Thursday, January 26, 2006

Great news at the Serpentine!

Good news at the Serpentine Gallery, where chief curator Rochelle Steiner is leaving to work in New York. Since reopening with Steiner at the reins the gallery has consistently put on duff shows that singularly fail to live up to their promise. Good artists have shown bad work, like Gabriel Orozco’s boring geometry paintings, or been curated in a deadening institutionalised manner like Blinky Palermo. And who can forget the opening exhibition by Manzoni that shut achromes away behind dusty Perspex boxes so that all their material qualities became imperceptible? Why bother? Doug Aitken, Richard Artschwager, The Kabakovs, Takashi Murakami, Oliver Payne & Nick Relph… the only thing I can think of that has really blown me away since the renovation was Stan Douglas, whereas previously every show had an excitement about it that made the trip to Kensington Gardens worthwhile. The increased financial worth of the loans that the renovations enabled, together with Steiner’s deadening touch have made the Serpentine a place to visit only for the fancy schmancy alcohol-fuelled openings in their cool pavilions.
Simultaneously, who should slip into his newly created seat as Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects but none other than the one and only wait for it… Hans Ulrich-Obrist. Rumour has it that he already has hundreds of great ideas for exhibitions swimming around in that great big shiny forehead of his. Can’t wait to see how things start to change over the next year or so. “The ICA can go jump in a lake” said Ulrich-Obrist, earlier.

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