June 24, 2004

We are Just Loving...


THIS INSIGHTFUL REVIEW OF THE RECENT FIRE IN LONDON that put paid to millions of dollars of really rotten art: via artburn:

A controversial display of burnt work has divided the world of art into non-identical halves, like a dead bisected animal.

The exhibition, London Fire Brigade Incident: L05/1143, features more than 100 incinerated conceptual pieces by some of Britain's best-known artists, including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Phil and Grant Mitchell, Guto Uhu, Dan Collins, Mark Woods, Alex Johnson and Fanny Ciabatta.

Some critics have praised the boldness of the show's 'anti-curatorial' approach to contemporary art, which challenges public perceptions of what ash really is, and how much it may be worth, both in terms of cultural meta-narrative and the insurance.

Others say it could have been an accident, or arson.

The fire transformed London's Saatchi Warehouse into a searing indictment of ordinary objects, space, form, flammable material and structure. Works lost include The Mitchell Brothers' Glued Airfixion and an embroidered hammock - All The Slags Who Have Slagged Me Off This Week So Fucking Far - by Emin.

Firefighters on overtime and a postponed 3.5% pay rise struggled for four hours to bring the blaze under control. Many wore breathing apparatus, slashed frocks and transplanted penises.

A fire brigade spokesman said: "We think the fire started in an adjoining factory unit at about 0400 hours. When we arrive at the scene, however, these first thoughts are displaced by feelings of existential nausea. We seem to be observing a kind of claustrophobic, personal apocalypse. Yet at the same time we cannot avoid a sense that somehow the fire is looking at us..."

Also on the scene were several specialist units of video installation artists. A selection of short filmed pieces with doleful, confessional voiceovers will be screened later this year in a mini-season at the ICA.

Darcy Farquear'say of the Creative on Sunday believes the destruction of so many iconic, tinder-dry works of art is made more tragic by a slightly nasty, or comical, sub-text. "Future generations will not now have the opportunity to see for themselves what these pieces were like. It will certainly add to their mystique, as they aren't actually there any more".

He believes further art fires will follow. "Charles Saatchi is a trend-setter. If he now owns a collection of iconic art reduced to cinders, other collectors will follow. I think - certainly for the purposes of Radio 4's Today programme - we may be witnessing the birth of a new movement. Post-Materialism, possibly. Or something with 'phoenix' in it."

Posted by Vanderleun at June 24, 2004 3:19 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

How the trend spreads - A piece of Palo Alto civic art, Digital DNA, burned in a warehouse fire. Perhaps art warehouse fires can become an annual affair.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis at June 25, 2004 6:33 AM