual modes of communication and offering alternative meanings for their aesthetics. Her desire to empower the viewer is premised upon these explorations, as she explains, “I am interested in this possibility, or responsibility, of enacting your ideologies, and how that can happen in a way that’s fictitious. When you summon up material reality in your language, why does that always take on this fictitious dimension?” ( Posted 18.02.2013.




T: 310 494 1177

Javier Garcerá
La menor distancia

Running through January 5th at the Isabel Hurley Gallery, Malaga. Galería Isabel Hurley

Isabel Hurley Gallery
39 Paseo de Reding, ground floor
Malaga  29016

In La menor distancia , Javier Garcerá (Puerto de Sagunto, 1967) formulates a utopian proposal in order to confront us with the search for a state of reality that conveys those indescribable qualities impossible to grasp without the concurrence of intuition. A few exquisitely-made pieces combining non-antagonistic opposites give rise to a subtle and elegant exhibition with considerable emphasis on the formal dimension, as it embodies both the argument and strategy, and consists in suggesting a perspective of the imprecise, diffuse, changing and multiple space that provides a glimpse at the flaws emerging in the supposed evidence. Its appreciation requires a vigilant posture and the artist therefore appeals to the senses. It is necessary to rid oneself of all prior experience, to come naked, as a neophyte, and experience the mutual transference that takes place between the beholder and the artwork, without any mediation that might buffer the pure and integral perceptive capacity required to capture the mutable infinity.  In Garcerá’s own words: “…it is a process of intensification of perception proposed as a means of creating a state of conscience in which reality can be perceived more intensely, more serenely”. Or, as G. Didi Huberman wrote in Lo que vemos, lo que nos mira (What We See, What Watches Us): “The simple opening up to the perception of a spectre of something hardly classified”¾a quote the artist included in the catalogue of the exhibition significantly titled Take off your shoes.

Impermanence, as an essential and genuine characteristic of a universe governed by the relative, is a core theme in this exhibition, which ultimately refers to approaching life and the person, after having renounced the circumstances that surround and limit him; that impermanence, however, is the only thing that remains constant in any life cycle, developed in a continual and changing flow with beginning and end. Then why cling to anything? The process undergone to reach this direct observation of things is a path of liberation from everything that not only subjects us every day, but also lies between the primeval layer of reality and the individual. This is a fundamental question that arises when the subject encounters life and himself; the doctrines of Western thought have viewed it as such ever since that formulated by Heraclitus summed up in the famous Panta rhei, an image of becoming animated by opposites; the basis, likewise, of the ancient oriental philosophy of Taoism -Yin and Yang- with such a penchant for meditation and contemplation. Like Plato, later, Heraclitus did not disparage the use of the senses. To the contrary, he considered them essential for acquiring knowledge of reality; and he defended subjectivity as a stage for playing out the contention between the real and the apparent.

The artist’s approach to the work consists in appealing to the realm of the senses, after first ridding himself of all contaminated content. Once he is one with nature he inhales its aroma and lets it envelope, invade and move him primarily by its essence, transferring those stimuli onto the different media through the most direct and faithful techniques of its rendering. In addition, with a dynamics of opposites that are not incompatible, such as simplicity and complexity, sobriety and saturation, fragility and forcefulness, micro and macro, spiritual depth and sensuousness, sumptuousness and austerity…he combines a series of elements that are part vegetable and part fossil, part cellular and part stellar, shapers of systems, following a pattern not extraneous to the fractal. While it is true that there are specimens of native local flora among the most identifiable elements, the workmanship and the media evoke the Far East with its lacquers and bronzes, and in the handling of landscape, which echoes an exuberant and vibrant nature allowing one to feel its pulse and rhythm. To Javier Garcerá: “The materiality of the work emphasizes visual elements that reinforce a sort of unfathomable quality and the idea of change and movement, in form as well as light and colour, in an endless tonal variety, which causes the formal structure to constantly vanish and reappear, depending on the point of view”. This leads to “the impossibility of feeling as if one owned the image that the work originates, since we are no longer aware of the limits of speech, but subjected to the experience of the impossibility of seeing.”

The notions of system and scale, foremost in the show, also refer to the need to establish an order of priority capable of placing precedence on the essential.

Let’s take María Zambrano’s advicein a text also quoted by the artist, Algunos lugares de la pintura (Some Parts of Painting):

“All we can do now is surrender and wait; wait patiently without expectations, spending time, losing time. Because the work is a temporary dwelling that holds mystery, enigma, in its bosom, the “ghost” that succeeds in surfacing for an instant before it is swallowed by the current, only for an instant, for it is not befitting of a ghost to last.”
Posted 18.02.2013.

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