Cover image of the review

Project 17: Radical Immanence

4 Mar 2017
10 Feb - 18 Mar 2017

Curated by Chantelle Mitchell

In Radical Immanence, curator Chantelle Mitchell aims to present artists sincerely engaged with their material. And it is around the idea of the sincere that the exhibition as a whole both coalesces and dissolves. On the one hand, the idea of sincerity asks us to consider the artist as a figure deeply engaged in their material, absorbed in it. Yet on the other hand, once sincerity is on display, it recedes and becomes complex, becomes a performance. The opposition between theatre and absorption, famously described in the 1960s by critic Michael Fried, transfers over to the figure of the artist who is presented as deeply, honestly and directly engaged with their material practice

Fried evaluated absorption as ‘good’ and theatre as ‘bad but necessary’. His idea was that the theatrical needed to be overcome in order for art to appear. Yet perhaps we can dispense with the idea of overcoming to still find these terms useful. Sincerity, as a unifying theme of this exhibition, operates within a dialectic very similar to Fried’s: engagement, deep concentration, contemplation, absorption, all operate at a level suitable to high art. Meanwhile, the value of display, performance, self-consciousness and theatre is lowered. We could quite easily add sincerity and insincerity to these oppositions. But do we really need this moral hierarchy? Perhaps these are best understood as two sides of the same coin.

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