mercredi 12 mars 2008

Bedwyr Williams (Store, London)

Had you been at the opening of Bedwyr Williams’ show you might have giggled to see the artist lying on a camp bed beneath a mosquito net, playing Welsh orchestral music into a mic from his mobile phone. And you might have shuffled uncomfortably as the music went on for longer than anticipated, then raised a smile once more as Williams announced: ‘Right, that’s the performance bit over with.’ Later, for those who wished to think about the Proustian significance of sweets, jelly beans were available. They sit on the floor now in envelopes beneath a dart board, which may or may not have been used on the night. Herein lies the problem with viewing an exhibition by the artist/ comedian/performer. While it would be cruel and wrong to keep Williams in a cage in the office and drag him out for amusement every time someone entered the gallery, pondering whether an object is a sculpture or a prop for a performance isn’t engaging. You can’t help feeling like you’ve missed the main attraction, that the art is a husk, and to a degree Williams, a tireless deflater of ego, colludes in this. Action-hero antics are sent up in one sculpture – a miniature ski-lift that glides across the room with a photographic cut-out of the artist dangling from one of the carriages. Another sculpture depicts a dead eco-artist; an axe was apparently plunged into his back before he had a chance to finish a nice arrangement of twigs. Extracting humour from the pompous desire to conquer the world is a staple of Williams’ art. Here he transposes the idea to the art world itself by crafting miniature, wall-mounted galleries like the Segontium Gallery with its tinny Euro-rave music and embracing, silhouetted couple. Here, at least, every night is opening night. Martin Coomer, Mon Feb 25
According to the press release for this exhibition, Bedwyr Williams has given up being nice. Since his nomination for the Beck's Futures Award in 2006, he gained something of a reputation for being endearing. It is the combination of humour and pathos that does it. Whether he's pondering his big feet or posing as a Welsh bard, nothing changes. Anyway, that said, Williams' new show turns his ire on other artists, illustrating their stupidity and their self-awarded outsider status. From taking risks with heavy machinery, getting beaten up in the name of art and performing amateur taxidermy, he bemoans their arrogance with characteristically dry humour. I think I like this new Williams even more than the old one. Jessica Lack

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