Friday, April 29, 2011


Alan Charlton, Inverleith House, Edinburgh 2002

Along the single road, it seems that the weather
is often grey. There are the grey paintings of Alan
Charlton, Opalka's white on grey, Kawara's predominantly
dark grey date paintings. The early photographs of Hamish
Fulton avoided the black and white contrasts of the period
for a range of soft tones.

Perhaps this is what Roland Barthes refers to as The Neutral,
a preference for the nuance over choice and conflict, a
"refusal of pure discourse of opposition".

Grey may be a prolonged hesitation before the possibility
of colour. Like a Taoist practice, Barthes' Neutral is a way
"to dissolve one's own image." In his book "In Praise
of Blandness", Francois Julien attempts a recuperation
of this term as aesthetic and ethical neutrality: "Blandness
should be our dominant character trait, since it alone allows
an individual to possess all aptitudes equally and to bring
the appropriate faculty into play when needed."

Whatever else it might be, this fondness for mist and smoke
is a mode of minimalist reduction, an exclusion of the inessential,
a means of letting appear that which appears. Perhaps too, on
the eve of a new art, some artists needed a veil or delay to
prepare themselves for the pure transparency of the concept.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Emese Benczur

Emese Benczúr, Should I live to be a Hundred, 1988- (ongoing). Cotton.

'A similarly nuanced relationship to time is evident in Emese Benczúr's work Should I Live to Be a Hundred: in 1998 she ordered thirty-eight rolls of clothing labels machine-embroidered with the words "day by day". She then commenced sewing below this inscription the words "I think about the future", pledging to repeat the sewing of this phrase each day for the rest of her life. There are, of course, major precedents and inspirations: On Kawara's Today series, Roman Opałka's 1965/1 -  series, for example. Artists working in this way share a certain quality of integration with everyday currents, an integrative atemporality - quiet, slow, unobtrusive yet committed, insistent, and independent - that is the ground zero of the ways in which contemporary artists approach the strangeness of their time.'

(from Terry Smith, What is Contemporary Art?, Chapter 11, 'Taking Time...')

Monday, April 11, 2011

World Minimal Music Festival, Amsterdam, 30 March - 2 April 2011

As part of the 2011 World Minimal Music Festival in Amsterdam, the conductor and director Reinbert de Leeuw performs La Monte Young's 1961 piece, 461 for Henry Flynt. The work consists of the repetition of a sound, with the number of sounds being determined by the performer. For this particular occasion, de Leeuw selects the prime number 461.

He sits down in front of the grand piano installed on the stage in the auditorium at the Muziekgebouw. He focuses. Pause. The audience listens.

He clasps his forearms together as though he is about to support a great weight, and carefully but powerfully brings them down across the keys of the piano. The reverberating clash of notes is absorbed by the architecture - by the wood panelled walls, the seats, the stairs, the audience.

Another thunderous impact of sound ... then another.

Sometimes de Leeuw's head shakes as his arms make contact with the piano, sometimes not. As his arm and body position shifts, different notes colour the sound cluster. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Roger Ackling


The terms of this work are sunlight on wood. The medium
is sunlight focused through a glass lens, the material small
fragments of wood reclaimed from beaches. As minutes
accrue from successive seconds, burnt dots accrue into
lines. The work happens in a mean space between the
properties of wood and the impression of the burn.

There are traces of previous use in the wood (drilled
holes, nails, paint, machined shapes), the pieces vary
in size but all could be held in the hand. The lines give
an account of the objects whilst marking the time of
their making. We are reminded that history does not
offer evidence of the past but the story of the past
told today.

- David Bellingham