This will be a bit of a follow up to my last post. I’m happy to say that Ganzeer, Mohammad Fahmy, read it and had a few things to say. The most important of these is that he felt I critiqued the exhibit as individual pieces, rather than as a contextual collection of work. It’s unfortunate that his retweet of my link to his review had to include his assumption that I did not “get” the essence of his show just because I didn’t like it, but I’m glad we got to chitchat about it anyway.
I’ll attempt to critique the entire exhibit as a whole then. As I stated in my last post, the entire body of work on the top floor of the Safar Khan gallery was, at best, mediocre. The intention was to take the piss of that type of production, in contrast to the more, progressive, forward, countercultural work downstairs. The latter appears to be gradually taking over the space, lending to the notion that graffiti and counter-cultural, anti-establishment imagery is making its way across the more mundane- hence “The Virus is spreading”. That was fairly clear to anyone familiar with Ganzeer’s abilities- he just doesn’t create that awful level of artwork unless it’s intentional, as I mentioned in my last post.
Now. My personal opinion is that there’s enough of that work out there, and that Ganzeer could’ve used this great amount of visibility to create actual good work rather than waste this opportunity on creating parodies of mediocre work. We have enough Duchamp-like efforts these days, what we need is more originality so that people can actually tell the difference. (Marcel Duchamp and his Dada movement, whose essence was to make fun of the artistic establishment at that time, did so in 1917. It was a significantly stronger art establishment, and his efforts were a lot more scarring than this example we have here. Also, we need new tactics, 95 years later).
The idea in itself was alright, but the work upstairs was too tweaked into becoming simply bad to reference establishment type work (which is too generalised an approach to work created by local university staff, students, government sanctioned artists and so on, because not all of it is awful. Most of it perhaps, but not all). More importantly, this particular concept stands if the work on the bottom floor is groundbreaking and awesome in contrast. It wasn’t. Some may argue that that was due to the censorship- but I personally found it to be greatly underachieving considering the amount of talent that was employed in its making.
Perhaps that was reason behind my reduction of the exhibit into its individual pieces: that the concept was clear but not sound enough to hold the exhibit up on its own. Mohammad Fahmy much appreciated this more holistic line of critique, and because it’s always nice and refreshing to have artists like their own critique- here it is.