Sunday, 30 October 2011

Happy Days In The Art World

Tramway, Glasgow
3 stars
There's an uber-cool whiff of Hollywood as well as Samuel Beckett about
this new show by Berlin-based Scandinavian art duo Elmgreen & Dragset,
which this weekend received two low-key work-in-progress previews en
route to a full run at the Performa festival in New York. The first
comes in the form of real life movie star Joseph Fiennes onstage. The
second, despite the title, looks to Beckett's other existential
masterpiece, Waiting For Godot, for guidance.

Fiennes plays one of two men who wake up on bunk-beds in a black room,
too hungover to remember where they were the night before or why
they're all dressed up in identical black suits. The private view
babble that sounds as the lights go down gives the game away in spades,
however. Fiennes' ID and Charles Edwards' ME are idealised versions of
their authors, an art-star double act trapped in a self-reflexive
bubble. They're waiting for salvation, not from Godot, but the
Guggenheim.

In what's effectively a great big elaborate in-joke, overwrought gospel
versions of portentous U2 epics and all, Elmgreen & Dragset laugh at
their own pseudyness even as they revel in it. This is especially the
case with the helicoptered-in arrival of blind fed-ex courier BI, who
doubles as their version of Godot's Lucky. Her spewed-out speech,
however, references Derrida, Lacan, Tate Modern and other coffee-table
art-scene iconography absorbed by rote.

With script advice from Forced Entertainment's Tim Etchells, it's hard
to fault the slickness of Toby Frew's production, however old-fashioned
it all looks. In the end, ID and ME carry on regardless just as their
Beckettian forbears did, the Turner pointlessly in their sights.

The Herald, October 24th 2011

ends

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