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At Kettle’s Yard

Brian Dillon: ‘Linderism’, 7 May 2020

... sometimes with a twisted take on ageing glam rock: one of the mocked-up female faces looks like Brian Connolly, the lead singer of the Sweet. Linder initially drew or painted over found images: on a page from a Damart catalogue, for instance, she gave thermal underwear models garish lingerie and scurrilous genitalia. Guided by Ades’s book, she turned ...

At Tate Modern

Brian Dillon: Joan Jonas, 2 August 2018

... Joan​ Jonas bought her first video camera, a Sony Portapak, also known as the Video Rover, on a trip to Japan in 1970. In the history of video art, there is no more celebrated piece of kit. It’s said that on its release in 1965 Nam June Paik was the first artist to start using this newly consumer-priced set-up. Andy Warhol’s videos of the same year (including a dazed portrait of Edie Sedgwick) were made with a large borrowed Philips camera, but he too began using the smaller and simpler Sony in 1970 ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 6 September 2017

... On​ 28 April 1870, Miss Stella Boulton and Mrs Fanny Graham attended the Strand Theatre in London, where they made a spectacle of themselves, catcalling from their box to various men below. As the giddy pair left and approached their carriage, a plain-clothes detective stopped them: ‘I have every reason to believe that you are men in female attire ...

At the Hayward

Brian Dillon: ‘Invisible’, 2 August 2012

... Stare long enough into the void, Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil, and the void stares back at you. The trouble with nothing, no matter an artist or writer’s aspiration to the zero degree, is that it tends to reveal a residual something: whether a sensory trace of the effort at evacuation or a framing narrative about the very gesture of laconic refusal ...

In the Turbine Hall

Brian Dillon: Tino Sehgal, 27 September 2012

... For the past decade or so Tino Sehgal has been making museum-bound work that flexes definitions of ‘work’ and ‘museum’, and threatens to flummox that frequently harried personage, the ‘spectator’. Visitors to a Sehgal show may expect to be buttonholed, charmed, cajoled or ignored by the dozens of ‘interpreters’ – not quite actors, nor fully collaborators – whom he employs to perform or embody his work ...

At Tate Modern

Brian Dillon: Klein/Moriyama, 22 November 2012

... There are six people in the photograph, but only one of them knows it. A young woman in a crowd on Fifth Avenue in 1955 finds a lens in her face. People are not yet afraid of being photographed by strangers in the street; still, she leans away to her right, averts her gaze from the man’s impertinent Leica. Or so it seems: it’s hard to tell where she’s looking – she’s quite a blur, and her big dark eyes are further shadowed by overprinting ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Patrick Keiller, 7 June 2012

... A static shot, as always. On screen, in the sunshine, a bright yellow combine harvester is toiling across an Oxfordshire wheatfield like a paddle steamer in reverse, churning up a mist of chaff and dust. The machine growls very slowly out of sight – any second now the scene will surely cut away. But here it comes again from left to right, the camera still unmoving and far enough from the action, such as it is, to obscure the tiny figure in the vehicle’s cab ...

At the Royal Academy

Brian Dillon: Ai Weiwei, 7 October 2015

... Among​ the more modestly engaging works in Ai Weiwei’s spectacular and somewhat dispiriting exhibition at the Royal Academy (until 13 December) is a framed wire coathanger, stretched and bent to form a face in profile. It is recognisably the face of Marcel Duchamp, especially if you know his Self-Portrait in Profile, from 1957. Ai made Hanging Man in 1985, two years into a decade-long stay in New York, where he abandoned painting and fell under the spell of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and of course Duchamp: ‘The most, if not the only, influential figure in my so-called art practice ...

At the Foundling Museum

Brian Dillon: Found, 10 August 2016

... The Foundling Hospital​ was established in Bloomsbury in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram, ‘for the education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children’. Strictly speaking, they weren’t foundlings: the parents, or more usually the mother, had to hand over their offspring and were instructed to ‘affix on each child some particular writing, or other distinguishing mark or token, so that the child may be known thereafter if necessary ...

At the Design Museum

Brian Dillon: ‘Cycle Revolution’, 18 February 2016

... to look like this year’s fixies. I recently bought a lock for half the price of the bike. Brian Dillon on his pink Raleigh 18 in 1976. Cycle Revolution is an exhibition devoted to ‘extraordinary bicycles and the people that ride them’ (until 30 June). It is divided into four categories, none of which quite fits me: a practically minded ...

At the Ikon Gallery

Brian Dillon: Jean Painlevé , 31 May 2017

... Acera bullata​ is a species of hermaphrodite sea snail or slug, discovered on coasts from Norway to the Mediterranean. It grows up to six centimetres long, has a brown or white shell and a speckled body that may range in colour from grey to orange. In sheltered bays, these molluscs settle into fine, soft mud or muddy sand, where they mate in undulant chains, half a dozen at once ...

At the Towner Gallery

Brian Dillon: Carey Young, Palais de Justice, 4 April 2019

... The Palais de Justice​ in Brussels is a product of civic and architectural delirium, a Circumlocution Office looming over the historically working-class Marolles district like a sinister, secular basilica. It’s bigger than St Peter’s in Rome, covering an area of 26,000 square metres, with reputedly the largest accumulation of stone blocks in Europe ...

At the Jeu de Paume

Brian Dillon: Peter Hujar, 9 December 2019

... The​ American photographer Peter Hujar once told a friend who was feeling unattractive: ‘As you’re walking along, say to yourself: I’m me.’ Hujar’s subjects seem to have heeded the same advice: they exhibit a self-possession tending to the monumental. You can see it in his 1981 portrait of the actor Madeline Kahn. Hujar posed her in an empty studio, wrapped in a hulking, dark coat: she looks like a solid black mass from which face, hands and legs emerge ...

At the MK

Brian Dillon: Gerard Byrne, 23 March 2011

... About twelve noon on 13 November 1951, at a distance of about 200 yards, two distinct humps … something like a couple of ducks, not anything like a porpoise, or a walrus, or a whale, which have been suggested.’ Accounts of sightings of the Loch Ness monster, which provide one wryly mediated source for the Irish artist Gerard Byrne’s exhibition at the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes (until 3 April), have about them something of the cloud-spotting interlude between Hamlet and Polonius (‘’Tis like a camel, indeed … Or like a whale? … Very like a whale ...

At the Duveen Galleries

Brian Dillon: ‘The Asset Strippers’, 18 July 2019

... You enter​ Mike Nelson’s installation The Asset Strippers, Tate Britain’s latest commission for its Duveen Galleries (until 6 October), through a pair of wooden swing doors salvaged from the old Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital on Bolsover Street. For several years, Nelson has been acquiring industrial machinery and related artefacts from online auctions and liquidation sales; the first object in the exhibition is a wheeled pneumatic paint sprayer: a thing of tubes and cylinders, coiled rubber hose and steel nozzle, all caked in dark red paint ...

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