Anthony Shapland & Michael Cousin
We’re not here to give you pleasure is pretty self-explanatory as far as titles go. However, we would like to add a small introduction to the show. We would like to start by saying that we do not want to make any big statements or bold claims, but neither do we wish to meet anyone half way, so we hope this much is clear from the start.
We suppose we should at least tell you how and why we have arrived via Frankfurt and Edinburgh (the first two legs of this show that begun in October last year), at this point of showing 14 artists who are scattered all over Europe.
The basic premise of these shows has been to bring together a people who we think are interested in trying to show something that has not been seen before. This may seem pretty elementary for an exhibition, but as curators of this shape-shifting show, we have been acutely aware of trying not to impose a sort of house style or theme on the artists that we are working with. Firstly they wouldn’t listen to us and secondly we wouldn’t want them to. Our relationship with the artists in this show is very much based on us trusting them to do what they do best in order for us to do what we do best. It seems basic to us that anyone visiting an art gallery is there because they would like to see something they haven’t seen before or wouldn’t see anywhere else, like on TV for instance. Maybe we are on our own on this one but it seems obvious to us that this is the real function and possibility of a gallery.
Throughout the shows each of the artists have made new work for each of the locations we have shown in and yet the title has not changed and this is very much part of it. The show has become an accumulator of reactions to this title and intent, which change with time and location. It is a place where amnesia and empiricism check out each other’s moves and leave the results there for inspection.
We understand that here we are tiptoeing dangerously close to that great statement precipice. But what we hope to achieve with the work is to make inroads into neutralising the somewhat blinkered effect that over exposure to so called quote, un-quote ‘shocking’ work has had.
was once forced to withdraw a piece of work from a show because it was deemed to be the wrong flavour of shocking and although we couldn’t share this pain together at the time, this has become a key reference point for us both since we started this project. The term ‘shocking’ seems to have been conveniently slipped in as the definition for what is engaging and provocative in an art work, putting a lot of the inherent ideas beyond discussion or reach.As Charles’s piece in this show refers to, this is a dumbing down of language and not an expansion of it. We are reduced to ‘isms’ and ‘alities’ which, for us are too close neighbours to the winks and nods of a confidence trickster for our liking.
The pleasure we talk of in the title is this pleasure of having your beliefs confirmed. This is not to say there isn’t pleasure to be had here, it’s just not the pleasure you were expecting.