Destroying Art @ GoMA

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 28 Apr 2014

GoMA’s middle floor has been transformed into the bowels of curatorial constipation by Atelier’s modest selection of free materials and open invitation to the public to make and display artwork in the space. In the name of good digestion, Glasgow-based artist Anthony Schrag punctuates Atelier’s three month run with Make Destruction, an evening during which visitors are encouraged to destroy work they do not consider to be art.

First entry is granted to some academic types. After some wondering if Atelier was a grab at easy funding for inclusive art events or whether children can make art at all, the destruction begins civilly, selectively and with justification.

Already warm and crowded with construction paper, the atmosphere becomes equal parts fun and frantic as the event opens out to the public. Indiscriminate destruction is soon underway, complicated only by a few attendees who seek to preserve as much as they can bubblewrap.

There is a perverse, but very real pleasure in crumpling the cut construction paper letters of tourists’ boasting 'from San Francisco' and children 'aged 6.' Nevertheless, one quick wit brings genuine humour to the occasion by adding a red zero to a 21-year old’s premature anxieties of senescence to make: '210 is old.' With differences in engagement and attention becoming obvious, the room becomes an index of the varying concentrations of a gallery audience: from perfunctorily passing through to active and thoughtful participation.

It is nearing the end of the evening when Schrag and I become embroiled in a physical fight over a large white cardboard box that has been decorated with some unidentifiable blue shapes. But he’s already won, having shoved and elbowed out the indolence of passive, slow gallery strolling. For ninety minutes, art appreciation is somehow made a physically demanding (and seriously fun) sport. [Adam Benmakhlouf]