? (review of Omnibus documentary)- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: ? (review of Omnibus documentary)
Date: 07 November, 1995
Journal: The Independent (tabloid section)
Author: Thomas Sutcliffe
Type of resource: Reviews
Status: original
No. views: 1701
Description: Excellent review of the Omnibus program; says a lot about art and the art system.

? (review of Omnibus documentary)

By Thomas Sutcliffe (07 November, 1995, The Independent (tabloid section))

A little over a year ago, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty (aka the K Foundation), featured in Omnibus, withdrew £1million from their bank in new £50 notes and burned it. They had earned the money by making pop records but its destruction was an attempt at a career change, the second part of a projected exhibition called "Money - A Major Body of Cash". In an earlier work, they had nailed another £1 million to a wooden frame and attempted to donate it to a gallery. They found no takers, either because the art world was still sulking about their cheeky upstaging of the 1993 Turner Prize, or because a million in readies is a rather more liquid asset than a Turner water-colour and liable to attract the wrong sort of gallery-goer.

At first, the K Foundation appeared confident about this provocative performance. They had mastered "about-speak", the indispensible dialect for the contempory artist. "It's about controlling the money," they said. This seemed naive - the long history of incineration shows that whether you're burning people of books, fear is often the principal motive. And six months after their expensive bonfire, the gesture appears to have left the taste of ashes in the mouth. Drummond and Cauty are sufferring for their art, plagued by "the possibility that it's a load of rubbish and complete waste of time".

The Omnibus film about this intriguing pair was in part a rear-guard action in their continuing battle for recognition (and a victory - for some people, after all, art is what appears on Omnibus). It was also a peculiarly modern fable about what constitutes an artist - will the artist's say-so do, or do you need the validation of the galleries? "You can't simply decide you're going to become an artist," said one gallery owner haughtily, which left you wondering how else the vocation might operate, A lottery system? Secret-ballot election?

For my money (meagre though it is), the video which recorded the laborious process of immolation was a decidedly intriguing work - rather more provoking than some contempory work I've seen. For established galleries, the medium used (video, bank-notes, fire) is obviously an embarrassment, but if poverty of material is not to disqualify artworks (bricks or lard, say) why should the expense of the material? Omnibus ended with reversed film of the fire, clumps of notes fluttering from the flames into the stokers' hands. I don't know whether this was a directorial stroke or part of the original film, but it was a brilliant touch: a dream of restoration, well worth the price of admission.


There are 0 comments for this record
You can leave a comment below.

Enter your comment on this KLF reference

Note: all HTML tags will be stripped from your comment except for <b>, <i> and <br>.
Entering unclosed tags may cause the rest of your post to be discarded.

Are you human or a spammer?
Because of spam, I must ask you to enter a 3 letter code to prove that you are a human with a real comment. The code you must enter is the subject of this website. Hint: Kings of the Low Frequencies. Keep Looking Forward. Kopyright Liberation Front.