Mark Benson Gets the Flu; We Get Conceptual Art

Written on by jeremy

Mark Benson

Conceptual art, like these Banksy animated gifs, is not for everyone. I am now going to quote San Francisco’s Ever Gold Gallery concerning their current exhibition, Get the Flu, by Mark Benson:

Benson will present a grouping of space heaters and air conditioners in separate rooms of the gallery. As the viewer moves through the space, they are confronted with both hot and cold sensations which begin as pleasant, then become uncomfortable.

The first part of this statement is true: Benson did indeed present groupings of space heaters and air conditioners in separate rooms of the gallery. The second part, however, is false: Those hot and cold sensations were never pleasant.

Mark Benson

In theory, I get it:

Looking to visualize the natural desire to be comfortable, safe, and healthy, Benson examines a selection of everyday appliances and their significance in our culture. The objects and imagery used in Get the Flu reference the ways in which we aspire to control elements of our lives, from atmospheric surroundings to personal health. Control is a continuing concern in Benson’s work and is activated here by asking viewers to engage with objects such as space heaters, air conditioners, and the flu vaccine.

But he loses me by giving up real control. The gallery attendant was flipping switches haphazardly. The staging felt slapdash and shoddy. (Packaging as pedestals? Really?) Ever Gold says “the artist finds these appliances endearing in their design; utilitarian, and simultaneously tacky and attractive,” but I’m calling their bluff. I challenge anyone to explain how a Pelonis Electric Radiator Heater is “endearing”.

Mark Benson

Alas, this is a challenge I will certainly lose. And it’s not Mark Benson’s fault. Get The Flu is conceptual art. In a gallery setting, the gallerist feels compelled to put forth a written interpretation. I will go to this gallery, and I will stand there and ponder (and photograph) the space heaters and air conditioners, and I will feel whatever I feel. But do not insult me by suggesting that a fucking remote-controlled Frigidaire is “endearing”.

Mark Benson

Benson refers to his use of readymades as “setting up jokes at my own expense”. But when there’s a Dyson Air Multiplier and some green streamers being sold as an art object, who is the joke really on? But again, I digress. We are all descendants of Duchamp. And we are all DEVO.

Mark Benson

More interesting than the readymades were Benson’s petri dish-esque canvases made with medicine cabinet mediums like Robitussin and BioFreeze. I also give him props for selling limited edition flu shots at $50 a pop. I declined to get one, but I might consider helping haul out Benson’s appliance-art in trade for a forged shot certificate when Get the Flu closes on September 27th.

Mark Benson

Mark Benson

Mark Benson

Posted in 3D Art Shows, Art, Editorials, Events, sculpture | 5 Comments

5 Responses

  1. Posted by: MedulaO on September 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Agreed. This is the kind of show that only a mother, or Simon de Pury, could love, if even. Meh.

  2. Posted by: Kylo76 (Twitter: @WachineMachine) on September 20, 2012 at 8:10 am

    This is one of those situations where I would really hope someone is playing this elaborate trick to gauge the stupidity of people by seeing if they will come to a ridiculously bland exhibition that required little to no thought in creation and even less thought(if possible) in staging and presentation. Sadly though Mark probably actually thinks he is presenting something deep, meaningful or thought provoking when actually it is just kind of stupid and actually really bland and boring. The flu shot certificate is mildly amusing but you are right the boxes as pedestals application is just lame. I didn’t go to the exhibition like you but I was I had the thirty seconds back I spent looking at the photos so I could spend it doing something more artistic like cleaning out my cats litterbox.

  3. Posted by: B.D.H. on September 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    So, I’m like confused. Did the exhibit leave you feeling “hot and bothered” or “numb and cold”?

  4. Posted by: B.D.H. on September 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Also. “Cleaning Litterbox” 2012, a performance. ?

  5. Posted by: Jeremy (Twitter: @jeremyriad) on September 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    @B.D.H. Neither! I went to the gallery because I was intrigued by the premise, the concept, of the art. I guess you could say the artist was successful then. My issue is more about how an interesting concept with poor execution means I could have stayed home and just ruminated on the concept. I would have preferred to feel “hot and bothered” OR “numb and cold,” but really I just stood there wondering how the gallery was going to pay their rent because it seemed incredibly unlikely that they would be selling any of the pieces in this show!

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