Friday, July 17, 2009

The Fool

Barenzirkus is installed at this show for a couple of months :

The Fool

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland

Dates: 31st July–19th September 2009

With Katia Bassanini, Natasha Caruana, Marcos Chaves, Moyna Flannigan, Michael Gardiner, Alexander Heim, Jim Hollands and Nick Osborn

More than an amusing diversion, the fool, with his bursts of cautionary homespun wisdom, had a very real function. The clown has been a staple subject in Western art for hundreds of years; a prime vehicle through which to ask fundamental questions.” Iain Gale on Alex Pollard, 2007

‘The Fool’ re-imagines the figure of the clown, the jester and the dandy for the twenty-first century, where the role of the Shakespearean ‘fool’ has a new relevance in contemporary art. Following the examples of predecessors like Bruce Nauman and Paul McCarthy, artists here, repeatedly portrayed comic or tragic fool-like figures to articulate their ideas.

For the artists the figure of ‘the fool’ is a way of taking a ‘vantage point’ – we might say a disadvantage point – from which to view society’s rituals and codes of conduct. For painters like Moyna Flannigan and Alex Pollard, their images almost resemble those of fairground mirrors, in which everything is distorted, and yet we recognise something new about ourselves. For filmmakers like Nick Osborn, drawing on the theatre of Antonin Artaud and Samuel Beckett, ‘the fool’ is the only figure able to discuss those subjects forbidden in polite society. For photographers like Michael Gardiner, the age-old tradition of the ‘carnivalesque’ in which the rules of our ordinary life are upended, is alive and well – and to be found in the most unexpected places.

‘The fool’ makes strange our relations to one another: he can tell uncomfortable truths when everyone around is bowing to received wisdom.


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