Zoo 2009, or the art world in recession…

With plenty of galleries and art fairs closed for good by the vagaries of the current recession, some might see it as a surprise that Soraya Rodriguez’s Zoo has survived at all. No longer billed as an art fair, Zoo 2009 (16-19 October 2009) was restructured to include more curated projects and a section given over to multiples. Becoming more ‘educational’ is, of course, one way of securing sponsorship when the commercial sector has become both less willing and less able to support shebangs of this type. The location for Zoo had also changed, although this had nothing to do with the recession; the event is now taking place in a dirty former industrial space at the southern end of Shoredtich High Street, on the edge of both the city and east London.
Of the curated exhibitions, the outstanding show was organised by The Lux in collaboration with students from Goldsmiths College. The main work on show in Film As A Subversive Art was changed each day, with residues of previous displays left in the space. I went on Monday 19 October when the featured work was Francisco Valdes Reagan (2003); this takes a possession scene from Hollywood horror blockbuster The Exorcist (1973) and replaces the filmed content with a series of animated drawings (the sound appeared to be identical to the original). On another level of the same building, Nicholas Burne and Anthea Hamilton’s Calypsos used a series of four TV screens to good effect in the space allotted to it, but wasn’t to my taste; this show was curated by Studio Voltaire.
Rob Tufnell’s attempt at an alternative take on psychedelia, Altogether Elsewhere, didn’t really work in its dirty environment and disappointed me in the choice of works – despite Jennifer West’s film projections being fun. As for The Filmic Conventions ‘curated’ by FormContent, this was an unmitigated disaster. There were two projections but most of the works were displayed on single monitors with a single set of headphones. This resulted in it being difficult to take in the works because there were too many people visiting the space to be comfortably accommodated with such a restrictive number of headphones; having two headphones connected to each monitor and more seating would have done much to resolve the problem. The films themselves were uniformly dire. The only merit I could see in the FormContent fiasco was that it prepared me for the room of editions being sold by 176, Camden Arts Centre, Chisenhale Gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts, ICA, Other Criteria, Paul Stolper, Peer, Serpentine Gallery, Studio Voltaire, The Multiple Store, White Cube and Whitechapel Gallery. To describe these displays as ‘depressing’ would be an exercise in understatement.
The prize exhibitions by Scoli Acosta and Clunie Reid were better than much of what was on the trade stands; the latter were almost as flatulent as the room of editions and multiples. Zoo is often seen as an opportunity for younger gallerists to flex their muscles and strut their sense of visual flair, but this year it was an old hand who had the only decent stand. Documentary material based around veteran live artist Stuart Brisley formed the core of England & Co’s display; but there was also work by the younger artists Chris Kenny, Georgia Russell, Harald Smykla and Jason Wallis–Johnson. Jane England looked to me to be far and away the oldest person manning a stand, but her eye is clearly far sharper than those of the younger gallerists.
“Former’ art fairs like Zoo aren’t the best way of taking in visual culture: there is too much too see, and since 99% of art is shit, the sheer volume of bad work makes it hard to appreciate the little that is good. Still, judged on Zoo, if the world economy has double-pneumonia, then the art world has the black death! All of which goes to prove once again that the current fiscal crisis is a groove sensation!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Zen Master K on 2009-10-20 17:20:48 +0000

Art without money now that sounds funny!

Comment by fi on 2009-10-20 19:51:41 +0000


Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-10-21 11:02:12 +0000

K “Art without money” – to me it doesn’t sound so different from something else you’re into – sex without love!

Comment by Mister Dog on 2009-10-21 11:48:09 +0000

Zoo? Woof woof!

Comment by Michael K on 2009-10-21 11:58:03 +0000

I’m in the middle of a spiritual and sexual revolution right now so I couldn’t go to Zoo or them indoors would have given me GBH of the earhole. Lummee. But I likes ’em feisty and Zoo 2009 has given me a great idea. Now we wait.

Comment by Psychedelic Sid on 2009-10-21 13:11:02 +0000

If you’d taken enough drugs everything would have looked good!

Comment by Fred The Freek on 2009-10-21 13:36:57 +0000

Only on the right drugs, on speed dead on arrival art looks even more fatally dead….

Comment by Marcel La Chambre on 2009-10-22 09:35:12 +0000

Come into my chambre Soraya. La Chambre Sheffield – 548 Attercliffe Road – the premier swinging club in Great Britain purpose built for the hedonistic enjoyment of liberated couples and singles…

Comment by Tristan Tzara on 2009-10-22 10:51:45 +0000

Art fair poddles shit brown on brown, whereas the rebel artists shits in all and on all the colours of all the flags of all the consulates….

Comment by Sick Mick on 2009-10-22 13:33:00 +0000

Enough of this old rubbish, what about some more Vicky Gold posts?

Comment by Typhoid Mary on 2009-10-22 14:08:57 +0000

Show some love and send a few of those Zoo artists over to my place for some of my home cooking….

Comment by Frank Discussion on 2009-10-22 20:28:08 +0000

You’ll never see me or The Feederz in an art exhibition!

Comment by This Is Not Jerry Dammers on 2009-10-22 20:57:52 +0000

where did they get those blank expressions?

Comment by Cesar A. Romero on 2009-10-22 21:20:39 +0000

If you ask me the whole pack of them are just a bunch of jokers!

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-10-23 03:35:02 +0000

Shitty art is the new groove sensation! From the Zoo to the charnel house!

Comment by oldrope on 2009-10-23 16:02:03 +0000

I prefer Zoo magazine – it’s a quarterly that has pictures of exotic wildlife sat in cages in the rain. They did a centre spread on Chester Zoo last issue and the tigers looked bored, as usual. Now that IS art.
If you are into the real hardcore shit you wanna go to Knowsley Safari Park

Comment by vicky mf gold on 2009-11-02 16:59:24 +0000

Yeah I am supposed to be doing a modelling strike outside topshop soon but I’ve just been magerly distracted by rap. I’m a rapper now and it’s AMAZING. I’m doing some rap in brick lane in a gallery for that first thursday thing with alex fear.I love rap, GOD I LOVE IT. I made one about how it’s hard 2 love and be a performance artist today.check it out. Anyway, yeah I heard the show sucked too 🙁 xxxx

Comment by Heba Escobedo on 2009-12-14 15:57:29 +0000

Sadly I think the only ones who will think this is solid advice, are the people who already know it.

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