June 06, 2009

A Boat as a Vessel

In the same building as the Architekturmuseum, Kunsthalle Basel has a solo show by UK artist, Lucy Skaer called: A Boat Used as a Vessel. This was an interesting installation too, playing with the mathematics of pattern, planar shifting and method transparency. Greatest pleasure came from her use of old furniture, antique tables, used as printing blocks, the tops carved into, inked and printed off. In the first room, a multi-leaf table centred in the space was mirrored on the walls by these prints, each different – depending how many leaves had been pulled out – and augmented with a simple graphic symbol or a colour, gave a sense of monumentality.

In another space, she had suspended a whale skeleton behind panels so that it could be glimpsed through the gaps and mirrored this with large drawings on paper on two facing walls. These drawings are schematic and decoratively buried in layers of pattern echoing the stuttering presence of the whale skeleton.

Actually my only problem with the show comes (as is often the case) with the verbiage accompanying it: “The play on words in the title rests on the formal and fucntional correspondence of the two nouns. The title reveals the multilayered process of naming and attributing meaning: while a boat can both literally be a vessel, it also becomes the vessel to hold the meaning of the title…” Save us from artists using language. If the title is so important why are “as” and “a” uncapitalised? If the two nouns are commutative and equivalent why isn’t it “A Vessel”? If it would have been “a Boat” but for the first “a” being at the beginning of the sentence, we have the issue of an artist interrogating language but not really. There’s a lot of it about.

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