Chicks, sex, money and art
AND SPLATTERS OF PAINT EJACULATED FROM THE STAGE'
The Chicks by Al Steiner
Isla Leaver-Yap attends a private arty party with the Chicks on Speed and Douglas Gordon, and wonders at the display of irony.
ccording to Chicks on Speed. the art star
recipe is a simple one: ‘stir in a concept.
technology as well. whip in some finance and a pinch of cocaine. add in a harmless scandal and you‘ve got a media plan'. In spite of all this fashionable contra-speak. there was of course an original media plan: The Chicks on Speed/Douglas Gordon collaboration was programmed by that wholesome New York art institution MoMA. in an effort to bring the NY hipsters (one MoMA organiser said that‘s ‘the post-college. prenatal crowd‘) back to the museum for Gordon's Timeline exhibition.
On leaving Glasgow School of Art. the young Gordon had promised himself that. as well as having at least one retrospective and a book. he would cut a single by the time he was 40 years old. And on the eve of his June retrospective Gordon delivered the Christopher Just/CoS/Gordon collaboration track. ‘Art Rules”. in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden to more than 800 adoring hipsters. With its lyrics smacking of a 20th century manifesto and a hard-tech bassline remix capable of giving its listeners an anal prolapse. the song in its live incarnation has since travelled from the Manhattan cocktail environs to this side of the Atlantic.
With CoS in tow for the exhibition after-party. the Iidinburgh gig on Halloween night had all the campy trappings of a warped school leavers disco — the Glasgow School artists mingled with the dealers and gallerists in the shadowy Caves. while deputy director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Keith Hartley bopped along to the CoS punk
92 THE LIST 16—30 Nov 2008
sound under a sign saying ‘Ilot ('unt‘. Douglas Gordon appeared dressed in a white Man-from-l)el Monte suit and sporting black contacts that gave him a doe-eyed Bambi aspect. As he clambered up onto the speaker stack. (‘oS duly sang their feminist ideals. all the while stripping down to their perfectly sculpted and freshly shaved bodies. The artist looked on in the role of failed muse. or. tnore likely. arch orchestrator.
The affair. like the exhibition itself. was spectacular and sensational. But. also like the exhibition. the rhetoric was saturated in thin irony. It‘s worth recalling (‘oS‘ earlier single ‘l‘ashion Rules‘. which lambasted the Size Zero elite. The fashionistas rcveIIed in the irony and attention. responding by making it the hit soundtrack of the summer catwalks. and the single was eventually pressed with a cover photograph of (‘oS loyaIIy flanking Karl Lagerfeld.
The art of both (‘oS and Douglas Gordon struts precarioust close to capitalising and become supplicating participants of the very thing they critique. Whether this is edgy or simply entertaining is questionable. Regardless. the Iidinburgh grand linale of Gordon's opening night was undoubtedly the performance of ‘Art Rules' itself. Bathing the audience in white strobes. heavy bass and splatters of paint ejaculated from the stage. the accompanying video of a naked Gordon and (‘oS writhing like satyrs was a minor distraction. Most of the crowd forgot to watch and instead. wowed in ecstasy. joined Keith Hartley under the 'llot (‘unt'.
THE BEST EXHIBITIONS
* Cezary Bodzianowskl - Solo New video works by Poland’s favourite artist, created specifically for this show and taking his experiences of Glasgow as subject matter. Bozianowski creates witty situations that are always tinged with darkness. See review, page 93. Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow, until Sat 25 Nov.
* Douglas Gordon A retrospective of one of Scotland's best known contemporary artists. Gordon’s work plays with ideas of identity and truth, fluctuating in the space between seriousness and capriciousness, with photographs, films and other media filling two main venues in the city. See opposite. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until Mon 75 Jan, and lnver/eith House, Royal Botanic Gardens, until Sun 74 Jan.
* Callum Innes - From Memory This exhibition demonstrates how the problems of high modernism still remain. These paired down and meditative minimal works examine the problem of what painting is, reworking age old problems in new ways. See review, page 93. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 19 Nov.
:1: Graham Fagen Fagen creates what appear to be mini fantastical narratives, stories that belie the historical facts that underpin his work. In pulling together sources and creating new images, he demonstrates that history is a construction that is ever- present but always manages to escape our grasp. See review, page 93. Doggen‘isher, Edinburgh, until Sat 2 Dec.