ECA Degree Show 2012
Degree shows, degree shows, degree shows. They can be fatiguing affairs, them degree shows, what with all the art and stuff. All the art getting right into your eyes and making impressions on your brain like a bad dose of telly.
They’re full of stuff, degree shows. There’s a painting that is trying to look like a photo here, a convoluted reference to pop culture there. There’s something that looks a bit like a geodesic dome in one room, while in another someone has made oversized notebooks and turned them into shelves. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Magnus Eriksen is an art school archetype. He flies in the face of everything that is contemporary in art, probably taking little or no heed of his tutors, who recommend one considers the zeitgeist now and again. He’s a self-styled Salvador Dali of the northern hemisphere (Surrealism is a slow migrator, after all), sharing many of the Spanish poly-pervert’s concerns – an interest in his own self-mythology and breasts. He should have paid more attention in class.
Darren Nisbet is also a painter of things. But at least he has the decency to make them look less like other things extant in the world. Using a colour pallet one normally only sees in a certain kind of plastic object – 1970s Tupperware, perhaps – he paints large, simple forms. One in particular looks like a big, cartoon jobby, turtle-heading into the picture frame. It’s in every way good.
In a room that is otherwise starkly decorated with some stuff, a machine draws a circle on the wall – or maybe it’s an ellipse. It does it over and over again, constantly drawing. On the floor are black pads that are connected to the machine, and when you step on them they change the behavior of the circle-drawing device. One makes it change direction while another makes it slowly and gracefully move to the right where it continues to draw more circles. It’s conceptual art made contemporary. It’s the machine that Sol LeWitt himself dreamed of being.
You enter a doorway into the installation by Tom Clowney and find yourself in a small, dimly lit corridor. Following the corridor through the installation you get glimpses of adjacent rooms. A hole in the wall reveals a sink outside, somewhere in the real world. You’re frightened you might come across something or someone you don’t want to. Time passes quicker in here and you want to leave.
Joseph Etchel has made a fake bingo hall. The wallpaper is similar to what you might find in a real bingo hall – yellow and dingy. There’s a bingo table, chair and obligatory ash tray (I assume this is a bingo hall from the past when people used to smoke). There’s also someone saying some numbers and a time-lapse video of someone sitting on all the seats in a real bingo hall, one after the other. Why, you might ask yourself, before moving on to something else, the fatigue pulling you down.
Maya Georg Quille has neatly built some glass cubes and mounted them on crisp, white plinths. They are familiar art gallery tropes – things you feel you’ve seen a hundred times before. However, these versions sit in a shallow pool of sludge, preventing close scrutiny. One of the cubes has a tantalising hand print on it, defacing its otherwise clean surface, as though someone has traversed the sludge, transgressed gallery etiquette, and touched the work.
You refrain from defacing some work yourself before leaving, tired and insatiable. You think about all the things you’ve seen in the show and find yourself struggling to get a grasp of anything, all your memories are vague and incoherent. Or is it the work that is vague and incoherent? You can’t tell. You think about the machine drawing on the wall and the big painting of a jobby and have a little laugh to yourself. Degree shows, degree show, degree shows, you mutter, shaking your head.