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7 June 16 July
Reviewed by: Rosemary Shirley »
Explorations in the Domain of Idiocy is the first European solo show by New York-based Israeli artist Tamy Ben-Tor. It consists of six video pieces in which, with the aid of various costumes and wigs (reminiscent of Cindy Sherman), Ben-Tor plays a series of overwhelmingly verbose and alarmingly familiar characters.
In her new work The End of Art Ben-Tor fuses the personas of Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man, with what I can only speculate to be artist and proponent of relational aesthetics Rirkrit Tiravanija. As with many of her creations this amalgamation, with its politically incorrect accent and possibly libellous content, provokes guilty laughter among the initiated and gives a nod towards those who always suspected they were being taken for a ride, whether it be by the social sculpture of Tiravanija or the march of Fukuyamas world view. Combining these two characters Ben-Tor strikes at some sort of truth about homogeneity in a world dominated by liberal democracy where everyone is an artist, simply by inhabiting space and maybe cooking some Pad Thai. In the second part of this video, Ben-Tor takes on the character of the art critic, proclaiming: There is no art, there is no artist, there is just the world, together with gems such as I dont like art, Im an art critic, thats what keeps me objective. Ben-Tors characters are all recognisable and the comedy lies in this familiarity. However, they are always rescued from being simply an enactment of a stereotype. In this case the art critic has a pronounced southern drawl, which places her doctrine in the register of the Bible Belt preacher rather than the New York taste-maker.
Ben-Tors multiple personalities occupy a domain of idiocy, a space without logic or sense, where through the bigoted rants of talking heads, language becomes devalued and sometimes incomprehensible, and where through this unchecked babble, certain truths start to emerge.
Rosemary Shirley is Interface editor, she writes about art for magazines, websites and galleries, she teaches at Goldsmiths, Birkbeck and University of Sussex.
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