Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Mother's Tankstation, Dublin
23 February - 26 March
Reviewed by: Peter FitzGerald »
David Sherry should probably be terminated, for he holds secrets that should remain secret. A Wikileaks for the visual arts, he may be a danger to art itself. On the opening night of his show at Mother's Tankstation he apparently (I wasn't there) reenacted the poses of five panicked corpses found in Pompeii; the panic and the corpse are surely a metaphor for Sherry's dilemma and his art.
The foundational premise of Sherry's output is the freedom of art. It can create nonsense after nonsense, and the result can be very enjoyable. And so we have the 'deliberately clumsy' depiction of a car stuffed with minced meat (Car full of mince, pen on paper, 2010), or of a 747 attempting take-off but restrained by some hand-held string (747held by string in take-off, markers on paper, 2008). Anything is possible; the downside is that an unwanted equivalence can set in. The artistic imagination grants the liberty to have it all. But, as one of Sherry's drawings seems to warn (Nothing world, pen on paper, 2011), everything and nothing sometimes feel the same, when the choices are as quirky as they are arbitrary.
There is a fascinating glut here, and Sherry appears to be begging for escape from his own imaginative facility Just the title alone of Sometimes wax can landslide in your ear (ink on paper, 2007) suggests significant desperation. And quite a few images have him hybridised with a suitcase, for example Artist in a piece of luggage on a shelf, MMXBerlin (colour photograph of performance, edition of four, 2010); literally this is baggage he cannot rid himself of.
So has Sherry, as he seems to be trying to, called art at its own game? Two more examples are revealing. In one video he is counting cars, obsessively tens of thousands of them recorded over years (Counting cars, DVD, ongoing since 2005). He's collecting, in a way that makes even trainspotting look intellectual; when the video is shown in a gallery where collectors are more than welcome, the utter triviality of Sherry's car-collecting takes on other overtones. In another video he is chasing, and failing to catch, one tram after another - a repeated mock event of mock futility in a crowded Amsterdam streetscape (Running for the tram, De Appel, Amsterdam, DVD, 2010). Each time we see Sherry walk away, sort of dejected. He's faking it. In the whole show at mother's tankstation he's faking it. This is Sherry's dilemma, because he seems very earnest about this stuff, and art-worldly professional - the two DVDs just mentioned, for instance, come each in an edition of six.
There is a strand of art that is ironic. In particular, it infected German art for much of the 1990s, but popped up everywhere. Irony is a refusal to be serious, a refusal to commit. It's a cop-out, and in the hands of the likes of Royal Art Lodge it sometimes has all the wallop of a pun. Luckily, Sherry is not playing the irony game. When he counts cars, or mashes paint and dead bees together in the video Bee Painting (DVD, edition of six, 2010; the resultant painting is also displayed - Bee painting, acrylic [and mashed bees] on board, 2010), or pops post-it notes onto foreheads (Justpopped out, back in 2 hours, Amsterdam, colour photograph, edition of four, 2010 ), what we have is an honest symptomatology. Sherry has found something that's off, maybe even rotten in art, and he's one of our most dedicated diagnosticians.
We're well used now in art to the disruptive gesture, the signal from artist to viewer of who's in control. But what if, as with Sherry, an artist's output is constructed around disruption? Granted, and as flagged above, his work obeys rules - it's in one of Dublin's best galleries, a lot of it is framed, and so on. How, in the end, do you disrupt disruption? Through serious transgression? From Sherry I would love to see and know the answer.
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