Friday, February 06, 2009

Rodney Graham, Loudhailer, 2003

Isabelle Pauwels, B&E, 2008

Tim Lee, Untitled I (The Pink Panther, 2049) 2007

Gareth Moore, Uncertain Pilgrimage: Gesellen Work, 2006/2007. Various scrap wood including signpost from The Eden Project, stake from an abandoned goldmine, scrap from Donald Judd's studio, European paddle, wind fallen branch, metal handle, screws, string.

Jeff Wall, Hillside, Sicily, 2007

Lunch with Michael Turner at the brand new identity-conflicted British-themed gastropub down Broadway at Ontario, whose weathered wooden tables clash with the black naugahyde couches that used to belong to the bankrupt Italian cafe previously occupying the space. Big satisfying plates of bread, meat, cheese, and pickled condiments. Discussion veers all over the place, from Isabelle Pauwels' superb videos at Presentation House, to Johan Lundh's deeply felt but not particularly well justified dissatisfaction with most Vancouver curating (viz. recent cryptic Facebook carping), to Kathleen Ritter's new regional survey show at the VAG, to Gareth Moore at Catriona Jeffries, and, in a roundabout way via Tim Lee and Rodney Graham, to the question of making artworks as "instances of a style or a series" as opposed to making autonomous works that exhibit little or no apparent visual resemblance to one another. The Gareth Moore show works well as an ensemble, or a suite of sculptures, but it is also easy to imagine it broken down into so much discrete merchandise: this art-object to a private collector, this one to the VAG, this one to the AGO, and so on, distributed like Lego blocks, each work carrying within it residual traces of the "look" of Moore's sculptural practice as a whole (weathered surfaces; abraded color and texture; evidence of the material's passage through time; complex allegorical layering). As opposed to, say, a Rodney Graham tree photograph, his film projection Loudhailer, and one of his Judd Freud slipcases: three works that could have been made by three totally different artists. Or, for that matter, Jeff Wall's striking Hillside, Sicily, a work that looks more like a Lee Friedlander desert picture than an instance of "Wall style." ("Style" in this case signifying a negative aesthetic judgment, the reduction of rich artistic subjectivity to the orchestration of a series of tropes). What I take from Wall's best (largely post-1990) work is the injunction to not develop anything remotely resembling a series. Thus the unnamed online photography magazine who recently returned my portfolio with a note saying, we have no real sense of how this stuff fits together, you just make pictures of things. . . .

Well yes, exactly.

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