Artist : Carroll Fletcher
Title : The Others
Date(s) : 2011
Material : print on Somerset velvet
Credit : All images courtesy of the artists and Carroll / Fletcher
0100101110101101.ORG at Carroll / Fletcher, review by Rebecca Newell
An exhibition with a daily changing title disrupts the viewing experience in new and surprising ways. This, and the consideration of how – and in what ways – subversions of the gallery space, real and notional, can inform artistic output forms a significant thematic part of the current show at Carroll Fletcher.
Self-styled artist provocateurs Eva and Franco Mattes (also known as 0100101110101101.org) present, in the usually safe gallery environment on Eastcastle Street, a strident discordance of fact and fiction, old and new, creation and appropriation, darkness and light. A stuffed cat peers out of a birdcage and into the street, unavoidably reminiscent of the works of artist-cum-taxidermist David Shrigley and the dogs and rats of his celebrated Hayward show. In fact, the work was elsewhere exhibited by the pair as a Maurizio Cattelan. Nearby, an old jar filled with flies sits on a shelf; we are told it was once presented as a Dieter Roth: these are fakes, we are told, and this is not real. Authorship, that mechanism of ascribing value – cultural or monetary – in the western art world, no longer figures; this exhibition rests instead on the subjective experiences of belief, comic hoax and participation. The result is part contemporary exhibition, part curiosity shop.
The theme continues in Stolen Pieces (1995, revealed in 2010) consisting of a museum vitrine – we know once more where we are with a vitrine – and shards of masterpieces stolen from museums all around the world. A Jeff Koons label, a Claes Oldenburg textile, a soldered blob from a Joseph Beuys and a chip from Duchamp’s porcelain urinal have all been liberated from the most institutionalised of institutions. Free from the mummifying grasp of the cathedrals of high culture, the artists tell us that these significant bits and pieces are able to tell their own stories, though they are here once again, in terms of didactic classification. The notion of liberation continues in Reenactments (2007-2010), a live-restaging of historic artist performances from the 1960s and 1970s, including Gilbert & George’s Singing Sculpture.
Elsewhere, images and identities are taken from random personal computers, a webcam suicide is simulated and seemingly-spontaneous outbursts come from video gamers, unaware of their surveillance. Privacy and mutability become increasingly potent themes. At one point, in a small ante chamber on the upper floor of the gallery, an Atari arcade unit is accompanied by a warning notice: this work emits carbon monoxide whilst being played, hazardous if played for a long time. Questions of safety, and public trust, as well as the changing face of the liberal arts swirl as this ugly machine spews out a haze of poisonous gas. The work drags us into participation; culture too, is colourless, odourless and tasteless.
The nature of this exhibition – anonymous, untitled, dimensions variable – most adequately reflects not only the provocative nature of artists hanging on the fringes of a heavily branded art world, but also the increasingly participatory nature of exhibition. It is anonymous, then, but far from faceless.