9780714839240 / 0714839248

Fresh Cream


Publisher:Phaidon Press



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About the book:

A pillow? Possibly a medical sample? Or a conceptual gimmick? Suggesting the impermanence of perishable goods, once you remove this sequel to 1998's Cream from its plastic inflatable packaging and expose it to the air, a zeitgeist stopwatch starts to tick away. Bearing the dimensions and solidity of one of Carl Andre's infamous bricks, it showcases an orgy of emerging contemporary artists in the same way that 10 x 10 surveyed cutting-edge architecture. An introductory essay sees the 10 curators, under the stewardship of the Head of Exhibitions and Display at the Tate Modern, Iwona Blazwick, discuss via the Internet the criteria behind their selections. There is much talk of the YBAs (Young British Artists) and the London scene, but there are few British artists featured, though the satirical whimsy of David Shrigley (The Beast Is Near) merits strategic inclusion. Following 10 pieces of post-1990 writing selected by each curator, ranging from philosophical extracts to poetry, fiction and Cuban rock lyrics, comes the "exhibition-in-a-book", arranged in alphabetical order. While few of the "fresh cream" included here can be said to have yet risen to the top internationally (apart from the 2000 Turner Prize-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans), the breadth of vision encompassed is predictably vast: South America, the Far East and the former Eastern Europe feature heavily, with media including photography, video, sculpture, paper cut-outs, food, pipe-cleaners and even painting--occasionally. Although formidably disparate at first, glimpses of themes develop. Performance, masks, the timelessness of human physical form, site-specific creation and cultural consciousness recurrently surface, in art as diverse as Mexican "Acne Art", Jane Alexander's humanimals, Janet Cardiff's sculpted "walks" and Orla Barry's studies of seaside boulders. Inevitably a few may recede like so much froth, but the curatorship proves consistently thoughtful, personal and engaging, and should be applauded (along with publisher Phaidon) for facilitating a crucial platform from which to view these thriving worlds that lie outside the artistic mainstream. --David Vincent

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