preview ART

In your head

One-time fire-watcher JACK KEROUAC is the ignition behind a group show which wonders what we see when we

: lOOk. ‘J/o'rl, Neil Cooper

lley. .lack Kerouac? You've got a lot to answer l’or.

Apart l'rom the slew ol' literary descendants who‘ve

attempted to master your beat. speed-rush literary style. you‘ve also inspired the title (it an exhibition at the (‘ollective which looks at ways ol‘ looking at. ll. not always seeing. art.

As any beat bull will tell you. Dew/(trim: Ange/s- was not only one ol~ Kerouae‘s‘ longer works. but also his most blissed-out. ()ur thinly disguised narrator/antlior works as a lire-watcher. observing .\lount llo/omeen l‘or solitary 90-day stretches boo/ing. hallucinating and generally going oll on some wild. xenned-out inner tangents en route. 'lle was looking l‘or something that didn't exist but would if he saw it.’ explains Seer/re Hummer/r curator lain Irving. ‘We wanted to use that as a springboard to looking at how you look at art.‘

The idea came lrorn .tl l'i(1.\'I-.ll()l‘l-I1,L,’ ('ur. a previous exhibition curated by Irving at his home. north ol' .-\berdeen. ‘ln .'\berdeenshire. you‘re always driving around.‘ Irving explains. ‘and always thinking about something completely dil'l'erent to what you're looking at. So we decided to extend that idea l'or this exhibition. re-jigging it and looking at what goes through your head when you‘re looking at art.'

Irving questions how responses to art are influenced: ‘Is it reading the text or what's on the

lain Irving

'We have to decide whether what we see is actually art or just something that looks like it. It's a crazy game.’

Residential care: ’Untitled' by Claire Barclay

gallery notes'.’ And how does it make a dil‘l'erence il~ you're seeing the stuff cold without the benefit of any ol' those aids'."

Maybe more relevant to lateral-thinking guru lidward De Bono than to Saint Jack. but this is where the notions ol‘ ‘good art‘ and ‘bad art’ come into play. ‘An artist may have all these huge concepts about their work.‘ lrving says. ‘but an audience isn‘t necessarily going to see them. because they're going to base what they see on their own expectations and experiences. And when you watch people in art galleries. it‘s a funny old thing because they’re not actually looking at what‘s there in front ol~ them. but have already gone oil on a tangent caused by a whole set ol' signals and external forces.

‘You look at the work and start constructing little narratives out ol’ them.‘ he continues. ‘A lot of the work on show was already in existence. and seemed to fit in with what we were trying to achieve. But when l l’irst approached a lot of the artists [they include Christine lirew. Eva Rothschild. Claire Barclay and Toby Webster] about them doing something in the exhibition. they got very excited about it. but then started gearing their work towards a very definite theme. So while this opens up a whole new layer of meaning. it‘s not really in the spirit ol‘things.‘

Despite Irving‘s good-burnouer approach to things. this peeling-the-banana-ol-perception approach is not intended as a joke. ‘lt‘s a very serious look at how we view art.‘ Irving concludes. ‘There are hundreds of artists out there making things. but we have to decide whether what we see is actually art orjust something that looks like it. It's a crazy game.’ (Neil Cooper)

Seeing Hozomeen is at the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 11 Jul—Sat 1 Aug.


Overheard from behind the installation.

THE ART WORLD'S annual flirt with controversy has begun with the announcement of the Turner Prize shortlist. The line-up takes in Sam Taylor-Wood, Cathy de Monchaux, Tacita Dean and Chris Ofili. Ofili has the cachet of being the first man on the shortlist after last year's girls- only group, and is likely be the source of hype mileage for this year's ‘modern art sucks' media brigade. His liberal use of elephant dung in his paintings is bound to give the tabloids something to chew on.

One also wonders who will appear on the post-award Channel 4 discussion. Last year's star was artist Tracey Emin, who gained notoriety for drunkenly walking off set, declaring boredom with the mutterings of her fellow talkers and her need to join her friends. Mineral water all round this year and, perhaps, a breathalyser off camera. The prize is announced on 1 December.

SCOTLAND'S RICHARD HOUGH PRIZE, however, is creeping up on the Turner. With an award of £17,000, it is just £3000 behind the Turner. Administered by Stills Gallery, the shortlist of six lens-based and photography artists is to be announced in August.

MEANWHILE THE SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL (SAC) has announced that the year 2000 has been designated Year Of The Artist. Joining forces with its south-of-the-border counterpart, the Arts Council Of England, the SAC has a budget of £500,000 to sign up 100 artists in Scotland for residencies ’to demonstrate the important role artists play in society'. AT GLASGOW'S TRAMWAY, five artists Ian Balch, Neal Beggs, Kevin Kelly, Mary Redmond and Rose Thomas - have been selected for the new Dark Lights Commissions for the 1998/9 season, while Maria McCavanna has won a place at Glasgow School Of Art's MFA course courtesy of 3 Habitat scholarship.

In the shit: Chris Ofili's Painting With

Shit On It

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9—23 Jul 1998 THE IJST69