Bad Gallerist: Ed Young goes fucktard

Photo: Alex Dodd


30 September 2018

With some power shows opening in town tonight, I found myself having to make some tough calls — and started on impulse with Ed Young’s Bad Gallerist exhibition at SMAC, which was quite ecstatically sardonic, churlish and badass.

I particularly loved the pared-down gallery walls all bleeding with the industrial muck of yore, which formed a fabulous backdrop for Young’s ultra-pristine white canvases showcasing one smartass, on-fleek, fucktard phrase per surface, keying into the sub/postliterate cultishness of social media fadishness and the easy transmissability of the discourse of fast identity politics.

I was quite transfixed by the slow-throbbing kadonk-kadonk bass-beat video work which was a kind of word sculpture in motion putting forth some pressing philosophical questions and propositions vis a vis the total corruption and co-option of the white cube space by wall-to-wall, dog-eats-dog ultra-lux capitalism — all very self-consciously ironic, of course, bearing in mind that the show was being convened within the very well-lit real estate of said white cube.

Aptly mystified by the one single canvas that mysteriously declared: ‘Dan Halter’, I decided on the spur to venture forth to whatiftheworld to see what Dan Halter is actually up to. And there I discovered that there is, in fact, some beguiling intertextuality between the visual languages in which both artists are currently speaking.

Both, in very different formal ways and to very different ends, are trafficking in the reduced language codes of mobile communication — the way it reduces language to its survivalist core and pith. And with that brevity and compression in mind, I’ll stop right here for fear of overspilling the bounds of this form.

Ed Young’s exhibition BAD GALLERIST is showing at the SMAC Gallery in Cape Town until 22 September 2018.

This review was initially posted on Instagram, @thisalexandradodd

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