Monday, January 31, 2005

More on Fishing with John James by James Prior at Skol


Next on the list, of kick-ass art is the stuff by Mr. Prior. First off, completely ignore the gobbledy-gook and bafflegab associated with the exhibition. "...James Prior interprets reality and changes his appearance, drawing inspiration from feminist art and theory to undermine modern male stereotypes. Through themes of aging, love, and solitude, he mimics the photographic codes of family shots and documentary photography, revealing their hidden underpinnings."

Umm, can you say instead that this is a bunch of small and medium sized photographs hung willy-nilly on one wall, with a large aquarium sorta thing that holds a bunch of objects normally associated with fishing, sorta like a shrine or memorial, and the piece-de resistance, six (it could be seven or maybe five, I was too enthralled by it to even think of actually counting) fairly recent televisions on their sides, all running some looped videos that were static shots of six (or seven, or five) outboard motors. There might have been something else in the room, too. But after all the smoke, oil (I was certain I could smell it) and noise, I was too overcome to even so much as be able to glance at anything else.

While whoever wrote the press release desperately needs to discover a sense of humor, I would re-write it to say something along the lines of this:

In the same way that John Lurie fabricated an entire career out of making things up with no prior knowledge or experience beforehand, James Prior riffs off of what might be perhaps Mr. Lurie's greatest achievement, Fishing with John, in order to stand the whole outdoorsman thing on its ear. Sorta like, but not exactly like that which Tred Barta does. Taking a tired old form and breathing new life into it by doing things nobody else has.

Have you ever seen an exhibition on fishing inside a contemporary art gallery? Didn't much think so.

Enough with the re-write of the press release, let me foam at the mouth some on (as the folk at Skol put it) the A/V instalation. Remember the rush of adrenalin you got when you first heard Sonic Youth? Or Lamonte Young? Wagner? If you don't, stop right here, don't bother reading any more, and get yourself to a much more safe, sedate and quiet place, I think you might like something like this.

If on the other hand, the noise, and non-standard use of things to evoke new emotional responses in your young body by the aforementioned musicians is something that you remember fondly, then you'll get a kick out of (as the folk at Skol put it) the A/V installation by Mr. Prior. If you get a smile thinking about Keith Moon tossing a TV out of the window of the Hotel Bonaventure, this is for you.

Basically, the TV's are on their side, because that way, as small 10 horsepower outboard motors are taller than they are wide, you can see the motors in all their glory. Instead of Cinemascope or widescreen movie viewing you get narrowcasting. Then by filming the six (or seven, or five) motors and then screening them all at the same time (in a semi-circular fashion) Mr. Prior attempts (and somewhat succeeds) in overwhelming your senses - hence why I had the olfactory hallucination. I wouldn't call it a chorus of outboard motors, that implies way too much harmony, softness and things nice. It's more like an attempt at a bombastic massing of outboard motors, which because they are only 10 horsepower motors is doomed to failure. There ain't no way you can get a put-put to go BOOM!-BOOM! But you gotta give the guy props for trying. Personally I can't wait until Mr. Prior decides to go Powerboat Racing with John.

Oh yeah, the show goes on until the 12th of February, and Skol is in the Belgo Building, 372 Sainte Catherine West, #314 to be precise, they're open standard gallery hours (Wednesday - Saturday, noon to 5 pm).

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