turn out to be motion capture dots, another special effect linked with postproduction. Gallerists used to nurture their beer bellies at private drinking clubs; now they have personal trainers to watch their waistlines for them. The rest of the gallery is taken up with case studies and archival material from WITH’s extensive range of products, including GAP (FEAR), for which an agent will travel the world on your behalf. It is not difficult to see the appeal, given that gap years or ‘sabbaticals’ are now expanding into the kidult market. Even artists, who used to make do with colonising a nearby seaside resort for the summer months, are now considered provincial unless they regularly visit the world’s biennials and art fairs. At Rokeby, antique wooden slide boxes, embossed with the company’s silver logo and labelled alphabetically according to destination, pay suitably luxurious if retro testament to a worldwide tour. However, it seems that this WITH agent has indulged in a spot of extra-curricular time travel: the dates neatly recorded on the slides range from the 50s to the 80s. Despite its cryptic statements and Scientology-style self-mythologisation, it is obvious by now that WITH is not a real organisation. In fact, the names of its supposed directors – the artists Alasdair Hopwood and Sean Parfitt – are teasingly lightly crossed out in a framed letter from Granada about their reality TV show ‘Re-design Your Life’. Nonetheless, WITH’s ideas are only too plausible in a world of quick-fix solutions and gadgets, whether women’s magazines promising ‘10 Steps To A Younger You’, a Wii console offering a cathartic game of virtual street fighting, or Nicole Kidman advertising a pocket brain-game. WITH’s TRAUMAFORMER solution, designed to ‘imagineer’ a more traumatic past for those bored by their lifelong good fortune and happiness, is a perverted, satirical reversal of the pressures to conform to some idealised notion of self, not only physically but also psychologically, and of the ready availability of consumer products and TV shows to correct any perceived flaws.
After years of operating as a largely underground artists’ project, WITH’s first commercial outing is surprisingly successful, particularly in its gratuitous exploitation of the current trend for passing off documentation as saleable artworks, such as its logo-embossed memory sticks in absurdly oversized archive boxes. WITH is also taking the opportunity to sell its solutions to real paying clients – art collectors who need more than art to fill the gaps in their lives. In our current economic climate, I predict MIRACLEMAKER will be the bestseller. ❚
JENNIFERTHATCHER is director of talks at the ICA.
■ Susan Collis/Kay Rosen Ingleby Gallery Edinburgh
August 1 to September 24
Kay Rosen’s practice rewards an approach that incorporates a genuine interest in language and the kind of whimsical curiosity you grant the cryptic crossword on a Sunday morning. It is by developing a familiarity with her tactics that you learn how to enter a game that slowly reveals intelligent puns and linguistic playfulness. For example, an oft-cited piece re-presented in this exhibition is New Orleans 2005, 2006. For this work awhite piece of paper bears the letters ‘OHNOAH’. The ‘NO’, which sits above the gentle pink ‘OH’ and ‘AH’, is a darker blood red and repeats the initial letters of the city. As the title clearly ties the work to the disaster following Hurricane Katrina, these letters can be construed as three short exclamations, ‘Oh’, ‘No’ and ‘Ah’, expressing (or perhaps feigning) emotions such as distress, disbelief or sympathy. Additionally, we can also read the letters, slightly against the colour code and placement, as ‘Oh Noah’, evoking the biblical allegory of flooding and retribution. Such explanations are often
Kay Rosen Memory of Red 2008
320 / ARTMONTHLY /10.08