Saturday, 30 October 2010

Putting the sex back into nudes

The power of Degas and Michelangelo shatter the pleasant 18th-century fiction of the sexless nude

There are a lot of paintings from London's National Gallery described in my book The Lost Battles, about Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Renaissance. Of course there are: Britain's public museum of European painting is home to some of the supreme works of the period. But the picture there that actually influenced me most during the final writing of the book was not a Renaissance work and is not mentioned in the text. It is Edgar Degas's After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself.
The power and passion of this nude fired me at a critical moment when I was getting to grips with a central and tricky theme of the book. But why? I won't keep you guessing. Degas's study of a young woman seems absolutely direct: an observation inflamed by desire. But it is also a homage to Michelangelo. Her pose is closely modelled on male nudes that Michelangelo did in competition with Leonardo da Vinci in Florence in 1504-6.
The Degas drawing translates Michelangelo's male bodies into a female image. And, to be blunt, that helped unlock my own appreciation of the erotic power of the youthful art of Michelangelo. I refuse to see the "nude" as being different in some elevated way from the "naked". Eroticism and intimacy are inherent in any strong depiction of the human body, but writing about the nude is tricky. You can't really do it unless you acknowledge your own feelings – which, I suppose, is the reason the pleasant fiction of the sexless nude was invented by 18th-century critics: to avoid embarrassment.
The drawing by Degas helped me recognise the sexual nature of Michelangelo's art. So the National Gallery helped me with the book, just as it has helped me to learn about great art, and it will mean a lot to be speaking here about The Lost Battles on 15 November. I promise not to be too embarrassing, either about nudes or about my love of the gallery.
• Jonathan Jones will be the speaker at the National Gallery's lunchtime talk on Monday 15 November from 1-1.45pm.

Clive Head's National Gallery exhibition draws record crowds

A little-known Yorkshire painter has become the talk of London's art world after drawing record crowds to an exhibition at the National Gallery.
Visitors have queued in the first fortnight to see Clive Head's modest sideshow to the gallery's current major display of Canalettos – a linked display commissioned to give a contemporary twist to the great Venetian's work.
Based in Scarborough, where he headed the art department at York University's local campus, the interest in 45-year-old Head's three large "cityscapes" has astonished gallery staff.
"He has broken the record for a contemporary artist in Room One [the gallery's small temporary exhibition space]," said Colin Wiggins, the National Gallery's chief curator.
"But it is the time which people are spending in front of his pictures that is really impressive. The room is always thronged. We are busy, busy. The statistics speak for themselves – 7,300 visitors in the first week, 9,300 in the second – but the level of interest defies that sort of analysis by numbers.
"Head's work seems to be the kind of painting that people really love. There's a sense of delight in discovering that it is alive and well, alongside what might be seen as 'Turner Prize art" and the work of more highly-publicised artists."
Head is by no means a secret in the art world, with his paintings fetching up to £160,000 and appearing regularly in West End galleries, but his name has seldom made major headlines. His career was knocked back by a muscular condition five years ago, but he recovered and developed a style variously described as Hyper or Cubist Realism.
"I rate him as the first artist to create a visual language of the 21st century," said Michael Paraskos, an art critic and former colleague of Head's, whose monograph on the artist came out this year.
"His technique is complex, detailed and apparently realistic – but only apparently. Just look closely, as all these visitors are doing, at what is going on."
Head, who discusses his work with Paraskos at the National Gallery on Monday, said that he was warmed and intrigued by the interest – to the extent that he spent time this week watching people watch the paintings.
"There is an appreciation of technique – you know the sort of thing: 'This chap knows how to paint,' but what really seems to appeal is the gradual discovery of how much is happening in the paintings. It's the spatial complexity, the sense that different times and places are contained within initially seems a straightforward, hyper-realistic picture."
Head's guest stint in Trafalgar Square followed a visit by Wiggins to the Marlborough Fine Art gallery two years ago, when negotiations for the Canaletto exhibition were in progress.
Wiggins said: "I went there to have a look at their summer show, which features work by all their artists. I saw the effect of Head's work. People were mesmerised."
Wiggins and his colleagues sensed a connection with Canaletto's own spatial mastery and intrigue, and decided to offer room for three paintings, which will be followed in December and January by a second guest exhibition by another "cityscape" master, Ben Johnson.
"Contemporary work in the National Gallery is a very delicate matter. When artists are exhibiting alongside Rembrandt and Michelangelo, there is a clear risk that it can end up looking stupid," said Wiggins. "That is certainly not the case here. We have a very fine example of contemporary and classical art which connect."
Head works mainly in London, and the trio of paintings are of Haymarket, seen through almost 300 degrees, a cafe in South Kensington, both inside and out, and a stairway in Victoria Underground station, which gives a powerful sense of taking in different views.
Head said that living in Yorkshire had allowed him detachment, something which has also marked the drama of Scarborough's best-known resident, Sir Alan Ayckbourn. Head said: "It's helpful to keep a distance from fads and fashions. You are more likely to find your own path.
"Scarborough is a very level-headed place. People know who I am but they have other things to get on with. I get stopped in the street more often in Mayfair than I do in Scarborough."
Head's agent at Marlborough, Armin Bienger, said that the reaction in Room One had not surprised him, after previous experience in the West End. He said: "Every time I have showed Clive's work, I have had this experience. It is like a magnet. People become more and more fascinated, the more they look.
"This is not remotely like photography, nor like traditional photorealism. The landscapes exist in the real world, for example at the Cottage Delight cafe near the Natural History Museum, but they are not as Clive shows them. He has found a way of creating an image which takes us through time."

This week's new exhibitions

Breon O'Casey, London

Leggy birds with beaks and wings fashioned as graceful geometries are typical of Breon O'Casey's sculpture. So too buxom Earth Mothers, primitive nudes with vast hips, cast in mottled bronze. It's no surprise to learn that this son of the Irish playwright Sean O'Casey was assistant and friend to Barbara Hepworth. Now in his 80s, he's one of the last surviving members of the St Ives School. His first love, though, ispainting. Canvases feature classic abstract subjects from nudes to landscapes, in the manner of the gods of modern art, Picasso and Mattisse. Birds and fish become teardrop shapes in earthy hues, a view of a Venetian canal is transformed into mirrored half-moons while a reclining nude becomes a satisfying series of ripe ovals, half-moons and circles.

Somerset House, WC1, to 30 Jan
Skye Sherwin

David Gledhill, Corin Sworn, Manchester

David Gledhill's Doctor Munscheld photo-realist paintings are meticulous renditions taken from a 1950s photo album picked up from a Frankfurt flea market. The paintings' chilling air of displaced nostalgia derives from the seeming incompatibility of dead ordinary family snaps and the artfulness of Gledhill's painterly dedication. Corin Sworn's Endless Renovation visuals are a run of projected slides salvaged from a skip. Sworn adds a voiceover monologue that transforms them into a plaintive meditation on the unstoppable passage of time.
Castlefield Gallery, to 19 Dec
Robert Clark

Contemporary Eye, Chichester

Using craft techniques in contemporary art has gone from being a radical bit of revisionism to par for the course in recent years. The subversive works here represent both newbies and artists at the vanguard of the trend. Laura Ford's Chintz Girl riffs on the oppressive limits of the mantelpiece while Debbie Lawson turns home decor into a site for imaginative escape, with her Turkish rug sprouting fabric flowers. There are stuffed animals aplenty in Nina Saunders's amalgams of taxidermy forest creatures and elaborately upholstered furniture, but no show of this kind would be complete without Grayson Perry. Here he switches ceramics for an anti-war tapestry, depicting guns, helicopters, Osama Bin Laden and a priapic angry teddybear.
Pallant House Gallery, to 6 Mar

Rebecca Lennon, Liverpool

Rebecca Lennon's first solo show is a celebration of our common fallibilities titled We Are Stuck Here Together. Past work has included a pigeon video, and a sound collage of the sole word Satisfaction sampled from 38 cover versions of the Rolling Stones classic. Lennon's gift lies in knowing precisely what to lift from the most seemingly arbitrary of sources. The current show includes such ready-made gems as a film clip of a man acting out a sleep disorder and a painting apparently offered to a debt collecting agency in part payment for a debt. And all these things are posited in a spirit of deadpan earnestness as documents of rare cultural import. And, indeed, they could well be just that.
Ceri Hand Gallery, to 28 Nov

Rirkrit Tiravanija, London

Rirkrit Tiravanija's people-friendly projects included cooking Thai curry for gallery-goers and transforming a white cube into a makeshift studio for bands to practice in. In recent years, however, his work's got less utopian and more political. Here he explores the business of art in two very different worlds: London and Thailand. An eight-hour video portrait shot in continuous close-up records the working day of an aged Thai man, the artist's model. It's an endurance test, like one of Andy Warhol's early films. Meanwhile, slides show Tiravanija's London gallerist at Speaker's Corner, using a blackboard to announce daily tasks like emailing collectors.
Pilar Corrias, W1, to 1 Dec

Joan Ainley, Castle Donington

Joan Ainley's new set of collaged prints, The Eye Of Time Rewrites History, is the second in her ongoing series Portraits Without Pictures, Sound Without Noise. Ainley's work tends towards the poetic and enigmatic, more obliquely evocative than clearly descriptive. She has a distinct taste for the conjuring of objects that have a unique drawing power but which frustrate any attempt at prosaic interpretation. She goes in for empty frames and blank mirrors, and contraptions that hint at the potential for creative sound rather than producing actual audible music. The raw materials for her collages were sourced from old catalogue illustrations for barbershop supplies, lab equipment and Army & Navy stores. The antiquated engravings excavate the surreal formalities of barely obscured collective memories of railway station clocks, starched collars and cutthroat razors.
Tarpey Gallery, to 4 Dec

Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900, London

Until the Glasgow Boys came along, Scotland's fin-de-siècle painting was a staid, sombre affair. At the end of the 19th century they looked to innovators across the water, introducing the hot colours of southern France, the dappled light of impressionism and the social span of French realism in their experimental painting. Taking their materials out of the studio and into the countryside to work in the fresh air, the group gave rural life in the chilly north an image makeover. Included in this survey are such delights as James Guthrie's depictions of age and youth, his little girl herding geese, and Arthur Melville's vision of the Trossachs as a fiery autumnal haze. The highlight though is EA Hornel and George Henry's The Druids: a cavalcade of Celtic priests, resplendent in scarlet, aquamarine and gold leaf against a winter backdrop.
Royal Academy Of Art, W1, Sat to 23 Jan

Jorn Ebner, Newcastle upon Tyne

Jorn Ebner's graphic digital mischief tends to fluctuate between a utopian heaven and a dystopian hell in an atmosphere of distinctly spaced-out bewilderment. The overall title of his recent work Uncertainty Underneath Immense Skies is taken from Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Ebner's computer-enabled protagonists might prance about amidst the flower-power daisies and appear to go in for elaborate variations on a theme of free love, but there's an ever-present undertone of deadpan irony. In one inkjet print titled Richard Brautigan Pounding At The Gates Of American Literature, the trouserless poet stands forlornly above a prone nude girl with his erection pointing to a sky infected by a multicoloured psychedelic plague.
Vane, to 27 Nov

Monday, 23 August 2010

Gilbert & George’s only major paintings go on display in Netherlands

Huge series of triptychs may be sold to Dutch museum

Gilbert & George, The Paintings (With Us in the Nature)

British artist duo Gilbert & George are likely to sell a monumental early work that has remained in their personal collection since it was made in 1971—a set of six triptychs that together total nearly 30 metres in length. The Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands, is to borrow The Paintings (With Us in the Nature)—the only major paintings ever made by the artists—and it hopes to then raise the money to buy the work.
Kröller-Müller director Evert van Straaten told us that he first met Gilbert & George in 1971, a few months after the work was completed and while it was on show at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. “I was puzzled and intrigued, because they called themselves ‘the living sculptors’. Painting was becoming seen as obsolete,” he said. The Paintings remained in Van Straaten’s mind for nearly 40 years, and last year he contacted Gilbert & George, asking if they still owned it.
The Paintings comprises six huge triptychs, each 2.3m by 6.8m. Based on photographs, the images were then crudely transferred to canvas, overpainted and splashed with green. The youthful figures of Gilbert & George appear in the landscapes of each of the central panels. Since 1972 the work has only been exhibited very occasionally, in Edinburgh (1986), Turin (1992), Porto (1994) and Bordeaux (1990, 1997, 2001 and 2005).
The Kröller-Müller Museum is set in a national park in the eastern Netherlands, with the gallery windows framing views of the surrounding woods. This makes it a particularly appropriate place to display the Gilbert & George landscapes. After completing this work, the artists not only abandoned painting for photography, but focused on their urban surroundings, reflecting east London life.
Van Straaten is borrowing The Paintings for a temporary display (9 July-21 November), and while the work is on show he will fundraise to purchase it. Discussions on the price are currently underway, and the hope is that it will be below the market value, since Gilbert & George are keen for the work to remain at the Kröller-Müller.
The Paintings will need a very large gallery for itself, so it might be shown for three months a year. This opens the possibility that the work could be lent to other exhibitions. Van Straaten is also keen on an eventual extension to the museum building, which would provide more space for the British duo’s unique venture into painting.

So much more than the “Father of Pop”

That Richard Hamilton has such a relatively low profile is surely scandalous

Richard Hamilton, I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas, 1967-68
The publication of this book is evidence of a continuing historical and cultural injustice. How could it be that Richard Hamilton is identified by his publishers as “a key figure in 20th-century art” and at the same time be “still little-known in the US”? It is just as alarming that these disjunctive (but, on reflection, hardly contradictory) phrases form the first sentence for this book’s blurb, but, more surprisingly, this work is the only book (rather than an exhibition catalogue) in print on the artist.
Thus it carries quite a burden of expectation, with mixed results. How could a book that collects together texts garnered from magazines and exhibition catalogues satisfy one’s thirst in such a desert of available publications? Yet satisfy it does because of the judicious choice of texts and by the way it suggests how one might view a side of Hamilton that has been emerging since the 1980s—as a history painter engaged in the translation of personally felt moral and political issues, a development seen most recently in the exhibition earlier this year, “Richard Hamilton: Modern Moral Matters” at London’s Serpentine Gallery (a slightly altered version of “Richard Hamilton: Protest Pictures” at Inverleith House two years earlier).
This new view of the artist is signalled by the decision to reproduce Hamilton’s painting of the IRA’s “dirty protest” in the Maze prison, The Citizen, 1982-83, on the book’s front cover. It is a world away from the more commonly accepted view of Hamilton as the “Father of Pop” that might have been communicated, say, by his proto-pop collage of 1956,Just What Is it That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?The choice of cover image is confirmed by Hal Foster’s essay “Citizen Hamilton” (reprinted from Artforum). Foster’s is the last essay in this book, and makes the identification of Hamilton as history painter most forcefully.
However, it is Mark Francis’s introductory essay from 1988, a text that brilliantly sets the work of the 1980s in context, such as the portrait of Margaret Thatcher, Treatment Room, 1983-84, and The Citizen, and not just alongside earlier works of political hue (Hugh Gaitskell as a Famous Monster of Filmland, 1964), but also with regard to enigmatic paintings such as that of Bing Crosby, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, 1967-68, and Hamilton’s long engagement as reader and interpreter of James Joyce.
It is Joyce, as Francis explains, that provides one way of understanding how politics, pop and Hamilton’s long held fascination with the mechanics of making and translating images (not just painting, but also, primarily, photography and other forms of printmaking) co-exist. One clear way is by reference to the Joycean notion of “epiphany”, paraphrased by Hamilton as “a crystallisation of thought that gives us an instant awareness of life’s meaning”, and also by his work of the same name from 1964—a giant-sized presentation of a button badge bearing the words “Slip It To Me”. Epiphany describes a revelation that is by definition personal, and informs all areas of Hamilton’s practice as this book starts to make clear.

Marlene Dumas's paintings of nudes and kids are always unsettling.

Bronze Meryl, 1998 (detail), by Marlene Dumas. Photograph: copyright Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas is like Marmite. You either love her or you hate her. I have loved her since the 1990s, when I first encountered her paintings of nude women: transformed versions of the stock images of commercial pornography, thoroughly recognisable, unsentimental, sometimes brutal, but at the same time profoundly compassionate. These female figures have been dredged from the very edges of the world, complying perforce with their own exploitation, spreading their legs, squeezing their breasts together, looking at the viewer through bruised thighs. Dumas's way of painting them veils them, dissolves their edges as if by pooling body fluids.
Some people rage that she is adding to her subjects' humiliation and exploiting them in her turn, but it seems to me that her frame of reference includes the rest of us in a single venal culture that lives by prostituting everything, including art. Innocence would not have recognised these pictures for what they were. Dumas's brush tars us all. She works slowly, distilling her archetypal image from all kinds of media sources, and for the last 10 years there have been more buyers for her work than there were works to buy.
Dumas was born in South Africa 57 years ago; she trained first in Cape Town and then at Atelier 63, an art school in the Netherlands. Success came swiftly. After one-woman shows in Paris and Basel, she entered into a relationship with the Galerie Paul Andriesse in Amsterdam, which endures to this day. By the beginning of the 1990s, she was becoming a name outside Europe, with important exhibitions in New York, Chicago and Tokyo. When Charles Saatchi featured her in his first Triumph of Painting exhibition in 2005, her prices on the primary art market increased tenfold.
Chief among her collectors, besides Saatchi, was Craig Robins, the developer who transformed Miami's South Beach and masterminded theMiami Design District. Altogether, Robins acquired 29 works by Dumas, including Reinhardt's Daughter, painted in 1994. (The Reinhardt it refers to is the American abstract-expressionist painter Ad Reinhardt, best known for his "black" paintings.) Dumas's images of children, including her own, are always unsettling. To a shocked viewer who asked what age the child in one of her pictures was, Dumas snapped, "It's not a child. It's a painting." (Go, girl!)
In 2004, Robins needed cash to finance his divorce, so he took Reinhardt's Daughter back to Jack Tilton, the New York dealer who sold it to him. Tilton sold it to "a Swiss gallery" who had a buyer for it, for $925,000. David Zwirner, another New York dealer who was wooing Dumas, told her about the sale. Dumas keeps a blacklist of collectors who buy her work only to flip it, and Robins found himself on it. He wanted to buy three of the best pictures in her last New York exhibition and found that his money was no longer good enough. So in March hebrought a lawsuit alleging breach of a confidentiality agreement by Zwirner, demanding $3m in compensatory damages, plus another $5m in punitive damages. He lost. Though the judge was disgusted by what the proceedings had revealed about the international fine art milieu, "a world of self-proclaimed royalty full of 'blacklists', 'greylists' and astonishing chicanery", he could find no evidence of a binding guarantee of confidentiality, nor of any breach of contract or agreement.
As New York is the most parochial of cities, and the art scene its most incestuous clique, the court case kept the chattering classes entertained for weeks. Some of the blogs bitched that Dumas got thousands from the sale anyway, so where was the beef? She didn't, and she couldn't, because the New York art market acknowledges no droit-de-suite, which entitles artists to a share of prices fetched for their work on the secondary art market; that is, when a work is sold for a second or subsequent time. Some would say that the New York art market keeps its ascendancy because it has no droit-de-suite, but even if it had, Dumas would have had no more than a nibble of the hundreds of thousands of dollars Robins made from selling her work.
Droit-de-suite is so mean that you wonder if it's worth the paperwork. It also hits the small collector much harder than the big. In Europe, which includes the UK, if the artist is alive or less than 70 years dead, he or she or the artist's legatees can expect 4% of the first €50,000 (£41,000) reached in a secondary sale, 3% of the next tranche to €200,000, 1% of the next to €350,000, and so on in descending increments as the price gets higher. After the price reaches €2m, the artists can claim nothing; €12,500 is the maximum they can receive.
Even at the level of primary sale, artists make more money for other people than they do for themselves. Commercial galleries set their own commission, which is seldom less than 50% of the agreed price for a work; if the gallery is launching an unknown, it may ask for as much as 90%. Fine art auctioneers also set their own rates, with the difference that both buyer and seller will be expected to pay commission of 20% to 30%. It is far more profitable to trade in art than to make art. Marlene Dumas may live to regret that she bit the hand of her most loyal fan.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

This week's new art picks

A different stripe: work by Phil Smith and Polly Macpherson as part of Ambulation at Plymouth Arts Centre, to 10 Oct.

Ambulation, Plymouth

Building on the history of art and ambulation, for the eight contemporary artists and collectives in this group show, journeying itself becomes an artform. Projects designed to get ideas on the move include Simon Persighetti and Tony Whitehead's soundtrack to experience city noises from the 1950s-70s, while Phil Smith and Polly Macpherson have created objects inspired by a walk round a local 19th-century Royal Navy complex, including fossils, gargoyles, biscuits and a bag of clay evoking the softness of flesh. Architecture cooperative ad:HOC have designed a mobile home for an itinerant art project and Tim Brennan sees walking as a tool for creative contemplation. Similar exercises in free thinking are encouraged by Bridgette Ashton's alternative map of Plymouth. Like an anti A-Z, this takes walkers on random expeditions around curious sites of no historical importance.
Plymouth Arts Centre, Sat to 10 Oct
Skye Sherwin

Simon Yuill, Glasgow

Simon Yuill's film, sound, internet and printed publication art makes a series of sophisticated, theoretically reflective and painstakingly researched observations on the social, cultural and economic politics of various local societies. Questions are instigated about the politics of labour, architecture, ethnic identity, the law and ecology. This is essentially subversive stuff. One video and photo piece documents and celebrates the history of the Pollock Free State, a Glasgow woodland camp, initially formed in the 1990s to protest against the building of the M77 motorway, which developed in time into a substantial working class community of environmental concern.
CCA, to 18 Sep
Robert Clark

Hypercomics, London

Masterminded by comics expert Paul Gravett, this show does great things with notions of the expanded comic, drawing on the innovations of interactive hypercomics – web-based, choose-your-own-adventure type comic strip experiments. It's worth seeing for artist Adam Dant's input alone – his Swiftian wall drawing follows the journey of Dr London through the city's digestive tract. Daniel Merlin Goodbrey's project explores both the dreamlife and waking existence of the sole archivist of glam rock dictator Hieronymous Pop's murky history. Dave McKean's offers perspectives on childhood betrayal, while Warren Pleece's animated installation gives a glimpse into the lives of others.
Pump House Gallery, SW11, to 26 Sep
Skye Sherwin

ORIGIN010, Sheffield

Paul Evans's installation adds up to a personal hymn to natural diversity. Semi-abstract watercolour and graphite drawings, accompanied here by Chris Jones's succinct haiku poems, are images of nature in the making. As ambiguous as they are highly evocative, the amoebic cells might be ultimately unidentifiable yet they are nevertheless forceful presences that make your imagination creep. There's also an enchanting animation of metamorphosing butterflies, created in collaboration with the Humanstudio group. The central image here, however, is A Cure For Melancholy, Evans's life-size drawing of a narwhal, whose horns were apparently sold as unicorn horns and an antidote to creative and philosophical disillusionment.
Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery, Mon to 12 Sep
Robert Clark

Archiving Place And Time, Wolverhampton

A selection of politically concerned art from Northern Ireland created since the 1998 Belfast Good Friday Agreement. The artists generally approach their difficult and delicate subject from oblique, ironic and non-partisan perspectives, signalling a recognition of the complex tensions and ambivalences involved in the conflict. Some of the work is almost mockingly humorous in its dealing with the unthinkable – Rita Duffy's Dessert is a chocolate cast taken from a decommissioned AK47 paramilitary gun – but other works uncompromisingly face grim facts. Willie Doherty's photography of The Westlink, a now demolished pedestrian bridge spanning the Catholic Falls Road and the Protestant Donegal Road, is a haunting image of division and dread.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, to 4 Dec
Robert Clark

Fourth Plinth Maquette, London

Love it or loath it, Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth is British publicsculpture's hot spot. Coinciding with the Olympics, the 2011 commission is the most prominent yet, and the next six proposals, presented as a show of maquettes, are eagerly anticipated. Top secret until the unveiling, the spread of world class artists bodes well: Allora & Calzadilla, Elmgreen & Dragset, Katharina Fritsch, Brian Griffiths, Hew Locke and Mariella Neudecker. While Fritsch's eerily slick icons like neon-bright Madonnas have made her a global art star and Elmgreen & Dragset promise a glossy mix of queer politics and design culture, it will be interesting to see what London-based Griffiths – who's turned junk materials into huge vessels of adventure, from spaceships to Krypton Factor-style obstacle courses – will suggest for that small slab of stone.
The Crypt of St Martin-in-the-fields, WC2, Thu to 31 Oct
Skye Sherwin

Locate, London

A quest for origins and originality has taken three young artists on very different journeys here. Inspired by the infamous British art forger Shaun Greenhalgh, Sarah Pickering has photographed a selection of his forgeries in a mock up of his living room as created for a BBC documentary. Mel Brimfield is something of a faker himself, with his film installation where actors give suspiciously different accounts of a performance that perhaps never was. Meanwhile, Aura Satz's sound piece explores where sound is located, with listeners required to plunge their heads inside a sculpture featuring an antique brass horn or witch's hat.
Jerwood Space, SE1, to 12 Sep
Skye Sherwin

Steven Cairns, Stirling

The cut-and-paste aesthetics of collage might be a century old, but it appears to have been given a new lease of cultural relevance with the availability of digital sampling and layering. Collage is, of course, an art of compositional fragmentation and free association, a means of experimenting with dislocated spaces and unpredictable images. Steven Cairns makes full use of digital collage's ability to lift images from a wide diversity of cultural sources, to superimpose previously disconnected images just for the experimental hell of it. Furthermore, his use of collage has something in common with the "cut up" techniques of such subversives as William Burroughs and Harmony Korine, a technique of insubordinate disruption of proper and decent modes of cultural behaviour. A new video piece focuses on the hypnotic rhythmical geometries of gabber, a hardcore techno subgenre.
The Changing Room, to 25 Sep
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