always a blow in advance



Without doubt it was ironic that the exhibition Ruins of Glamour, Glamour of Ruins, which was concerned with the destruction of ‘glamour’, was itself ‘destroyed’ by unknown members of the audience. In response, we began to think about taking ‘revenge’ in the form of an exhibition of work which was already destroyed, thus disappointing the audience – “always a blow in advance.”

We thought of inviting a number of artists to contribute a work which would be set alight and burned in the space just prior to the opening of the exhibition of the still smouldering ruins. We knew by now of course, that this meant finding an alternative or non-art space so that we would not have the administrative problem of Health and Safety and Fire Risk.

Surprisingly, this ‘suicidal strategy’ met with a number of enthusiastic responses. However, over time we began to consider that the ‘destroyed work’ was somewhat literal, and whilst it may well have disappointed the audience, it would too easily have provided fuel for our enemies …

Following our participation in the D & S Austellung in Hamburg and conversations with curator and critic Thomas Wulffen concerning Difference and Simulation, we began thinking not only of repetition and difference, 1 but also of repetition and disappointment.

We first met Michael Corris at his exhibition in Paris and shortly after he wrote a review of our exhibition at Gimpel Fils Gallery for ArtForum magazine. So we invited him to participate in our dramatisation of disappointment now called Recent History. He agreed and constructed a custom-made response as if by commission. Three reviews he had written for, and published in ArtForum; of Art in Ruins, of Art & Language, and of Amikam Toren, were reproduced in black on black promotional advertising display boxes.


Recent History. Curated by Art in Ruins. 
Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, UK 1991
Michael Corris. Recent History

Everything went smoothly, with all the work installed by all the artists on décor walls. A few days after the opening we met up with Michael Corris somewhere in East London for the launch of a public poster project. There he announced to us that Ingrid Sischy, the editor of ArtForum, was coming to London for a couple of days and he would be showing her around.
“That’s great” we said “you’ll be able to take her to see Recent History.”
“She won’t be interested in going all the way to Canterbury” he replied
“But she’s American … she’ll love the train journey through the countryside … she’ll love the historic city … the magnificent cathedral … and especially Recent History.”
“I can’t really do that …” he protested
“Come on Michael … you’re from New York and you’re telling us that you can’t promote an exhibition which you’re involved in?”
He frowned and we changed the subject.

A few days later he rang us to say that Ingrid had asked him to do an article on “young British art.” We were surprised that he had agreed.
“But Michael, how can you do it … you’re currently taking part in an exhibition which challenges the whole idea of art as fashion and the obsession with the “next new thing.”
“How do you know what I’m going to write?” he responded.

Some weeks later an ArtForum cover feature by Michael Corris entitled “British? Young? Invisible? with/Attitude?” appeared. 2 Although the article includes Mariko Mori, Rachel Evans and Critical Decor from the exhibition, Recent History is relegated to a footnote in the promotion of ‘the next new generation.’

We were disappointed.