I went to see Altermodern, the 2009 Tate triennial, as curated by Nicholas Borriaud. My review is posted on A-N here:

A few immediate thoughts:

  • Either there really are no good painters catching curator’s eyes right now (so they should look harder!) OR, curators think painting is dead.
  • If painting is “dead” then we are in trouble because painting, together with drawing, is the fundamental, most basic art from. Picking up the piece of charcoal and using it to draw on the wall of the cave is one of the first steps that made us “human.”  If we are fundamentally  incapable of making art that is  based on pure imagination and simple tools, then the subsequent art  forms that are so prevalent (installation, video, performance, etc.) are really meaningless.
  • How could Borriaud allow Shezad Dawood to put such a dreadful, nay, abysmal painting in the show? His film not much better, despite the parading of many funding marks.
  • I now have respect, and even liking, for Patrick Brill, whom I used to dismiss. Mea culpa, Pat, you are damn smart.
  • Nathaniel Mellors is channelling Alfred Jarry, which in some ways is fun and even admirable, but at the same time Jarry is way, way out of  Mellors’ league.
  • It seems many artists in the show want to somehow be “like” historians, without really understanding anything about the practice of history. So their pronouncements, and their catalogues [written by curators and critics] sound like first year history essays.
  • Appropriation has had its day, and most people are not very good at it (hats off to Tacita Dean whose Russian Ending is an example of a successful appropriation).
  • I assumed Altermodern was a German neologism combining Old (alt) and Modern — but it isn’t.
  • Artists should maybe stick to exhibiting the one or two things they are REALLY good at – be it sculpture, photography OR painting etc…. and consider the rest a hobby.

enough for now.