POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
Gavin Turk, Brillo Box 5, 2003
If Flavorpill can produce strong reviews — Chris Diken on Urs Fischer and Gavin Brown’s Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns amongst them — why does their blog so frequently botch art features? Two weeks ago, the fact that artist Gavin Turk’s Brillo 5 (2003) may sell for as much as $30,000 at Christie’s auction (September 23) prompted an art-hate post detailing the worth of other cardboard boxes around the city, pontificating on their cultural importance. I’m all for debunking art myths and pomposity, but failure to consider the original object won’t achieve this. No mention of the fact that the Turk’s piece is actually a trompe l’oeil-like bronze reproduction of a cardboard box is found in their write up, a critical point to understanding the work. This doesn’t make the work that much better, mind you — mimicking a cheap material with an expensive one and needless labor don’t give a viewer that much to think about — but that doesn’t mean the approach to discussing the work should be aimless shots at art speak. After all, it’s not like their quoted Christie’s box description was so impenetrable. It only reads, “an ironic and ambiguous work that is essentially a copy of a cardboard box.” Although unspecified in the quote, Turk’s box obviously references pop artist Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes, which silk-screened the company’s logo onto an identically sized block of wood. This reference is a transparent strategy to bring new light to the ready made, though at this stage in the game we’re inclined to think that wholly unnecessary.
Since publishing this article, the blog has tackled a number of hard hitting arts issues, in particular the photograph of Sean Lennon we discussed yesterday. To address this matter, they presented an infantile multiple choice quiz polling reader response to the picture. Choices included, “A disgrace to Lennon’s memory,” “I rather like it, an appropriate tribute,” and “This made my day.” Given that this was part of a regular segment feature titled “Daily Poll,” it’s probably unfair to ask for much substance here, but I would argue that the image was misplaced to begin with.
Miru Kim, From the series, “Naked City Spleen”
On the same day Flavorwire ran their Lennon quiz, they also featured an article by artkrush’s Paul Laster, who frequently has a line on the best up and coming artists, detailing Miru Kim’s cliché-ridden photography. Kim has become something of an Internet art celebrity for work in which she removes her clothes in public places none of us would want to be naked in. While some of the backgrounds in her pictures admittedly look good, the work is about as conceptually rigorous as a nude MTA subway tour. Notably, in Miru Kim’s discussion of her artistic practice at TED she describes making the decision to model herself without clothes because she wanted to be without the stamp of time or “cultural implications.” There’s nothing wrong with the desire, but it willfully disregards a long history of the nude in Western art making. Surely that’s a cultural reference the rest of us won’t be able to ignore.