Sunday, 24 February 2013

International Art English Exposed

click here to go to source
A user's guide to artspeak: Andy Beckett The Guardian, Sunday 27 January 2013 19.00 GMT 

"Why do so many galleries use such pompous, overblown prose to describe their exhibits? Well, there's now a name for it: International Art English [IAE]. And you have to speak it to get on. Andy Beckett enters the world of waffle ... The Simon Lee Gallery in Mayfair is currently showing work by the veteran American artist Sherrie Levine. A dozen small pink skulls in glass cases face the door. A dozen small bronze mirrors, blandly framed but precisely arranged, wink from the walls. In the deep, quiet space of the London gallery, shut away from Mayfair's millionaire traffic jams, all is minimal, tasteful and oddly calming.

Until you read the exhibition hand-out. "The artist brings the viewer face to face with their own preconceived hierarchy of cultural values and assumptions of artistic worth," it says. "Each mirror imaginatively propels its viewer forward into the seemingly infinite progression of possible reproductions that the artist's practice engenders, whilst simultaneously pulling them backwards in a quest for the 'original' source or referent that underlines Levine's oeuvre."
If you've been to see contemporary art in the last three decades, you will probably be familiar with the feelings of bafflement, exhaustion or irritation that such gallery prose provokes" ... Click here to read this article
All this is not a phenomena confined to the High Art venues of  London, New York, Paris, Berlin etc. .... Its just as prevalent in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and even Darwin. Sometimes IAE is applied to Aboriginal art and when you read it you might wonder where has all the 'placedness' gone? 
International English by itself tends to be disempowering when it blends-in and blands-down the vernacular wherever it is used. The project, seemingly somewhat imperial by nature, is predisposed to the 'Englishness' implying some kind of hegemonic authority in operation from elsewhere. When it is applied to cultural production it seems we enter even deeper water.

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