SERPENTINE GALLERY 1.11.10
Where is the art in this?
Nothing in the room except about 20 'poster paintings' round the wall, each one comprising perhaps 10 or 12 layers of old and battered posters piled on top of one another, the top layer completely message-free. The caption says that they are found posters, topped by a blank sheet painted white, and held stiffly together by wheat paste. I find I want to pick at the stiff curled and bent edges of the posters which tease me with a glimpse of scraps of colour and writing. What have I missed? A circus? A film? A Two-For-One ticket offer?
Why did Liden do it? She’s been described as a space hacker. She is a Swedish artist and has done this in real life too by pasting blank paper over advertising hoardings in Copenhagen. She ‘rethinks the places we inhabit and builds spaces that deviate from their normal functions’. By breaking into our patterned expectations , our ‘default’ position, and then creating ‘nothing’ does she shows us what is missing? A blank space might leave room for thoughts and feelings we normally keep at arm’s length.
An axe tied to a piece of string hangs from the pulley above the door into another room. Here Unheimlich Manover ‘explores the psychological and physical space we inhabit’. It consists of everything in her apartment : cratesbookslaptophammockjeansflaskduffelbagtinsfridge, squashed together on metal shelves slung on scaffolding All is sprayed black and the paint lightly splashes the walls beside it. It’s the black of the negative of a photograph. Or it could be the charred remains of a fire.
Liden says her aim is ‘to divert materials or spaces from their prescribed functions, inventing ways of making these things improper again’. She makes me think of Michael Landy with his immensely powerful installation Break Down , when he hired the redundant and empty C & A store in Oxford Street in 2001 for a few weeks in order to destroy everything he owned. Ten workers filled and refilled a conveyor belt with his stuff, reducing each item to its basic materials and then shredding it. Mass production in reverse. They included the irreplaceable like family documents and valuable paintings, his own as well as gifts from friends. At the end all that was left were bags of rubbish, none of which were sold or exhibited. As we watched mesmerised, above our heads slogans left by C & A urged us to spend and be happy.
Is Liden’s work antisocial and chaotic or is she ‘purposeful, (disrupting) our shared and accepted social norms with a focused radical energy? And Michael Landy?