Intro | Background 2 | Breathe 2 | Manchester | Propositions 2 3 4 | References | Results 2 | Inquiries | Notes
Points of Reference: Modesty
During the residency, I learned about these three artists, whose modest works I've returned to time and again.
David Sherry, Auctioning a forged pound ‘Captain Hyde’ 2008 during a talk at ECA. Source: Dave-Sherry.com
Glasgow-based artist Dave Sherry is a performance artist whose gestures may be read simply as odd behavior. In one work, he stands in a gallery for the duration of a preview with a lampshade on his head. For a video, he cut out pictures of eyes, and pasted them onto his eyelids, and titled the work Seeing Through Tom Cruise’s Eyes. While these works may seem like conceptual one-liners, Sherry is an articulate artist rigorously contextualizes his practice with an interest in chance, procedures and a “compulsion to be yourself.”15 He cites his influences, including David Hammons, Martin Creed, Bruce Nauman and Martin Kippenberger. According to Sherry, he is happy if his works prompt a response as modest as simple curiosity: “Oh, look at that. What’s going on over there?”16
Chu Yun, Unspeakable Happiness (No.2), 2003, Installation, “The Fifth System: Public Art in the Age of Post-Planning,” The 5th Shenzhen International Public Art Exhibition, Shenzhen, China. Source: ChuYun.net
Chu Yun's works are so slim as to verge on invisibility. As Philip Tinari wrote in Artforum (March 2009), there’s
something subversive … about works that were barely works.”
For example, in Unspeakable Happiness II (2003), Chu Yun reveals the
uncanny power of blank flags to elicit an affective response from viewers, whether through their banal beauty or through the feigned promise of new avenues of consumption. Empty signifiers, they announce without announcing anything in particular.
Ceal Floyer, Helix, 2003, helix template and objects, 17 x 20 x 12.5 cm. Source: LissonGallery.com
Ceal Floyer makes work of extreme reduction. Floyer’s art is “a mixture of Duchampian word play, absurdity, illusion and linguistic pendantry.” In Helix (2003), she placed various bits and bobs in a plastic template; each object fit their respective apertures with baffling exactness. In Ink on Paper (1999), she “drew” a circle of ink by holding a felt-tip marker on the surface of the paper until the marker bleed through the paper and went completely dry. Floyer’s practice is a very tightly controlled reductionism whose end products frustrate the viewer's expectations of grand feats.
15. Dave Sherry lecture, Tuesday Talks series, Whitworth Gallery. 3 March 2009.
17. Jessica Lack, "Ceal Floyer: Genuine Reductionist,” Art World Magazine, Feb./Mar. 2009) 132.