Fred Tomaselli, ‘Study for Gravity in Four Directions’, 2001. [enlarge]

Fred Tomaselli, ‘Study for Gravity in Four Directions’, 2001.

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REVIEW

Plunder: Culture as Material

DCA, Dundee
2 November – 11 January

Reviewed by: Dan Howard-Birt »

The starting point for this exhibition, Kurt Schwitters' Mz. 299, is a delicate balance of chance and choice, one that results in a composition that is fluent, edgy, generous and beguiling. Schwitters' studio provides a site for a strict approach to the transformative power of picturemaking, while at the other end of the twentieth century Paul Pfeiffer's John 3:16 substitutes the studio-based discipline of Merz for the court and rulebook of basketball. A spinning ball is locked dead centre of the miniature monitor while the chaotic game is outworked around it in all its manifold creative and aesthetic permutations.

Pfeiffer's manipulation of the sports TV stock leads to occasional bleaching which appears like those tiny out-of-place bubbles that coalesce on Koons' submerged basketballs. This noise is a constant rub that reappears throughout the exhibition and becomes a significant moment of disruption between the works and the surfeit of cultural stimuli from which they are formed. A notable example is João Onofre's Instrumental Version wherein a choir performs a lyric-less rendering of Kraftwerk's The Robots. The conceptual conceit of the original inflects a warm glow on this undertaking, which is rewardingly good. Shot on video rather than a more forgiving 16mm film, the failings of projection and sound apparatus re-introduce noise – an anathema to robots, and a wholehearted affirmation of the fallible.

It's telling that the aching gap between proto-pop 1940s and neo-pop 1990s is plastered over with a handful of works that have direct involvement with the pop music industry: Jamie Reid's God Save the Queen, Linder Sterling's photo-collages (one of which became the Buzzcocks' Orgasm Addict sleeve) and Peter Saville's stuff for Factory Records. The recent works in 'Plunder' seem directly inspired by pop music's ascendance in their moments of unfettered creativity, and also in the wealth of material that pop brought to the party. One is left wondering, however, what else was going on during this break?

Venue detail:
DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) »
152-156 Nethergate, DUNDEE DD1 4DY

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