'our creation is that guru; the duration of our lives is that guru; our trials, illnesses and calamaties is that guru. There is a guru that is nearby and a guru that is beyond the beyond. I humbly make my offering to the guru, the beautiful remover of ignorance, the enlightenment principle that is within me and surrounds me at all times.'
Guru Stotram

Monday, 6 June 2011

I went to the Mark Leckey performance at the Serpentine on Thursday evening. A grand job was done of building up the suspense as it didn’t start until half an hour behind schedule. But lucky for me as I was running twenty minutes late myself having spent too long with my webdesigner, Helpful Webhosting – excuse the flagrant plug but their utter wonderfulness warrants it - polishing off my new look website that I’m tickled pink with.

If you’re not impressed with that however, then check out this: It looks like a cat but it is not a cat. It is a lion in the living room. I’ve seen smaller ponies.

It was hot and sweaty at the Serpentine but no less appealing for that. So appealing in fact the girl in front of me fainted. Delightful Liverpudlian Mark Leckey apologised for the heat and the soon to be experienced noise levels. I noticed at that point quite a few people were wearing ear plugs and I thought for a moment they must be the uber-initiates and that the next half hour was therefore going to be torture for the rest of us. But it turned out they were just the suckers who’d bought the ear plugs the Serpentine were selling in the foyer. Money better spent on beer because in actual fact the ear plugs were completely unnecessary and I decided it was entirely lame-arse of the Serpentine to go in for such a piece of nanny-state-ism. It’s contemporary art for goodness sake, embrace it as the artist intended.

BigBoxStatueAction took the form of a gigantic speaker stack positioned opposite the Henry Moore sculpture Upright Motive No 9 (1979) in the Serpentine’s main atrium. The performance involved the speaker emitting experimental music, sampling and live interjections from Leckey at a volume that made my jeans quiver but didn’t seem to adversely affect my ears.

The sound was focused directly at the Moore sculpture apparently in an attempt to elicit some response from it. Leckey himself was studying the Moore for signs of said response fairly closely throughout. Nobody else seemed that interested what Henry might have to say. I suppose it’s investigating whether or not one’s perceptions of the Moore sculpture are altered by the introduction of this significant degree of sound into its immediate environment. Of course one’s perceptions are altered. How could they not be? Perhaps then it was investigating in what way one’s perceptions are altered?

Overall the show has caused quite a critical curfuffle. Jonathan Jones in The Guardian gave it the slating of all time. His review, which seemed to me to be a sensationalist, ill-informed and frankly, personal attack, attracted a staggering 308 comments before the comments page was closed 5 days after the piece went live. More than 30 of the comments were from Jones himself, seemingly digging himself an ever deeper hole, even claiming at one point that he doesn’t like contemporary art. There was also a comment from Mark Leckey who came out of the whole thing with his dignity and reputation entirely in tact, a feat Jones failed to pull off.

A few days later Frieze jumped on the bandwagon with a curiously pompous investigation into the credibility or otherwise of broadsheet art journalism:

The whole thing made me realise how much we all love to take the upper hand. Everyone’s always got to be right the whole time. We’re all so keen for everyone to know how much clever we are than they. But if we’re all so much cleverer than each other then who on earth can ever be cleverest of all? Whoever it is it’s bound to be a man. Tusk, Beverley, childish. Anyway, its gin o’clock now so I’m off. You can argue amongst yourselves about who’s cleverest. I’m quite content being thick.

BigBoxStatueAction 2003 performed by Mark Leckey and Jack to Jack at Tate Britain.

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