While in melbourne, i had intended to buy the current issue of frieze, but couldn’t, for the life of me, find it anywhere! not even in mag nation! so instead, i indulged in buying a UK art mag i had never seen before, but noticed it had some really interesting articles.
Tate, Etc, apart from being an art mag with the worst title ever, is a surprisingly good read. it’s got a nice mix of pretty pictures and the articles are fucking great! they’re not so heavy that you get lockjaw from chewing through them, but not so light on that you might as well have bought who?, hello! or OK!.
Some of the higlights for me have been the articles written by external writers, artists, musicians, scientists, etc about their experience of works in the Tate Collection called MicroTate. Plus, there are also 4 different perspectives on works by a master – this time it was Hans Holbein the Younger, with Chuck Close, writing about Erasmus of Rotterdam.
Other top articles included one on erasure and the various ways in which the erased, absence or censored is treated in contemporary art. Writer Brian Dillon looked at a survey of artists, from Aleksander Rodchenko and his blacking out of executed leaders of Communist Party from photographs, to Idris Khan‘s overlaid images of the Koran and Chopin’s works creating a superimposed nothingness. He also referenced Ignasi Abalif‘s correction fluid works, Correction and Big Mistake as well as Michael Gondry‘s film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as works about what’s underneath the apparent erasure. And this of course lead to an article on Robert Rauschenberg‘s Erased de Koonig Drawing as an amazing performance of erasure. Two articles on the same topic, from different perspectives! Amazing!
David Smith has 3 articles dedicated to him and his work – two of which were written by his daughters. This was related to an exhibition being held at the Tate, but instead of it feeling like an outright plug, they use the mag to further investigate some of the ideas, to present different aspects of the artist and his work, and delved a little deeper than the media release.
Fischli and Weiss get a look-in, as do the Chapman Brothers‘ treatment of Goya – and whose exhibition will still be there when i get there in May – yess!!
Plus there was a freakily synchronious article by Will Self on the art of fiction. Self looks at how artists are portrayed in fiction, which i always find interesting because i actually read fiction too – not just art mags! and not only does he mention Dorian Gray (the book i’ve almost finished thanks to leaving it at home before i went on holidays), but refers to JG Ballard, who i’ve now heard mentioned at least 3 times by different people and have decided to check him out. The interesting aspect that that article (apart from said synchronicity) was his thoughts on having to be somewhat ‘in the know’ when reading about art/artists in books and the mistake of writing about artists as a character of art, rather than a character. OK, so it’s hard to condense, and i’m not so articulate when it comes to reviewing articles, but it’s a worthy read, OK.
Other big surprise was that there are a few ads in the mag, but they don’t take up pages 1 – 69 and 80 – 153 (unlike frieze), and it’s a variety of commercial and non-profit ads, plus the usual subscription boost for Tate.
I get the sense from reading this mage that these brits actually engage with their public art galleries and the collections within. And that the public art galleries expect a certain level of interest from them in return. There was no hint of patronising or populist exhibitions in the way that some of the galleries in Australia do.(If getting a bunch of people that aren’t writers to write about art is populist, well, i can deal with that.) There’s even an article about a writer getting to check out the Tate archives and channeling Paul Nash through his paintbox!
Man, if Agnes Wales let me at some of their archives, i could write pages!