Exhibitions2012Gavin & Turk

Gavin & Turk

9 Feb 12

Ben Brown Fine Arts

The schizophrenic title for this show represented Turk's career-long interrogation of authorship, identity and the handmade as he paid homage to the Italian conceptual artist, Alighiero Boetti. 

Boetti was fascinated by symbols and created embroideries of the world map, with each country made from its own flag. He saw his role as orchestrator, rather than executer of a work, with his original Mappa's based on a schema by friend and collaborator Rinaldo Rossi and embroidered by a team of craftswomen in Kabul, Aghanistan. Emulating Boetti, Turk collaborated with a production team to create his embroideries. The designs were worked up by members of Fine Cell Work, a charity and social enterprise teaching needlework to prison inmates in order to support the rehabilitation process.

Believing strongly in the importance of hand making as a way to artistic freedom, Turk embraced the labour-intensive production process of embroidery. This is in direct contrast to the machine fabrication of industrial processing, referred to in the Mappa del Mundo. Here Turk had collected squashed rubbish - crisp packets, drinks cans, cigarette packets, etc, then collaged them into a two-dimensional world map, to prepare an image for embroidering.

Gavin & Turk included a series of small 'arazzi', intricate embroideries featuring various permutations of 'GAVIN TURK', as well as various other homages to Boetti: glimmering, gold leaf works on paper, biro pieces and a life-size bronze self-portrait. The latter was doubly referential, being Boetti’s homage to Bruce Nauman’s 1966 performance photo Self-Portrait as a Fountain, in which the artist is seen, bare-chested, spitting a jet of water into the air. In Turk’s Self-Portrait (fountain) the fully clothed artist douses himself with a garden hose.