GOLDSMITHS ART PRACTICE/FINE ART DEGREE SHOW 2011
Note from the editor: Over the next couple of weeks we are going to be releasing features on various 2011 degree shows that our team were lucky enough to have visited. Given our limited set-up it was impossible to feature every artist we saw, let alone every show across the country, and for that we can only apologise. But to make amends we are giving you, our readers, the opportunity to submit your own work to be featured in one final feature on the class of 2011 at the end of next week. Just email your full name, degree, college, an image of your work and a brief description to email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you! MH
Goldsmiths Fine Art/Art Practice Degree show 2011
I am one of the lucky ones: almost immediately after graduating I find myself in a relatively well-paid, undemanding, full-time job. My search for employment may have involved negotiations with flirty, blind, middle aged Italian women, an interview where I answered the question ‘so what makes you suitable for a role in recruitment?’ by saying ‘I…don’t know what that is,’ and then putting the phone down, as well as the odd morning when the only way I thought I’d be able to afford to feed myself would be by making a spreadsheet of every book, CD, DVD and record I owned so I could sell them off online, it wasn’t exactly strenuous. And yes, the job I took means I probably won’t be pursing my academic career further for another year at least, and yes, it is interminably dull, but…it’s a job. I am financially secure. The major worry in my life – how I’d be able to live without the ever dependable student loan payments – has been solved. As I said, I am lucky.
A few weeks back I attended the opening night of the Goldsmiths undergraduate BA Art Practice/Fine Art degree show. As I squirmed through the crowd – like a solitary sturgeon swimming against a tide of slightly-too-small trousers and louche stick figures supping offie-bought cans of Grolsch – peering briefly at one exhibit to the next, I found myself pondering notions of security. Surely, I reasoned, in the Current Economic Climate, it is the art student who must be feeling fear the most. Is it, I thought as I walked past an oversized, bright pink hairdryer that came bundled with a glamorous female assistant posing for photos with visitors*, that anyone studying fine art is both braver than me, and potentially even less career minded? Reader, I know, I know, art isn’t about commerce and careerism. Art is a form of expression, a transferral process, a negotiation of a world that’s largely impossible to fathom. It’s also a good excuse to drink free beer with people who have nicer hair than you.
Do the art students of Goldsmiths – some of the most regular and loyal customers I had during my days as a sales assistant at the student union shop – worry about their future in terms of financial ramifications like I did? Or were they happy to create, to confound, to exhibit, to express, to delight, to disquiet? Perhaps. Hopefully an art student will let me know.
This year I only made it to two undergraduate shows: Goldsmiths and Camberwell. Being a Goldsmiths fanboy (I studied and worked there, and hope to be doing that exact same thing in a year’s time) I’m predisposed to think it the better of the two shows, mainly because it simply was. I shall keep my negative comments about Camberwell to a minimum because my criticism is both uninformed and unhelpful, but suffice to say, my overriding impression of the show was that it simply had to be a comment on the banality of art in the twenty first century student, a knowing critique of the end of originality. There simply could be no other explanation for the endless Vice style photos of battered, rain-sodden, impoverished seaside towns out of season. Goldsmiths however, felt like a real show, like I was looking at the work of artists rather than people playing at being artists.
Tobias Zehntner, Wave (water) http://www.tobiaszehntner.com/
Darkness, both literal and metaphorical, was a recurring motif at this year’s exhibition. Visitors walked through womblike souks, sat on fur-lined floors watching semi-psychedelic projections, literally sat in dark rooms waiting for nothing to happen. I put on my junior art critic that night and decided that the show as a whole could be read as a reaction to the current feeling of revelations seeping into previously darkened spaces. However, the best thing I saw, and it seemed to be a piece that entranced a vast number of guests, was a motor placed in a shallow watertank that had mirrors lining it; we watched with simple, childish smiles on our faces as bubbles burbled up and petered out infinitely. This was nothing to do with darkness. This was art for art’s sake. And what’s wrong with that? (We were later told that the piece is not lined with mirrors, only glass. In the video you can see how it’s transparent looking from above, the mirror effect appears only when the glass is seen sideways through water.)
*an artwork that, as I learned a few days after the show, had been bought by Charles Staachi.