‘Africa Remix’ at the Hayward

I went to see Africa Remix (an exhibition of contemporary African art) at the Hayward Gallery today.

It was the predictable mix of a few good pieces, a sea of mediocrity and some absolute stinkers. I’m sure that’s been true of most broad surveys of contemporary art at any period in history.

I didn’t take any notes (or shell out twenty quid for the catalogue), so I’m afraid I can’t name names, but here are some comments.

The award for most heavy-handed work is shared between two pieces, both video work. One was called something like ‘crossing the line’ and was a video of someone’s feet, filmed from above and projected on the floor so you’re looking down from about where the camera would be. There was a little ditch carved out of the floor, like a gutter. The feet flirted with crossing the line, but didn’t, to the soundtrack of slightly cracked laughter. The information for the piece explained that it was exploring the idea of madness and ‘crossing a line’. In other words, it’s a clich


the Turner Prize and Gwen/Augustus John

I went to the Tate to see the Turner Prize exhibition and the Gwen John and Augustus John.

I thought the Turner Prize was a distinct step up from last year; but then last year I thought two of the four artists on display were complete duds.

I always think it’s a pity that most of the TP press coverage is of the Daily Mail outraged-of-Tumbridge-Wells kind, always asking ‘is it really art?’. Because that’s a stupid philistine question, and one that naturally provokes an outraged defence of the TP from right-thinking people like me who believe that to write off the Turnmer Prize entries is to write off most of modernism in art – and that would be a pity. Whereas the TP is crying out for a more subtle and interesting public debate; including the point that many of the entries are just crap.

The one that most annoyed me last year was the video of a man running over a bridge in Belfast, cut together so that he ran and ran and ran and never reached the end. The particular bridge used is one that joins Catholic and Protestant areas. But the image of someone running and running and never getting anywhere is a huge filmic clich