One and Other

Art Free
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Should one of those shady data-analysis companies trawl the art world’s literature over the past few years and look for the most frequently used words, at the top of the list, surely, will be ‘identity’. And here – drum roll – comes yet another group show on the subject, courtesy of the Zabludowicz Collection.

Ed Atkins’s video piece, ‘No one is more WORK than me’, features a disembodied CGI head – Atkins recorded via motion-capture – begging for empathy: ‘Look into my eyes!’ Technology’s role in moulding identity is a point made more caustically by Amalia Ulman, who’s fast becoming the art world’s poster girl for social-media critique. Her ‘Excellences & Perfections’ project conned an entire discipleship of Instagram followers into thinking she had become an LA socialite, right down to faked boob-jobs and Kardashian-esque bullshit empowerment.

Just as uncomfortable – but also staggeringly funny – is David Blandy’s lip-syncing to Syl Johnson’s 1969 classic ‘Is It Because I’m Black’. The absurdity of (the white) Blandy, dressed as a minstrel, crooning ‘I was raiiiised in the ghetto’ asks questions about cultural appropriation. Turkish artist Ferhat’s Özgür’s ‘Metamorphosis Chat’ is more like a social experiment: he gets his mum, who wears a headscarf, to swap clothes with her less conservative friend. The piece is astoundingly sad because the two elderly ladies are so cheerfully tolerant of each other’s differences. Are younger generations, locked in their silos and echo chambers, as open-minded as this?

With all this moving-image work clamouring for attention, static pieces like Isa Genzken’s mannequin sculpture and Jon Rafman’s 3D-printed sculptures get lost in the din. But that’s not to say they don’t have roles to play. Rafman’s work is presented on mirrored plinths: it’s hard not to check your appearance. Narcissism, self-awareness and, yes, identity. The word seems inescapable.

By: Matt Breen


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