The Husband Project has my attention, but is it art?

April 3, 2009 at 4:54 pm (art) (, , )

A 23 year-old woman has chosen marriage as the theme for her final year art project. But she’s exploring the topic a little differently – she’s going through the process itself. She’s deftly named it The Husband Project.
Alex Humphrey’s, a student at Leeds College of Art and Design, is disillusioned with dating and scared of becoming a spinster. So she has decided to tackle both her final  project and her love life by setting up a blog to find herself a husband. In an interview in The Times, Humphrey’s says: “I don’t want to wake up when I’m 30 and think: oh my God, I’m on my own.” She adds, “it’s better to say I’m looking for a relationship, not just a shag.”
Humphrey’s has three simple requirements: that applicants are male, have a sense of humour and are taller than her. Applicants are asked to answer a 45 question survery, including things like, “Are you financially secure?” and “Are you good in bed (be honest!)”.
Picture:  foundphotoslj

Picture: foundphotoslj

It reminds me of the woman who sold her virginity on ebay. And also Neil LaBute’s film The Shape of Things where an art student shapes her boyfriend and then hands “him” as her final year thesis. It’s sort of a mix of the two, actually.
But is this art? To me art is about making a statement, and I can’t work out what this one is saying. Humphrey’s reason for the project is to “ensure that I am remembered for years to come!” I’m all for art in Web 2.0, it’s important to push art into new creative boundaries. But I can’t help but think this is more of an exercise in self-promotion tapping into of the trend of instant celebrity.

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Can you sculpt the public into art? One and Other by Antony Gormley

March 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm (art, performance, sculpture) (, , , , )

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North

One and Other is the newest project from sculpter Antony Gormley (of Angel of the North fame). Instead of using steel or marble his new sculpture will be made out of people. Lots of people.

From July 2,400 individuals from around the UK will have the chance to stand on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square, and take part in living artwork. The plinth is usually reserved for kings, queens or generals. But this summer it will be home to various people for one hour each over a period of one hundred days. That’s 2,400 hours of standing in total.

The idea behind the project is the democratisation of art, a chance for normal people to look at the world from the “elevated frame” of a work of art itself. Gormley hopes it will produce a portrait of the UK: “Using this little plinth as the lens through which we see what the UK is like now.” The applicants will be screened to make sure all ethnic minorities are represented.

People can take anything they like up with them, as long as they can carry it without help. In an interview with in the Telegraph, Gormley said: “It will be an experiment. I imagine that there will be extroverts who will see this as an opportunity to do the biggest party trick ever. But I have no expectations. I would be absolutely happy if somebody got up there with an umbrella and just stood still for an hour.”

Gormley’s idea beat big competition from conetmporay artists Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor. It embraces many elements of contemporary society – reality televison, vodcasting, the idea of celebrity – all on one little plinth. It is making art interactive and accessible. Genius really.

“There is a danger in which this thing is seen as a spectacle in the manner of David Blaine, or I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, or Big Brother,” Gormley says. “I think it uses all of those idioms, but to a very different purpose. I’m interested in how people’s view of the world changes by being that exposed in such a public place.”

“This is also me testing myself, calling into question everything that I’ve done. Is this sculpture or isn’t it? Can you use time as a medium? Can you use real life as a subject?”

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Charity Shop Art

February 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm (art) (, , , )

Because it makes sense in a recession. No one can afford to buy art anymore and because Ikea art doesn’t count.Salvation Army, Upper Street, N1

Salvation Army, Upper Street, N1

I had my reservations. Charity shops are always a gamble. Oxbridge scholars seem to like them, hipsters always look hip in what they buy from them, but I have always been disappointed by charity shops. The idea of them is lovely, but the reality is an overwhelming presence of used BHS.

I head to Highbury&Islington tube station and the Marie Curie shop – an intimidatingly large shop that turns out to be a hive of activity this Monday morning. It is the first Spring-like day in weeks, and everybody seems to have turned their thoughts to their new Spring wardrobe. Or something.

But no time to shop, on to the art section…

Marie Curie Shop

It was exciting sorting through the box. I experienced a mixture of sensations: at times like digging through undiscovered treasures. At others like trawling through the attic of someone you don’t like very much and discovering they have terrible taste in everything.

There was what looked like a 70s Clash poster, printed onto a metal sheet. It was supposed to hang on the wall and almost passed for a collectors item until I noticed at the small “2006” at the bottom.

This illustrates the danger of charity shop art nicely. There’s a lot of junk, and it is not always obvious what is worth something and what isn’t. And truth is, most of it isn’t worth very much.

After I accepted the fact that I wasn’t about to discover any lost masterpieces, I relaxed and just looked for what I liked. I found a print of Chatsworth House which was very pretty and a lovely wooden frame to go with it.

From my day of traversing charity shops, I have the following advice:

  1. Expect bad art (the horror, the horror!)
  2. Think frames – I bought two horrific pieces for the frames they were in.
  3. Prints – there was a surprising number of decent prints
  4. Watercolour – I have a few theories on why there are so many available in charity shops.
  5. Vases – if you are into them you won’t be disappointed.
My new picture

My new picture

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