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Ryan Gander

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | Biography


Ryan Gander, Man on a bridge - (A study of David Lange),  2008 <br/>16mm film transferred to HD video, 16, 27 minute loop <br/>Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam<br/> Ryan Gander, Man on a bridge - (A study of David Lange), 2008
16mm film transferred to HD video, 16, 27 minute loop
Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam
  1. Ryan Gander, Man on a bridge - (A study of David Lange), 2008
    16mm film transferred to HD video, 16, 27 minute loop
    Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam
  2. Ryan Gander, A sheet of paper on which I was about to draw, as it slipped from my table
    and fell to the floor, 2008, One hundred 15 cm laser-etched crystal balls
    Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam
  3. Ryan Gander, If I could see but a day of it (Multiverse), 2007
    Hand tufted Persian rug 3m x 2m, a wooden box, plain pack of Parallel cards, a pencil,
    small pile of postcards. Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam
  4. Ryan Gander, Driven Tho Wit, 2006,
    Colour photograph, rub-on transfer | 33,5 x 46,1 cm (image 33 x 45,6 cm)
    Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam
  5. Ryan Gander, Comic Cosmology, 2005, Animation appropriating stars from the graphic
    logo for teh Worlds Fair of 1964 / 1965 at Flusing Meadows, New York City, with sound
    track by Elmer Bernstein, taken from the film. Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery,
  6. Ryan Gander, Your clumsiness is the next mans stealth: A slowing of the spectator, 2005.
    fiberglass wall produced by prof fabricatiors to resemble poured concrete shuttering. Design
    taken from a plastic doorbell cover circa 1980.Image © Ryan Gander, courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

contd from page 2

It occurred to me that the taxonomic list of questions could lend a Ganderesque quality to my introduction: nods to classic Conceptualism in the form of lists, diagrams, indexes and other frameworks for information crop up time and again in his work. Gander folds the authority of knowledge systems in on themselves, asking his audience to think about how, in the slippage between language, its presentation and that which it signifies, there lies an issue of trust – a subject central to ‘Heralded as the New Black’. In Your Life in Four Acts – Forward (2008) ordinary tourist maps are reworked and reproduced to include streets long since demolished. The work short-circuits the trust we need in maps in order for them to function but also serves as a record of how cities change. In making each map (of which there are so far five: London, Sheffield, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Birmingham) Gander has noticed how many streets have disappeared beneath civic developments such as the South Bank Centre in London or the Bullring shopping complex in Birmingham, and how a city such as Amsterdam barely changes at all while Rotterdam is hardly recognizable from its older self. Oxidized Silver on Paper (2008) is a photographic contact sheet that, according to the accompanying wall caption, depicts ‘fifteen frames of super black paint developed by the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Britain’. However, as the title suggests, a contact sheet is just silver oxide on paper, and shows absolute black to be mere shades of grey. We have to believe Gander’s words, not his camera.

A similar game of trust is played in his series of ‘Alchemy boxes’ (2007–ongoing). Alchemy box # 3 (She spoke in images like some new language) (2008) is a wall-mounted unit constructed from one-way mirrored glass, to the same dimensions as Donald Judd’s sculpture Untitled – Blue and Yellow Painted Aluminium (1989). (Gander has suggested that he chose the Judd because he thought it was so archetypically ‘modern’-looking that he could almost imagine it being found in an illustrated children’s storybook about art.3) Nearby, a text on the wall lists a large assortment of items that are supposedly inside the box: they include a book on body language, stolen from Shoreditch library, DVD sleeves for François Truffaut’s film Day for Night (1973) and its original French-titled version La Nuit américaine, and a tube of ‘Mystic Smoke from Finger Tips’, a product that produces clouds of smoke at the click of a finger – more props for concealment. Recently Gander has begun to use the plinths that support other artists’ work for his ‘Alchemy boxes’. Relic For A Living Man (2008), exhibited in the Barbican Art Gallery’s show ‘Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art’, uses the base of a Chris Burden vitrine to house its contents. Gander not only colonizes another artist’s territory physically but invades it in other senses too; like squatting tenants, his objects inhabit a physical space demarcated as having special market value, an outpost of land owned by a collector or commercial gallery. In a sense, the ‘Alchemy boxes’ are also about artistic intent and interpretation. The gesture of loading an object with unseen items says: ‘Here is an object. I say it means these ten or 15 things. You may not be able to perceive them, but believe me, they’re there.’ Perhaps Gander’s ‘Alchemy boxes’ suggest that the value of art exists only to be talked about. As Brian Eno once proposed in a conversation about whether value is intrinsic or merely conferred: ‘Saying that cultural objects have value is like saying that telephones have conversations.’4

I wasn’t entirely unhappy with Introduction Version Five, for it opened up a number of possible paths of thought. I nonetheless set it aside, since one of those paths led to the issue of appropriation, authorship and ownership, and thus a possible sixth option: writing about Gander using only examples of art works he has co-opted himself. I could have discussed Enough To Start Over (2006), for which Gander used a piece by Jonathan Monk, an artist whose work is built around having a magpie eye for art history. Monk’s original consists of a passport photograph of himself as a teenager, pinned to the wall through the eyes with teardrop earrings. Gander bought the piece, removed the earrings and sent them to his mother. Enough To Start Over exists as a passport photograph of the artist’s mother wearing the earrings, rewiring Monk’s biography into Gander’s own. Then in ‘Heralded as the New Black’ there is a work entitled She walked ahead, leading him through a blizzard of characters (2008), which appears to be an unpainted wall. The description of the work tells us it is a ‘Newly plastered wall under which is a printed 2000 word text commissioned from a ghostwriter by the artist Mario Garcia Torres and paid for by Ryan Gander.’ I took my eyes off your hands too soon (2007) features a pair of photographs. To the left is Kiev MC Arsat PCS 4.5/55 mm Shift Lens, Focal Length: 55mm, Aperture scale: 4.5 to 22, Focusing Scale: 0.3 m (0.98 ft) to infinity, Minimum Focusing distance: 1.2 feet (0.5 meters), Field of view: 69 degrees (with shift) 84 degrees (with shift), Number of Elements: Nine elements in seven groups, Filter size: 72 mm, Weight: 2 lbs, Serial Number 0051, Douglas M. Parker Studio, Glendale, California, January 27, 2007 (2007), by the US artist Christopher Williams. To the right is a photograph taken by Gander of Williams’ print, compacting layers of meaning onto the already loaded original. Balanced precariously high above a doorway is The Learning Tree (When acorns fall into the wrong hands) (2008), a ‘fabricated Albers tea glass containing oil and a fabricated Michael Craig-Martin shelf from the work The Oak Tree, 1973’: canonical design and Conceptual art repurposed as slapstick gag. As far as the introduction to my article went, all this could have provided rich pickings. In buying a Williams or Monk – that is, making a clear economic transaction in order to own the works, rather than, say, using an existent reproduced image of them – does this change the rules of the appropriation game? The items are in one sense Gander’s property, and thus it’s up to him how he uses or abuses them. However, as Gander is an artist whose work seems so eager to pull others into its circle of conversation, I took The Learning Tree ... as a warning that focusing on objects to the exclusion of the ‘human interest’ angle could result in a pratfall of the critic’s own. So the seventh version swung right the other way. [...]

Read Full version HERE

1 Brian Sholis, ‘The Storyteller’, to be published in the catalogue Heralded as the New Black, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2008
2 Ryan Gander and Stuart Bailey, Appendix, Artimo, Amsterdam, 2003, p. 126
3 Conversation with the author, April 2008
4 Brian Eno, A Year with Swollen Appendices, Faber and Faber, London, 1996, p. 81

Dan Fox
Dan Fox is associate editor of frieze.






Ryan Gander
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Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
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Kadist Art Foundation, Paris
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Bonner Kunstverein
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IKON Gallery, Birmingham
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