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Volume 36 no 1 September / October 2021

Features: Cancelling art: from populists to progressives – Jela Krečič We cannot escape the aesthetics of what we create – Daniel Nanavati Robyn Day Interview with Scott Turri NFTs and conceptualism – Catheryne Kelly Did Duchamp pave the way for Donald Trump? – Miklos Legrady The Moorhouse Fish – Martha Benedict Departments: Editorial Daniel Nanavati, Cornwall, UK Speakeasy Modernism, Formalistic …

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Speakeasy – Volume 36 no 1 September / October 2021

Modernism, Formalistic Abstraction’s Lost Sibling   An article, titled “Controversy vs Quality”, was featured prominently in the May 21 issue of the Wall Street Journal, and was fairly typical of its kind, in that it was an appeal to do away with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as we know it. The pretext for this execution call was …

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Cancelling Art: From Populists to Progressives

Jela Krečič According to the Slovene philosopher Mladen Dolar, the Covid pandemic acts like a magnifying glass that exposes and magnifies the more dire antagonisms in contemporary societies, from rising social inequality and the increased exploitation of women to contemporary forms of racism. It’s hard to judge if Covid-19 also amplified latent and already visible antagonisms within the art system …

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Interview with Robyn Day

Scott Turri Chicago-based artist Robyn Day uses photography and all of its inherent complexity as a vehicle to explore and engage with queerness: identity, gender, sexuality, culture, and community. The work is conceptually driven and often attempts to subvert or reinforce perceptions about the nature of photography. However, Day is beholden to her craft as well. Because of this complex …

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Evasion of the Material – NFTs and Conceptualism

Catheryne Kelly Last issue saw Al Jirikowic equate the NFT to ‘mental dust’, and as this phenomenon continues it’s high time to lift it’s veil of total intangibility with a brief glance towards Conceptualism. “[P]rofound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful” said Paul Valéry, and if I were as gifted a wordsmith, I would have uttered …

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Did Marcel Duchamp Pave the Way For Donald Trump?

Why if? Let’s pretend.  Marshall McLuhan pointed out that in the 1960s art was anything you could get away with. That sounds exciting but it raised concerns; political science does say your culture is your future. The conundrum of course is that if your future is anything they can get away with, where will you run to? Perhaps the public …

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The Moorhouse Fish: Heirlooms and History

Martha Benedict Mantelpieces are places of memory and connect us to family history through the objects we choose to display there. Growing up I was always fascinated by the unusual stone fish that occupied, rather precariously, the fireplace at home. After a particularly raucous birthday party the fish fell from its perch and its tail snapped off! Knowing that it …

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Breath, Ghosts, Blind

Liviana Martin This venue, once a Pirelli factory, has been converted into a 15,000 square-metre exhibition space, one of the largest in Europe, and consequently has the ambience of a secular cathedral. Here, where until recently locomotives and agricultural machinery were assembled, three works by Maurizio Cattelan are being shown, under the enigmatic but important title Breath, Ghosts, Blind. Cattelan …

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Picasso Ibero

Gill Fickling I’ve never really liked Picasso. Call me a philistine, call me art-ignorant, but I’ve always found his work cold, detached and cruel. Except for Guernica of course, which reduced me to tears. My antagonism was reinforced on reading the book Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot, his lover and mother of two of his children. He did NOT …

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Paula Rego – There are no Words

Catheryne Kelly How do you solve a problem like reviewing Paula Rego? The fact is, I’m at odds with where to start. This is a retrospective that over-delivers, overstimulates, and quite frankly I’ve been given too much to think about. Yet I’d be disappointed with anything less. Her work minnows in and out of fantasy and reality, politics and folklore, …

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The Masterpiece Delusion

Laura Gascoigne Thank God for books. When shut off from real life, you can see it reflected in novels. But how accurate is the reflection? Does the mirror distort? In month 10 of the no-longer-new-abnormal I sat down with a stack of novels about artists. Some I’d read before, others were new, chief among them the fons et origo of …

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The Mountain Lake Symposium and Workshop: Art in Locale

Margaret Richardson Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, away from urban art centers, a “radically subversive” program began in 1980 with the goal of cultivating a “meaningful context or ‘culture’ for art”. The Mountain Lake Symposium and Workshop provided a serious but friendly forum for artists, critics, and academic and local participants. Eschewing the concerns of the commercial art world, …

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Peter Fox – Art Exhibition at Redwing Gallery, Penzance

Mary Fletcher   There are 11 new paintings in this show. Peter Fox has been able to work during lockdown, relishing the quiet and the increased birdsong. Birds feature largely in these works, plus the enigmatic bird-headed goddess figure he first drew years back, whose origins probably lie in Vinca northern European culture from a time before writing. These images …

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