NO, YOU’RE PRODUCT
HAYLEY A. SILVERMAN
CURATED BY NICHOLAS TAMMENS
OPENING WEDNESDAY 25 JUNE 6 – 8PM
EXHIBITION 26 JUNE – 19 JULY 2014
We walked through a display suite of a luxury apartment to get here, so it would be a mistake to think that this is not a value-adding exercise—this goes to show that our economic conditions are a primary ingredient in the soup that we sit-in (semi-submerged) called context.
Q: We? (Goners?)
A: Contemporary-subjects—not the pithy topic of an MFA paper, but capital S Subject as Kant (and later Freud) famously did expound in erudite hypotheses on what it means to be a thinking/feeling entity in possession of one’s own subjecthood. Our own cognisant Real Estates. A Cartesian might say that the mind is in Adverse Possession of the body. Squatted. But perhaps you’re like me (not totally heady), you find that the conditions of life posit us within certain roles, a frame of subject.
What to do? Step out? Buy up new Real Estate? A mid-life crisis might indicate grappling with one’s subject—”perhaps a new car?”
“Shit, maybe I’ll start curating instead.” Said I, the cat (and pop!—that’s out of the bag). I, like most people, pant over the anxieties of desires… what to do, buy, how to work, what to write.
But let’s just say that an exercise like this is nothing if not critical. Like mid-life crises, a self-referential or reflexive act is a critical exercise directed firstly at one’s self. Artists are not strangers to thinking about subject positions and world-views—some of them make it their business to turn within themselves and consider the implicitness of conditions. Here, my well-trained hound of a brain starts bringing down the stamp (embossed by the parental language of art history) on artists who work and think this way…”Institutional Critique”… but like a friend recently said, “One of life’s hardest jobs, it turns out, is to make a quick understanding slow.” Simple word limits (let alone exhibition statements) have no business in offering half-baked theses, or spelling out all possible A’s B’s and C’s of a group of objects to which we lovingly apply the term ‘art’. So let me pull myself up on these words and say that perhaps fiction, the oldest conceit, may be a better entry point for reading a “group exhibition” like this—by trying on another’s conceptual garments. After all, these occasions are often no more than cheap suits for trite ideas.
In writing about particular works an artist I know noted that “their empty shape is also rectangular, like their support: a place for the subject, perhaps.“ This brings to mind a frame, but also a room—a gallery (a bank?). This week, while hesitant to finish writing this exemplar, I stood in a gallery in Chelsea where one high-profile art dealer had converted a mechanics garage into a minimal (but functional and financially chic) gallery showroom. A stopover, or tune-up, for a group of objects caught within the slide of social transactions.
 The Prophetic Nymphs, Helen Johnson, 2013
Elizabeth Newman, More Than What There Is, 3ply, Melbourne, 2013
Image: Elizabeth Newman, 2014